Technology creates greater choice

22 February 2018

Tony Vince looks at how co-operation between solvent producers and machine manufacturers is providing cleaners with even more choices

For forward-looking industry professionals, the alternatives now available to replace chlorinated solvents such as perchloroethylene provide an immense business opportunity. Importantly, these cleaning systems are focused on environmental issues such as biodegradability and biocompatibility.

Individual cleaners can view the options, assess consumer trends for themselves and determine the best cleaning solution to meet the specific requirements of their business and its future development. Each cleaner can develop a strategy for their business and choose a system that specifically suits that strategy.

The recently introduced solvents are Ktex, Arcaclean, HIGlo, Intense and Sensene. These solvents are available besides established solvents like perc, hydrocarbon solvent (HCS), Solvon K4 and GreenEarth.

As LCN editor Kathy Bowry found at last June’s Clean Show in Las Vegas, there were plenty of innovations in both machinery and solvents to be found, as manufacturers and suppliers showcased the most attractive and efficient cleaning options for the US market.

Cleaners can switch away from the perc ‘mainstream’ as the new solvents offer sustainability and improved efficiency. According to Gabriel Cuppini at Union in Italy, more and more drycleaners are looking for cleaning processes like hydrocarbon, GreenEarth, K4 and Ktex because of the advantages this cleaning technology can bring to them.

He says that in the North American market, the economy is improving and more cleaners are moving to multisolvent machines.

In Europe, there is a steady increase in demand for new solvent products because of the good cleaning results, which are easier to achieve with the latest generation of machines.

Union invests heavily in research and development. The company produces the successful Nova series, which is designed for Class IIIA solvents (hydrocarbon and GreenEarth).

Union’s 8000 H series Multi-Solvent Class 111A machines can be supplied in capacities from 10kg up to 40kg and are built in wide or slim line format, and as the name suggests the machines can be programmed to work with all the latest solvents available in the market.

One recent addition to the 8000 series of machines is the K range, originally designed to work with SystemK4 solvent and soaps but more recently developed as a true multi-solvent machine with the capability to work with hydrocarbon and cyclosiloxanes (D5/GreenEarth).

The company says its Series HXL8000-C multisolvent machine gives exceptional cleaning, economy and ecological performance in 40 and 60lbs load capacities. The machine has patented Cyclonic Airflo basket and Dialoc Computer with Dialog Plus. All models of Series HXL8000-C are equipped with two independent self-cleaning solvent tanks equipped with level control sight-glasses, Union’s extra-large Turbo 2 fan and modular refrigeration system. The unit also boasts a waterless fridge system and second cleaning circuit with an extra solvent pump available on demand.

Union’s Cloud cleaning system has received a lot of interest and the first machines in operation are working well. “The system is 100% eco-friendly since no solvents are used,” says Cuppini. “Cloud cleaning is discoloration free and colours will become bright as there is no oxygen in the basket, which works under vacuum.” Union plans to expand the Cloud range with a larger model.

There are some Union drycleaning machines in operation using Ktex. Certified by the French research institute CTTN, Ktex is a solvent produced by Bardahl and is offered to the market in exclusive co-operation with the FMB Group, which owns the Union, Firbimatic and Realstar brands.

The solvent is hydrocarbon-based with additives to boost the performance and is suitable for multisolvent or hydrocarbon machines.

In the USA, Firbimatic has a wide dealer network for sales and service support, so its Ecogreen, the F Series SE cartridge filtration model, the two-tank slimline Petite models and non-distillation Saver models attracted popular attention. Joining them was Firbimatic’s latest multi-solvent 15kg/35lb Spring SM machine with soft-mount basket technology. Capacities of 18kg/40lb and 25kg/60lb are also promised.


Business strategy

Like Cuppini at Union, Marco Boccola, business development manager (Drycleaning BU) at Ilsa, the Italian drycleaning machines designer and manufacturer, believes that it is important to develop a business strategy that determines the cleaning solution based upon target customer needs.

Ilsa has been working with Dow-Safechem for some considerable time using their expertise to assist in testing this new solvent. This testing has taken place across Europe.

Boccola explains that Sensene has been tested in the field by several drycleaners for all applications under continuous control of Dow-Safechem and Ilsa SpA experts. “Hydrocarbon solvent machine conversion is also available with a specific protocol. Sensene is already tested for Ipura technology and all the bath cleaning lines of hydrocarbon machines.”

The solvent will still be regulated by the SED directives, as it is a modified alcohol based solvent.

