Feeding and folding are essential parts of the ironing process. The final quality of laundered flatwork will depend upon the accuracy of the feeders and folders in the finishing line. Several factors must be examined – speed, reliability, durability and efficiency, the right type of machinery for the size of operation – all must be taken into consideration.

Continental Girbau revealed new products and technologies during Clean 2017, in Las Vegas. The company’s interactive vended and commercial/industrial laundry stands brought together team members from across the globe and gleaned record sales and leads, according to president Mike Floyd.

On the commercial/industrial laundry stand, Girbau Industrial automation products included the FT-Maxi towel folder, the DRB Feeder and FRB Folder, and the Compact 5-in-One – a machine that automatically feeds, irons, folds, stacks and accumulates.

Girbau Industrial’s FRB Flatwork Folder is described as a highly programmable folder offering one, two or four feeding lanes and the ability to automatically perform two to three primary folds and up to three cross folds. “The introduction of the FRB marks the next generation of flatwork folding solutions from Girbau Industrial,” says Joel Jorgensen, Continental vice president of sales. Ideal for the automated and high-quality folding of small and large items alike, including pillowcases, napkins, sheets and duvet covers, the FRB Flatwork Folder works seamlessly with any model ironer or stacker. It’s backed by a two-year IndustrialCare warranty.

Flexible control

“The FRB Flatwork Folder brings a highly flexible control,” adds Jorgensen. “It supports up to two stacking options for sorting and managing multiple dimension items; and integrates several ‘next generation’ quality features, including a small-piece draper with unit-count feature, LED lighting and clear-view panels.”

The FRB Flatwork Folder has Inteli control system that is simple to use and allows operators to easily program and execute the functions of the folder. Additionally, the FRB Flatwork Folder can be used on any number of lanes – required at any moment – to make folds that adjust to varying items and their varying dimensions.

Girbau Industrial’s DRB3+ Automatic Front Feeder is a recent addition to the DR Feeder Series. It automatically feeds linen of different types and sizes into a corresponding ironer. The DRB3+ Feeder allows for automatic feeding of large dimension items from two or three spreader feeding stations, as well as manual feeding – with or without vacuum assistance – from one to four lanes. The DRB3+, which offers configurations for two or three operators, features spreading belts and a vacuum box and table to ensure quality automated feeding. When configured with an optional suction table and dual-transfer servers, the DRB processes 790-1,000 items per hour from two or three stations.

Articles are positioned quickly on the feeding conveyor, while the drawing power of the suction box and other systems work together to deliver flawless feeding. Optional crease-removing brushes smooth fabrics and further enhance feeding quality.

Equipped for ease of use, the DRB Control features a colour touch-screen display that simplifies programming and automatically synchronizes the feeder, ironer and folder. The menu screens, arranged according to function, make it simple for users to program feeding specifications for a variety of laundry items.

Lavatec Laundry Technology and Girbau Group entered into a collaboration agreement in 2014, which will enable both companies to take advantage of the manufacturing capabilities of their counterpart. The agreement allows both Girbau and Lavatec to complete their product range with products manufactured by each company – Lavatec will manufacture their full line of industrial products to be offered by Girbau and Girbau will provide their line of finishing, folding and ironer products through Lavatec. This agreement will mean Lavatec customers can now take advantage of a wider catalogue of equipment choices with Girbau’s line of finishing, folding and ironing equipment. All Lavatec and Girbau manufactured products will be supplied with the latest Girbau advanced control systems.

According to Lavatec, Huebsch Services of Eau Claire, Wisconsin purchased the FL633, a 175-pound capacity gas fired dryer during Clean 2017. It was demonstrated with the Lavafold Maxi triple towel folder as part of Lavatec’s agreement with Continental Girbau.

Laundry centrepiece

The most spectacular innovations can be seen in the centrepiece of each and every laundry – in the finishing section, according to the Jensen Group. High customer expectations and a fierce competition on prices call for greater flexibility and cost efficiency. With the new developments for the finishing section, it is not a case of quality versus quantity, but rather quality plus quantity.

Jenfeed Express Plus – described by the company as the world’s fastest feeder of sheets using cornerless feeding stations – has been developed from handling single sheets only to handle king size sheets as well. By introducing a vacuum box to the Jenfeed Express, not only the size of products to be handled has increased, but also the feeding quality has increased, allowing feeding of all sizes of sheets for the healthcare sector. The Jenfeed Express Plus can also be used to increase PPOH in the hospitality sector thanks to the cornerless feeding principle, which doubles the feeding capacity per operator compared to conventional feeding into clamps. The Jenfeed Express Plus was shown in combination with the Jenfold Classic and Jenstack Max supplied with the ‘Express’ options, allowing to process up to 1,800 healthcare single sheets per hour in 1-lane operation with only three operators.

The Jensen Evolution Cube is a fully automatic separator and feeder of towels developed for the Jenfold Tematic Pro towel folder. The Evolution Cube now reaches an average production of up to 600 towels per hour, allowing fully automatic separation, feeding, folding and sorting of different sizes of towels in combination with the Jenfold Tematic pro.

