Cost-saving finishers that deliver consistent results

21 January 2017

With a growing number of businesses now offering a shirt service, Tony Vince examines how the latest generation of shirt finishers will ensure consistent quality results

Shirts are by far and away one of the most popular items to pass through professional laundries and drycleaners, be they independent outlets or on-premises laundries (OPLs) in large offices, according to Mick Christian, regional training and demonstration manager for Electrolux Professional.

The key to success, in his view, is ensuring the business has the right equipment in place to deliver highly consistent results to customers, and turn the laundry over as quickly as possible. “Shirts do pose a unique challenge compared to traditional laundry services items such as suits, dresses and duvets,” he explains. “Not only do professional outlets have to compete against each other, they must compete against the owner, given shirts can be washed and ironed at home for next to nothing. That said, certainly in the vicinity of professional services and financial hubs, such as the City of London – where business dress is mandatory and traditional working hours stretch far beyond the usually 9 to 5 – there is a healthy demand for professionally laundered shirts.”

Fast processing is key to profitability, says Christian. So too is consistency, given many customers are likely to want at least five – and sometimes more – shirts laundered in one go; and if all shirts aren’t of the same quality on return the customer will quickly look elsewhere. “Manual ironing is not really a viable option for catering for the high volumes needed to make a success of a shirt finishing option, he says. “Volume was a key influence during the R&D stage of our own shirt finishing equipment, and the Electrolux Professional Shirt Finisher (FSF) enables independent laundries and OPLs to process shirts quickly and consistently.”

The FSF holds shirts under tension during the air/steam cycle to deliver a crisp, crease-free finish every time, and an ironing control with built-in microprocessor for maximum productivity. A multi-purpose pedal and electronic control panel to help operators quickly select the right program while its small footprint makes it ideal for smaller OPLs or a dedicated shirt finishing suite located away from the main laundry. A heated front clamp, which can move horizontally, and side clamps with automatic vertical and horizontal size regulation  ensure that operators do not have to manually re-set the finisher each time a different size shirt is ironed.

For those businesses or OPLs that do not have the budget to purchase a dedicated shirt finisher, the Electrolux range of Multi Form Finishers (FFM) can be used to finish shirts as well as suit jackets and coats as well. The FFM range features an anti-stretching device to prevent loss of form in elastic fabrics during the finishing process, and is available with either for central steam or a self-contained integral steam boiler for a simplified installation.

Renzacci UK has also seen a growing number of businesses offering a shirt service in recent years, according to managing director Jason Alexander. “We quite often see businesses get to critical mass where they have an increase of work coming in but not enough capacity within the business or time in the day to cope with demand. This is where a Pony shirt machine becomes a shop owner’s best friend.”

Renzacci UK is the sole UK importer of finishing equipment produced by Pony of Italy and Alexander says that the company can offer a shirt machine to suit every business and every budget.

He points out that Renzacci UK can offer a range of shirt machine packages to suit every budget and provide finance packages that means that each system becomes self-funding. “Customers are able to have the equipment installed quickly into their business relieve the pressure and turbo charge their profits at the same time,” he says. “One of the benefits from a Pony shirt machine is that even unskilled operators can use the equipment and achieve outstanding results every time. That can save on labour costs and build capacity within the business, while at the same time ensuring a consistently high quality.”

The Pony Angel 2 is the latest version one of Renzacci UK’s most popular shirt finishers. Pony has enhanced the already successful single buck press unit by adding Pony’s Hot Air Recovery System (HARS).  This system recycles hot air released during processing and re-uses it to help reduce energy cost. The reduced heat dissipation allows faster drying times, greater productivity, reduced steam consumption and an improved working environment for operators.

Using up to 24kilos of steam per hour, the powerful hot air flow and the two steam heated, Teflon coated finishing bucks produce perfect finishing in under 30seconds. This single buck shirt press is also equipped with a “touch screen” computer, allowing the operator total control over all the machine’s functions. The Teflon coated heads prevent shining even on dark garments and the heads are easy to wipe clean and to remove starch residue. When teamed with the Pony Collar and Cuff press, a single member of staff can process up to 50 shirts an hour.

Angel 2.0 is height adjustable, while its compact footprint allows it to fit into particularly narrow sites and through 90cm doors.

