Last month’s Clean UK show was a special occasion for Duval. It marked the launch a completely new range of drycleaning equipment manufactured for Duval by AMA Universal in Italy.

The range has been fundamentally revamped to offer increased capacity, improved drying performance and enhanced specification. Not least, though, the machines’ exterior look has been redesigned.

Each of the company’s existing models has been replaced, and the range has been boosted with selected new models.

Peter Crane, Duval’s chairman, says: “We are keen to develop our strengths with AMA to achieve advanced specification and competitive prices.

“Over the years we’ve received approaches from almost every manufacturer of machines, but we’ve never considered them because of the performance and specification of the machines AMA make for us.”

Caring about customers

Crucial to the success of the new machines will be Duval’s aftersales package. Mr Crane says: “Duval is a family-owned company and cares deeply about customers. Our commitment to aftersales is incredibly strong.”

The company fields the largest service force in the UK with 27 people directly employed. Office staff at the Romsey headquarters numbers 16.

Each of the company’s 23 service engineers works from home and between them, they cover all regions. Mr Crane says: “We are very much a national company.

“There are four area account managers dealing with the private sector, and Andrew Gurd, technical director, and myself take care of corporate sales to the likes of Minit and Safeways.”

Doing it first

Duval claims a number of firsts for a company in this business. It was the first UK company to offer a free advice line; it was the first to offer a guaranteed service product; and it was the first to provide a service package.

Up to five people receive calls on the company’s 01794 516633 advice line, and at least three of those people are on the phone constantly for eight hours a day. The service is so popular that it handles an average of 200 calls a day.

The company is the only service organisation to guarantee components, says Mr Crane. “If a component fails, the second repair is guaranteed for 12 months against manufacturing defects.”

The Duval Service Care planned maintenance scheme encompasses routine servicing and breakdown cover for an initial five-year period, all for a monthly fee. Engineers regularly work Sundays and evenings too. “I’ve known an engineer leave home at five in the morning and get home at midnight,” says Mr Crane.

Products for all

The new product range can be divided into four series: “Mito” (Light, Med and Max), “Indy”, “Comby” and “HC-Easy”. The first three are designed for perchloroethylene, while the HC-Easy machines are for use with hydrocarbon solvents.

The Mito series comprises 12 machines, from the four “Light” models with capacities of 15lb and 20lb to the four “Med” machines with 25lb and 35lb capacities and the “Max” models offering capacities of 40lb and 50lb. “Standard” and “Pro” versions are available giving the choice of two and three tanks, while the budget Mito Light 115 Save machine features a single tank.

All Mito washers are of compact dimensions and equipped with a sensor control system and a display, which conveys running and maintenance information to the operator. A choice of programs can be selected.

Distillation residues are collected in a central round-bottomed (for easy cleaning) area, and cleaning can be automated if required. Filtering systems are automatic.

All Comby models are equipped with three tanks and are more substantial than the Mito models. The four machine line up gives capacities from 55lb to 85lb.

Indy series

Indy series machines are designed to expand with the increasing requirements of the user. The machines feature:

• a rapid distillation system with pre-warmer for low consumption and optimum solvent efficacy

• a computerised management system to control all cycles and operations

• the ability to handle a variety of textiles and fabrics, including leather

For drycleaners that have decided to use hydrocarbon solvents, the HC-Easy range offers a choice of capacities from 35lb to 65lb. The machines have a low centre of gravity, which means a fast rotating speed is possible. This combined with AMA’s patented drying system is designed to give a washing cycle that is as fast as possible.

Distillation is continuous with HC-Easy units, while a separation system is said to guarantee water-free solvent. The machines are fully compliant with European standards.

Contemporary and flexible

“The new machines allow us to bring to our customers a more advanced, flexible and contemporary package than in the past,” says Peter Crane. “ The features now standard give a comprehensive specification coupled with complete performance and reliability. The latter is very important for drycleaners because, although service support is readily available from Duval, confidence counts for a lot.”

The new models are designed not only to please drycleaners. “The machines have been welcomed by our service engineers for their practical design in terms of maintenance,” says Mr Crane.

A brand new range of models is clearly a significant landmark in Duval’s 50-year history. But it must go hand in hand with the other vital ingredient.

“From my perspective as chairman,” says Mr Crane, “It’s very important to have what we believe to be the best product – though that is only 50% of the equation. The other half is service.”

Redesigned ranges: Duval’s new models

Redesigned ranges: Duval’s new models
Redesigned ranges: Duval’s new models
Redesigned ranges: Duval’s new models