Perc-only machines are not suitable for conversion to use Sensene. Dow, as a leading manufacturer of perc, is positioning the new solvent as an alternative, rather than an outright replacement, and the final choice of solvent will depend on the mix of textiles being cleaned.

Columbia Drycleaning Machines, the USA-based sister company of Ilsa, was at Clean to demonstrate its latest TL HCS N2, a hydrocarbon closed circuit cleaning system from its Professional Series with a solvent heating system. The company also introduced its two latest GreenEarth and Tandem models alongside its heavy industrial line-up.

Böwe Textile Cleaning showcased its PremiumLine drycleaning range of multisolvent machines compatible with US ETL/CSA standard approval including the 66lb Black Forest Edition of its M66 multisolvent machine alongside a SlimLine M40 machine available in different designs and finishes. The first M66 Black Forest edition machines have gone to Clean Rite in Vancouver. The company’s Pi360 iLine lower-budget line shares design components and technology – loading door, tanks and distillation – used in Böwe’s successful PremiumLine drycleaning range.

Highly regarded worldwide, Unisec of Spain sells across Europe, Russia, South America, the Middle East and USA. Leading UK-based laundry chemical and machine supplier, Alex Reid recently concluded a deal with Unisec to act as its UK sales representative for a selection of its drycleaning machines. The addition of the Unisec units will provide customers with more choice in machines using both perc and alternative solvents, with load capacities from 8 to 140 kilos.

Alex Reid will carry the full Unisec range, which includes perc machines and multi solvent machines. There are two types of multisolvent machines - the Junior HCM and the Ecoplus series. The Junior HCM machines have been developed for both standard textile cleaning and specialist treatment processes such as fur and leather.


High quality cycles

Last year saw Renzacci of Italy unveil machines designed to perform high quality cycles using hydrocarbon-based solvents; new models that use Sensene and System K4; and innovative machines using GreenEarth, HiGlo and Genex. In addition, Renzacci’s Nebula 2.0 is the first drycleaning machine to use the company’s patented Combiclean system so that users can select from several different cleaning systems, as the Nebula can be adapted to work with a wide range of solvents.

After rigorous testing, all Renzacci multi-solvent machines including its Nebula hydrocarbon machine can now use the new Sensene solvent produced by Safechem. Sensene is a modified alcohol solvent which has a very high solvency power but which is inherently biodegradable, with low aquatic toxicity and therefore an environmentally responsible way of drycleaning.

One innovation to be released is the Smart app for the Renzacci i-Brain. The app allows operators to control their drycleaning machine as if they were standing in front of it – especially helpful for an owner who maybe is out on deliveries or has several shops to manage.

The app can carry out all processes from an easy-to-use android tablet. Customers can swipe between screens and will see the same images, buttons and information as available on the machine display. This includes all the information about cycles, running functions, operating parameters and alarms. All the information is provided in real time, is clear and completely intuitive. Warnings and alarms have an independent report generated, but the app can also relay Pop-Up information for dedicated warnings like filter cleaning etc.

Marco Niccolini, Renzacci’s global sales and marketing director, said that Clean 2017 was an opportunity to talk about the company’s investment to further strengthen Renzacci USA, which recently established a training centre for its drycleaning and wet cleaning machines as well as an expanded spare part inventory and more engineers on the ground. “It is a considerable investment in the North American operation that will see payback,” he comments.

The centre will enable dealers and customers to learn how to get the most out of the latest laundry and drycleaning equipment and solvents. “Over the past year, it is our most significant achievement,” Niccolini says.


New generation

Maestrelli showed its range of multi-solvent machines at Clean 2017 that can use the latest “new generation” solvents now available on the market, from hydrocarbon to silicon.

According to Giacomo Fontana, export manager, Maestrelli introduced its multi-solvent model with a 15kg capacity, two tanks and no still at Las Vegas. The machines range in capacity from 11kg to 45kg and can be with or without distillation, large or compact size and hard or soft mounted. Soft-mounted machines equipped with shock absorbers help reduce the duration of the wash cycle, saving time during spinning/drying and so increasing productivity. Perc machines were also on show from a compact 6kg model to the 80kg industrial models.

Eugenio Boni, general manager at Italclean, says the company showed the latest development of its Drytech hydrocarbon drycleaning machine. The Drytech hydrocarbon drycleaning machines, available in soft- and hard-mounted versions, with and without distillation, are in demand in more developed markets, where there is growing interest in hydrocarbon and other solvents such as GreenEarth or K4, Sensene, HiGlo or Intense.

Meanwhile, in those markets where perc continues to be the main preference, Italclean provides the established Liberty 200 perc range, which continues to enjoy good sales.


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