Custom built technology

17 March 2021

Tunnelwasher technology is advancing year by year and there is a solution for every laundry wahtever its size. Kathy Bowry reports

Tunnel washers – or continuous batch washers – are the giant workhorses of the linen rental sector, capable of processing thousands of pieces a day. Despite their size, they are designed to be extremely miserly when it comes to water, fuel and chemical usage. They are also fast and efficient. But when do you get to the stage when you realise your business would benefit from maybe replacing, or adding to, an existing set-up of washer extractors?

Mark Thrasher, president and co-owner of Lavatec Laundry Technology says: “One might assume the larger commercial operations are the sole beneficiaries from tunnel washers but smaller laundries can benefit, too. “We can design a tunnel washer system to produce as little as 1,000 pounds of product per hour, with the capability of having built-in water recovery and water recovery tanks for multi-colour processing. Utility savings will experience a huge improvement if the washer extractors are replaced by a tunnel washer system. Due to the capability of a fully automated system design, you can also expect labour savings and an improved safety environment.”

Thrasher advises:”Off-the-shelf tunnel washer systems are not capable of handling all of the items that are available in the industrial laundry market today. I know others offer a standard design and pitch it hard to buyers to save on the manufacturing costs. That said, it’s why we custom design tunnel washers to fit the individual needs of each customer. There are definitely cost advantages with our machines, including less equipment needed to process all items within the location. Minimal rewash required if the equipment is designed for the items being processed. You can also have water and heat reuse designed into our system to maximise energy savings.”

A deciding factor in the decision to install tunnel washer technology, would be the expected lifespan a laundry could expect for its new tunnel washer .”Lavatc is well known for its long lasting and durable line of equipment. Some of our customers refer to our equipment as a true workhorse and I think that fits the product perfectly. There are machines that were installed in 1986 when Lavate was founded and are still in operation.

“Maintenance, of course, is a very important part of laundry operations today. We pride ourselves in showing our customers how easy it is to maintain a Lavatec system. That is not just the case in regards to our maintenancefree tunnel washers’ drive system, but with the entire line of our equipment. I credit our engineers who always have the customer foremost in mind from start to finish,” says Thrasher. “We also provide a thorough training program onsite to every customer after the start-up of their equipment. We work with the customer to provide hands on training to all maintenance and operator personnel, even in a multi-shift operation. Our factory trained service technicians are capable of trouble shooting every piece of equipment we sell. We also provide a 24/7 customer emergency contact phone number for parts and service.”

The ‘Wow! factor’

Jensen also believes customised tunnel washers are the way forward, designed to customer needs with dedicated options. Recognising that heavy-duty laundries processing high linen volumes still must provide the ‘Wow! factor for wash quality, Jensen has introduced many innovative options for all kind of quality demands.

Jensen says it has fulfilled these needs via a range of options such as QuickSoak which provides an extra shower for the linen in the pre-wash for maximum soaking and superior wash results. As QuickSoak does not consume any utilities, no resources are wasted.

EcoTune controls the exact rotation of the drum and ensures a smooth operation. It optimises synchronisation of the drive motor and the frequency converter, thus ensuring much quieter operation: “The operator sometimes does not even realize that the tunnel washer is running,” reports Alexander Wildschütz, general manager of Laundry Sicking, Münster, Germany. In addition, the more precise adjustment of water levels allows for lower water and energy consumption, another feature that CEO Moritz Wildschütz in particular welcomes,saying: “We are using less water and getting better wash results”.

Jensen’s new patented UVClean system prevents bacterial growth in double drum sections automatically and focuses on hygiene without any chemical supply. The development of UVClean represents Jensen’s commitment to achieving sanitary results, avoiding the use of additional chemicals and providing lowmaintenance systems. UVClean can also be retrofitted. The two managing directors of the Wäscherei Kellner laundry in Osterode, Germany, Helmut and Ricardo Tröger, have now seized the opportunity to retrofit their Jensen P50-15 tunnel washer with UVClean in order to provide their customers with a top level of hygiene through environmentally friendly processing.

Meanwhile, the company’s EcoSafeguard automatically monitors and logs pH and conductivity values as well as water hardness and ensures a higher quality assurance in the laundry, with lower rewash. At the start and finish of the operation, Jensen’s ErgoVision video monitoring in real time of the loading and unloading process makes the overall operation safer while simplifying surveillance and saving valuable time. EcoTanks contribute to sustainability and are additional large volume storage tanks for an even better separation and up to 100% higher recovery of process water, especially for frequent colour changes.

Hygiene and diversity

For Kannegiesser, hygiene and diversity are key and the company is convinced that new challenges are opportunities to be grasped enthusiastically. Demographic change, the individualisation of society and resource shortages demonstrate only a few of the great challenges of our time, explains Tina Kannegiesser. “Markets and customer needs are changing. For textile service providers, this implies a constant adaption to the conditions and above all the customer’s needs. In the process, the hygiene and diversity aspects are increasingly shifting into the focus of textile services.

“Hygiene is the main business. Removing dirt and stains is considered the main task of the washing process. Whether it is bed linen in hospitals, terry cloth in hotel rooms, napkins in restaurants, airplane blankets or work wear – cleanliness and hygiene are the highest priority for many customers. This includes reliable removal of any kind of staining that is not visible to the eye. Repeatable processes for the professional reprocessing of textiles are therefore indispensable.