The Jenfold Tematic Pro can also be operated manually, and features the AutoSelect program, allowing the machine to automatically select the folding program according to the size of the towel. AutoSelect allows the operator to feed up to 1,200 towels of mixed sizes per hour.

Working partnership

In early Spring 2016 H J Weir announced the formation of a working partnership with Laco Machinery, which enables H J Weir to commit to offering customers a complete ironer line combining H J Weir flatwork feeding and folding working with Laco ironers. The company has also introduced three new machines.

The Twin-lane 58 Spreader Feeder is a two-lane/four station spreader/feeder designed to accurately present large items such as sheets, heavy-duvet covers or quality table linen to a flatwork ironer.

Each of the four height adjustable load stations will transfer the linen upwards to a single high speed spreading system, which provides controlled spread through stepper motors. Automatic start of the spreader clamps begins on completion of an item being clipped to either of the load stations, through PLC technology including 100 available programs.

The Monofeed 48 is a single lane automatic spreader/feeder containing a centralised clipping station for the automatic feeding of large items such as sheets and duvet covers. After being clipped to the feeding station, the item will be spread, with the aid of a suction box, prior to the spreading mechanism moving backwards to transfer it onto the main conveyor belts. A vacuum facility beneath these belts assists in the transfer of the item from the spreading mechanism, while a stretch conveyor improves the quality of the leading edge presented to the ironer.

Smaller items  can be placed directly onto the main conveyor once the clipping/spreading mechanism has been moved to its backward position.

The Monofeed 48 Spreader/Feeder can be used with an Autoprep Linen Separator with or without an article delivery conveyor system.

The Weir Foldmaker 110 is a single lane folder based on the popular Foldmaker 55 design and adapted for the purpose of blanket folding. It is also suitable for large towels and articles up to an approximate width of 1.65m and a running length of 3.8m.

Buffer feed system

For the first time in a US exhibition, Kannegiesser displayed a buffer feeding system designed for processing hotel sheets. The ergonomic feed system or ‘Synchro Remote’ can achieve the same productivity with one less operator.  The other highlight was a roll out of the ‘ErgoFeed’ new 3 station cornerless feeder for maximum throughput in a healthcare application. This large piece folder has also been upgraded to handle additional pieces sent through, while also maintaining a precision crossfold quality.

 The upgraded Kannegieser XFM Speedline small piece folder includes enhancements to efficiencies with an ergonomic design.  The logistic improvements to the programming side utilize both speed and precision while stacking the folded dry articles.  This new model has proven to increase staff productivity by as much as 30% over earlier machine designs.

 Meanwhile, as part of the fully integrated laundry, the Kannegieser Vectura Stack Management System collects and organises the folded stacks coming from the ironer lines or dry folding machines. The items on the smart conveyor belt system are automatically tracked and identified by both article and customer while bringing them to a central point in the dispatch area. 

Mixed sheets and duvets

Vega Systems of the Netherlands, and USA partner, Ellis Corporation, attracted a steady flow of visitors to insopect the Vegafold-S, a sheet folder with four sorting stackers integrated in the machine; the VegaRoll Gas ironer; and the latest addition to Vega feeder solutions, the Vegafeed-CL3 edge feeder, ideal for high volume hospital sheet work.

The VegaFold-S attracted the most attention with its presentation on mixed sheets and duvets. The machine can automatically sort sheets into singles, doubles, kings and supers and then stack them in four individual stackers within the frame of the machine. It means that this machine has a smaller footprint than the company’s standard folder. It offers a unique solution for customers where space is at a premium but they are processing mixed sheets, a situation faced by a lot of customers.

The Transfeed-S was placed in front of the VegaFold-S, the high performance large-piece feeder. The spreading clamp design and the software mean this machine can combine high speed and quality. Production capacity in a single lane is up to 1,200 pieces per hour and in double lanes up to 1,800 pieces per hour. The Transfeed-S and VegaFold-S were fitted with a productivity tracking system, which gives very clear visualisation of the target output against actual performance. The system can also record productivity data for reporting and trending.

Vega’s latest development is the VegaFeed-CL, a cornerless high-speed feeder, primarily for hospital sheets. The machine is currently undergoing trials but will be available for orders in the coming months.

There were extremely positive reactions to the new products that Lapauw USA displayed at Clean 2017. The company showcased two ironers on its stand – the IronMAX, a gas heated ironer with redesigned aspects to enable the largest ironing surface possible and the IronPRO, a chest heated OPL ironer – as well as a new small piece folder, alongside its Mediwave barrier washer and HotSTREAM garment finishing tunnel.

The FlexPRO is a towel-folding machine that can sort up to three different sizes of products, fold them accordingly, and stack them in three separate piles.

The FlexPRO is the latest addition to Lapauw’s family of folders – Unifold, Superfold, Starfold and Stack & Fold small piece folder. Its feeder range includes the Unifeed, Starfeed & Starfeed+, Extra and Unix.