Renzacci UK also supplies the Pony Eagle shirt finisher with HARS. The Eagle builds on the Angel’s success and features heated shoulder pressing, Teflon-coated shoulder pads and allows a blown finish for the shirt body rather than a pressed finish.

The built-in heat recovery system is said to save 30% on energy costs. This system, like the Pony Angel, works perfectly when combined with the Pony Collar and Cuff Press (CCP) and is capable of processing around 35-50 shirts an hour.

Innovations galore

The amount and quality of finishing products on view at this year’s Texcare Show in Frankfurt was prolific and there were innovations galore for drycleaners.

Another well-known Italian company, Fimas, used Texcare 2016 to emphasise its full range of form finishers for shirts and jackets, as well as toppers and presses, cabinets, spotting tables, pre-spotting cabinets and steam generators.

Dane Realstar distributes equipment by Sidi and Fimas in the UK. According to Sheila Higgs at Dane Realstar, the latest drycleaning and laundry machines have many cost saving devices but there are other factors that the drycleaner must look at when purchasing finishing equipment. “A customer looking for a new piece of equipment will sometime be driven by the sale price, but should remember the importance of the back up from the supplier,” says Higgs.

She says that the Fimas 296 Pressed Shirt Unit is specifically designed for high volume, quality shirt finishing. The pressed ironing of wet and dry shirts gives a high quality crisp firm finish to the body, yoke, shoulders, long and short sleeves and sleeve placket.

Capable of processing 45 – 60 shirts per hour with one operator, the machine has a touch screen control with 10 pre-set programs with adjustable settings.

The Fimas 296 is now joined by the Fimas series 298, an automatic unit for pressed finishing of shirts, with two 180degree rotating formers and a finishing station with hot plates and hot air blowing. This latest technology can enable the busy shirt laundry to produce double the quantity of the Fimas 296 single buck finisher.The Fimas 296 and 298 can be teamed up with the Fimas 387 collar cuff press. This has a steam-heated and easy-to-clean polished head top buck and safety rail. Pads prevent pressure marks from buttons. The Fimas 387 collar cuff press can be connected to central steam services or supplied with an optional 36kw boiler capable of producing sufficient steam for both this machine and the Fimas 296.

The top-of-the-range Fimas 389 Blown Shirt Finisher is described by Higgs as the perfect shirt finisher for drycleaners, combining ease of operation with a high level of technology.

In addition, Dane Realstar supplies the versatile Fimas 314 shirt/form finisher. This universal finisher can also be used for jackets, coats and raincoats, making it highly versatile for a busy drycleaning shop. It features a telescopic body form with vacuum for loading and front pressing plate, which moves to one side for easy of loading.

Parrisianne Dry Cleaning Solutions has installed over 300 shirt systems in the UK in the last 13 years. Parrisianne is the sole UK distributor for Sankosha of Japan. It can arrange site visits to any of the installations of Sankosha finishing equipment working in the UK, allowing cleaners to see the equipment working in a true working environment and to speak to operators and owners.

Noble Dry Cleaners in West London had been pressing hundreds of shirts each week. This involved several people finishing the shirts on ironing tables, which also left the shirts with a soft/limp finish that allowed the shirt to crease very easily after being worn by the customer for only a few hours.

Fast finishing

Noble Dry Cleaners researched the market and approached Parrisianne, who advised that the Sankosha LP590E single buck and the LP690E tensioning single collar and cuff press would be the best option for Noble Dry Cleaner’s needs. Noble Dry Cleaners are now finishing double the amount of shirts they once did, in a fraction of the time, without any adverse effect on the quality of the finish.

The range of finishers produced by Trevil, the Italian manufacturer, is available through Firbimatic UK. The three main products are the Presto FC hot plate unit, the Trevistar blown shirt unit and the multi-garment tensioning form finisher Princess Ultra.

Trevistar is Trevil’s dedicated blowing shirt finisher. One operator can process 50 shirts an hour with a very high quality finish, virtually without touch-up.

The latest version features the Trevil LS39 economizer. By recovering the heat of condensate, the economizer allows hotter and drier air, so decreasing cycle times.

The TreviTouch control panel benefits from a clean graphic design. Programs are chosen from a convenient drop-down menu, where each customer can program custom programs, in addition to preset factory programs.


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