“Textile service providers are faced with increased variety of items, textiles and colours. Simultaneously this means that the entire process of the textile services as well as the machine technology must be adapted. At the same time, this challenge is an opportunity to stand out from the competition. The Kannegiesserbatch washer PowerTrans is the solution to meet these daily requirements. With its reliability and future proofing, the PowerTrans is well equipped for a modern laundry and the changing needs of the customers for years to come,” says Kannegiesser.

Kannegiesser says that the PowerTrans sets new hygiene standards in all areas of application – regardless of whether it is used in hospitality, the healthcare sector or for work wear. During the development of the Kannegiesser batch washer, the emphasis was deliberately placed on hygiene. The close cooperation with textile-, hygiene- and laundry-research institutes, made it possible to set new hygiene standards.

To withstand extreme dirt loads as well as highly demanding hygiene applications, the PowerTrans is meticulously designed down to the smallest detail, says Kannegiesser, including avoidance of ‘unused space’ in the inner and outer drums, tanks and piping, where soiling and microorganisms can permanently settle. All process components that are exposed to laundry or wash liquor are made of stainless steel. The additional use of robot welding technology ensures a maximum in precision and manufacturing quality.

Consistent batch separation within the PowerTrans ensures precise processes without liquor mixing between neighbouring chambers. Allowing for an individual treatment, which has so far only been possible with washer extractors, says Kannegiesser, thereby preventing transfer of visible and invisible dirt between items.

Variety and volume

The variety and volume of articles, textiles and processes – diversity – continue to increase. Due to the consequent batch separation, the enormous variety of laundry to be processed daily is no longer a problem for the PowerTrans. Consistent batch and item segregation means every batch is treated separately. As a result, it works like individual washing with different machines but it is automated for a much higher output and lowered consumption. As a rule, there are no more empty compartments despite the large batch mix. This enables a constant high output. The laundry mix and the washing sequences can be optimally adapted to the logistical processes and requirements of the textile service provider.

Minimised consumption of water, energy and chemicals – Savings resulting from the ActiveDrop mechanical wash action and the innovative drum design. Characteristically for the ActiveDrop is the continuous lifting and compressing of the laundry that penetrates deep into the fibres – for the highest wash quality and gentle textile treatment. Simultaneously the mechanical wash action has demonstrably improved by the large drum diameter design with a straight rear wall and optimally placed high lifters. Precious resources are preserved by an integrated water and energy recovery system. The reduced consumption of natural resources is evidence of remarkable progress in the field of environmental sustainability as well. Furthermore, the benefit lies in lowered life cycle costs and the extraordinary lifetime of the PowerTrans Vario.

“The PowerTrans impresses with its efficiency. Even in a small space, the ingenious design principle and reduced auxiliary process times ensure that a high output is achieved,” says Kannegiesser.

The straight drum wall design allows a significantly high utilisation and overloading safety without compromising the wash or finish quality. An increase in active washing time is made possible by the reduced auxiliary process time. The QuickExchance compartment allows particularly quick filling and draining, quick heating and liquor exchange between the inner and outer drum. With the unique SynchronTransfer a fast transfer between the chambers is enabled. During dewatering in the press or centrifuge the saved process time is used effectively. Due to a lower residual moisture after dewatering, drying energy is subsequently saved.

A new reference point

According to Erwin Vanspauwen of CLMTexfinity, his company has developed a tunnel washer that is quickly becoming “a new reference in the industrial laundry. It consists of a highly solid structure applying the latest trends in industrial manufacturing and taking full advantage of the most recent technological advancements in electronics”.

The main advantages according to Vanspauwen are: “Individual wash speeds for each article/program and the combination of a unique drum design, a sophisticated water management system and high quality industrial parts that make the S.wash-t a top performer both on speed and quality of the washing process.” He also cites generously dimensioned drain pipes and water valves that result in a faster drain, further lowering the cycle time.

The tunnel washer has a heavy duty structure design with a 200mm thick steel frame and the inner drum is made of extra thick 4 mm high quality stainless steel 304,” and it’s unique design leads to an excellent mechanical action,” adds Vanspauwen. After welding the several compartments, the permitted margin of tolerance is less than 1mm over the total length of the tunnel. High quality drum seals, made from high quality EPDM rubber (ethylene propylene diene monomer) aid performance and longevity. Meanwhile, the water injection is controlled by a flow meter, for more accurate water usage control.

There are three supporting points instead of two for better stability and quieter operation. This feature also helps to avoid any distortion of the unit.

The S.wash-t is supplied with bottom transfer, lowering the risk of blockages inside the tunnel and also, practically, because it doesn’t damage the linen as much as a top transfer or centre transfer system.The drum drive has a frequency inverter and strong roller chain while the drive chain has an automatic lubricating device for a continuously optimal lubrication of the chain.

IMPORTANT ISSUES: For Kannegiesser, hygiene and diversity are important issues in the development of laundry technology.
BOTTOM TRANSFER: The S.wash-t is supplied with bottom transfer, lowering the risk of blockages inside the tunnel and also, practically, because it doesn’t damage the linen as much as a top transfer or centre transfer system.
CUSTOM BUILT: Lavatec recommends to always opt for the cur=tom-build option rather than off-the- shelf
SHOWER TIME: QuickSoak provides an extra shower for the linen in the pre-wash for maximum soaking and superior wash results.
FUTURE PROOFING: With its reliability and future proofing, the modern laundry with the Kannegiesser PowerTrans is well equipped for the changing needs of the customers for years to come
LOW CONSUMPTION: Depending on the wash process, Jensen tunnel washers reach very low consumption values of only 1.6 l/kg or 0.19 gal./lbs.

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