Asked about the company’s first year as exclusive UK distributor for Böwe drycleaning equipment, Böwe Ltd’s general manager, Ian Hearle, gives a wry smile.

“A very interesting year,” he says. “We launched Böwe Ltd into a market place that was very confused about the identity of the factory-supported distributor for new Böwe machines.

“In spite of the difficult conditions Böwe Ltd persisted in carving a new position for Böwe drycleaning machinery in the UK market; the brand had not been actively promoted or advertised by the former distributor for some time previously, and therefore prospective and existing customers were unclear about the true position, until such time as advertising, editorials, mailshots, letters, personal calls, and an unwavering unequivocal message on behalf of Böwe Ltd prevailed.”

Through persistence, investment and good old-fashioned hard work, Böwe Ltd has now reached the position where it is recognised as the exclusive UK importer and distributor of Böwe equipment, working with a number of names that will be familiar to Böwe customers, such as agents Permac Technical Services and Scotland’s Textile Care Supplies.

Turning point

“I feel the turning point for us this year,” continues Ian Hearle, “was the Clean UK exhibition at Wembley, where we had a particularly smart and impressive stand, which attracted a lot of visitors and interest, and firmly put Böwe and Böwe Ltd physically back in front of customers. Since that point we have received a steady flow of enquiries and orders, and are firmly established back on the professional drycleaners’ ‘most wanted’ shopping list.

“Over the year the variety of orders has been extensive, ranging from industrial-size machines for blue-chip companies through to compact-footprint slimline machines for small unit shops. This, of course, reflects the very extensive nature of the Böwe range of machines, spreading as it does from 12kg perc and 14kg hydrocarbon machines through to true industrial-size machines, taking in on the way slimline, crossline and modular formats, with a range of over 20 models. There is always something in the Böwe range to meet a prospective customer’s requirements.”

As one of the last true manufacturers in the drycleaning business, Böwe is able to offer a number of uniquely-designed machines, designed – as has always been Böwe’s tradition – by drycleaning engineers for professional drycleaners. Prospective customers, says Mr Hearle, should be aware of the technical and quality benefits available only through buying Böwe equipment. “By investing in Böwe machinery,” he says, “One has over 50 years of drycleaning and manufacturing experience backing one, along with potentially the lowest running costs on the market. This will enable one to minimise risk on investment and enhance one’s business with equipment that has a high residual value for a long time to come.”

The design of Böwe machines is not compromised, as are so many suppliers’ , by the use of centrally manufactured components. Instead, the major components of a Böwe machine are manufactured specifically to Böwe designs. Only in this way, maintains Ian Hearle, are the flows, rates, capacities and productivity envisaged by the designer actually able to be achieved.

“In contrasting Böwe capacities in still, tanks, cage and so on, one will find that the capacities of the Böwe machine will generally be considerably larger, to the extent that, for instance, the still on a nominally similarly sized competitors’ machine is up to 50% smaller, resulting in an inability to match the Böwe machine’s capacity to recover more than sufficient solvent each and every time.”

  Mr Hearle says that in relation to nominally competitively-sized competitors’ machines one should be aware that while Böwe always uses the industry-standard loading ratio of 1:20, resulting in a 12kg capacity in the 240-litre volume drum of the P240, some suppliers may use a lesser ratio of 1:17 or 1:18 so the rated loading capacity of the machines will be inflated.

Comprehensive specification

Böwe machines have an extremely comprehensive specification included as standard, with a variety of options available to tailor them precisely to one’s particular requirements. The Böwe range of machines is unique in the market today, says Mr Hearle, “offering the solidity, build quality and reliability of older generation machines, whilst leading current generation machines in terms of technology and flexibility – the most comprehensive and informative computer control available today – and industry-leading levels of quality, longevity and low running costs, resulting in the most attractive residual values now and into the future.

” The phrase ‘Total Machine Control’,” he continues, “Does not begin to do justice to Böwe’s latest-generation computer-control, the CS3000, now fitted to all models in the extensive Böwe drycleaning machine range.”

The system can be used simply as a process selection point, with easily understood notations describing each machine process and function, and giving instant information about the status of the machine. “But,” says Ian Hearle, “go a step beyond this, and the CS3000 offers:

• programming facilities

• production data

• statistical information

• routine maintenance schedules

• error information and

• a whole raft more of information invaluable to the smooth and professional running of a machine – and a business.

“With clear text display – in up to eight different languages – and in real time, the CS3000 allows the operator, with management authority of course, total flexibility in processing and control.”

Adaptable programs

The CS3000 is delivered with a set of standard programs and these may, if necessary, be easily and quickly adapted to an individual business’ particular requirements. And with the unrivalled number of program slots available, additional programs may similarly easily be written.

“Whilst it is by far the most advanced and sophisticated computer control on a dry cleaning machine anywhere in the world today,” comments Mr Hearle, “the CS3000 will hold no fears for the everyday operator, who will find its simplicity to run a delight. And, should the operator wish, and again only with management authority, a process can even be run manually step by step.”

Perhaps the most innovative part of the CS3000 control system is the Böwe remote control. This option offers the facility to access the machine control remotely – from beside the machine, from another room, another building, town or even country. All that is required is a modem and a software package which will allow remote access via a phone line – only with password authorisation, of course – and all the programming, production and functional information held within the CS3000 is made available to the remote computer screen, which will replicate whatever is displayed on the drycleaning machine. This type of access is invaluable for:

• programming

• upgrades

• data transfer

• central co-ordination of a single or a set of machines and

• fault diagnosis and resolving.

“We are always pleased to introduce purchasers to industry-specialist finance companies who will be able to offer extremely competitive rates on a variety of finance options, subject to status,” says Ian Hearle. “It bears repeating again that, whilst the Böwe machine may be more expensive as an outright figure on day one, extrapolating that difference over the term of the finance arrangement will result in a negligible difference over competitors’ prices on weekly repayments, and this may be more than recovered through reduced consumption and running costs and a higher residual value.

“It is natural to look at the short-term benefits of buying a cheap drycleaning machine, but Böwe believes that quality is vitally important and that it is value for money that counts over the machine’s lifetime. Böwe enjoys worldwide acclaim for outstanding quality, reliability and durability and, due to the use of the latest technology, is able to offer the best production capabilities.”

Böwe Ltd’s machines are supported by the industry’s leading service providers, Duval Service Care and Permac Technical Services, both of which hold extensive stocks of spare parts and employ factory-trained engineers, fully experienced in Böwe machines. They are able to offer a wide variety of competitively priced aftersales service packages.

Name change

It is not only in the UK that the face of Böwe has recently changed. The manufacturer changed its name earlier this year to Böwe Textile Cleaning and reappointed former MD Eckhard Gerschewske. “Böwe, the manufacturer, is now completely forward facing again”, comments Ian Hearle, “And with the new management team in place, fresh investment, impetus, enthusiasm and – very importantly – new products point to a very strong future for the brand.”

The launches over recent years of the modular P25, the minimal footprint hydrocarbon K14 and express program perc P17 have ushered in new generations of exciting and innovative Böwe machines, soon to be supplemented by further new models, underlining Böwe’s firm intentions to remain a world-class leading manufacturer.

“The future for Böwe in the UK has never been brighter,” concludes Ian Hearle. “With Böwe Ltd now firmly established as distributor and Böwe Textile Cleaning building an unbeatable selection and range of industry-leading equipment. It all goes to prove once more, as we say, that Böwe really is better for your business.”