Bots and bytes dominate in Milan

22 November 2022

Robotics and automation were very much the focus of the show this year along with digitisation in all its many forms and helpful impacts

EXPODetergo 2022 (21 to 24 October) opened for business at Milan’s Fiera Milano exhibition centre with a ribbon cutting ceremony performed by the great and the good of the Italian textile care industry and other dignitaries. Present at the opening ceremony were Luca Palermo, CEO and general manager, Fiera Milano; Marco Sancassani, president of EXPOdetergo International; Giuseppe Conti, president of Assofornitori the Italian textile services trade association; and, Melania De Nichilo Rizzoli, counselor for education and jobs in Lombardy Region.

As the doors were readied to swing open on the biggest textile care event Europe has seen since 2018, EXPODetergo set out its own stand explaining it to be an event built around three main goals: sustainability, digitalisation and sanitisation and offers four days of networking, dedicated to a fundamental sector that ensures quality and hygiene in hotels, restaurants, bars, hospitals and operating theatres.

Today’s latest generation machines are increasingly connected, able to reduce or eliminate the possibility of human error, to plan the management of an item from its arrival to delivery, to manage maintenance even remotely. Digitisation, which is increasingly present due to the strong development of the sector, will characterise a large part of the proposals, ensuring ever more efficient operations and the possibility to keep the same personnel costs while increasing productivity.

LCNi caught up with Philip Ghosh sales manager for Biko UK, for some early general comment on the show. Looking around the hall when setting the previous night, he said: “Just nearing 6pm and exhibitors are pushing to check their equipment and put the finishing touches to the stands. Expecting a very good footfall over the weekend. Bit of a ‘robot wars’ feel to the show as automation is heavily featured on many stands.”

There was good news for Biko UK at EXPODetergo on opening day as it announced it has been appointed distributor for Laundry Robotics in the UK and Ireland. It was also good news for Simtech Automation as the new agency will be managed as a partnership between the two companies.

Ghosh said: “The current difficulties with finding staff has driven the need for laundries to look more closely at ways to automate processes within the plant. With the success that Laundry Robotics has already achieved in Europe, we believed that this was a company that we would want to work with. However, we were also realistic that we needed to bring in a partner that would help us develop and support this particular range of equipment and Simtech were an obvious choice.”

Elsewhere, Kannegiesser was drawing the crowds with its drywork line which automatically feeds, folds and sorts 600 items per hour of a typical hotel mix with four different articles in one batch. Kannegiesser showased the processing of a batch with a hotel mix of bath mats, bidet towels, hand towels, and shower towels on its stand. The drywork line measures the length and width of every article and sorts the towels accordingly on the 4 speed stackers of the folding machine.

The drywork line consists of the newly developed and field-approved feeding robot Robofeed and the folding machine Speedline XFM. The Robofeed is equipped with state-of-the-art camera technology that enables a servo-driven gripper to recognise, separate and feed each item into the folding machine at maximum speed.

Essentially, it allows textile services to automate the entire laundry process between soiled linen sorting and dispatch. A post wash sorting and storage system delivers the towels to the Robofeed line to feed, sort and stack every single piece autonomously. Finally, the Vectura stack management system transports stacks on a belt conveyor system to a central pickup station where displays indicate the customer that the specific stack belongs to.

In order to take full advantage of the automatic drywork line, the laundry operation requires database driven logistics and a monorail sorting and storage system. However, it is also possible to load the drywork line manually if logistics automation is still in development.

Another crowd pleaser was the new SynchroPro Remote which with its Swiftcare feeding principle directs the feeding process piece by piece. According to Kannegiesser, the variety of textiles to be processed is constantly increasing.

For Jensen the biggest eye-catcher was without any doubt the new BLIZZ. This towel feeding robot, built by its partner Inwatec, feeds towels of various sizes into a Jensen Butterfly towel folder – at constantly high speed. Sorting, feeding, folding and stacking of towels can now be done completely hands-free. BLIZZ is new, but the gripper is a proven system, printed in 3D and applied in the THOR robot for a gentle handling of the textiles.

According to Jensen’s Gerda JKanl, the new MetriQ loading station caught the attention of laundry managers seeking to upgrade their garment finishing section. Its unique buttons-to-the-front feature enables the efficient loading of garments with openings on the back, such as patient gowns and scrubs. ‘It’s the most productive and ergonomic loading station in the industry. And no worries about small areas,” says Jank. ‘Five MetriQ fit on the space of four conventional loading stations. That’s 20% savings.

“Our robotics section featured another hands-free process, Inwatec‘s automated soil sort system incorporating robotics, an X-Ray system with AI, is now an all-inone solution as THOR can handle both garments and flatwork in one system. The automated soil sorting system minimises the need for human interaction to quality control and surveillance, and consists of an X-ray machine and a learning system. Laundry managers are convinced this is the best approach to sorting soiled linen.

“Our newest Xpert in drying technology was launched in Milan, namely the XR dryer. Energy savings are one of the most important topics in the laundry industry, and with 15% more evaporation capacity, the new XR dryer is a high-performer that our industry has been eagerly waiting for. Its new drum design offers with bigger and better perforation for a greater air exchange Laundries will be able to achieve the same results with fewer driers. The bigger drum volumes and the wider door openings will excite laundries handling large volumes.

“We are beyond excitement about our participation: our booth was packed from the very first minute,” say Jank.

Domus understands the importance of connectivity and its Domus Connect IoT is free on all products with Touch Control. “There is no licence to buy, it is all part of the package. Operators can see the dashboard full of controls and review remotely from wherever they are, at home or in the office. They can easily check on business, price plans, adjust detergents as effectively as if standing in front of the machine. Everything can be done from a laptop and exported to the machines,” said Gemma Colomer, communications and marketing manager.

“Domus’ new generation IoT enables all of the company’s machines, whether washing machines, tumble dryers or ironing machines, to be connected, managed and maintained remotely. All of this is possible in our second generation of Touch controls.Visitors to the stand are very interested in Domus Connect. We are seeing visitors from all sectors of the industry,” said Colomer.

In its 100th year, Domus reported a very promising start to its time at EXPODetergo “The experience over the first two days of the show has been very satisfactory. We have been seeing many of our current dealers on the stand, so we have been busy explaining new features like, for example our new 80kg industrial tumble dryer with automatic sliding door. “

Domus can now offer heat pump dryers from 8-10 kg up to 22kg. “They don’t need water to refrigerate or an exhaust connection to the exterior, so they are ideal for laundries with no vent access to exterior. The latest generation of these machines is launching in January 2023. The patent of the new heat exchanger means we can really heat up the hot air and dry air which allows for shorter cycle times. Maintenance is easy from the front so great for coin laundries.

“There is also the 1680kg industrial washer with soap box at the front and, again, easy front access for maintenance.,” said Colomer. “They are compact machines with electric 180 degree-opening door for easy operation.”

Milnor’s booth featured an array of equipment including rigid-mount, soft-mount and barrier washer-extractors, plus a 5-module PulseFlow® technology tunnel. Milnor used a PulseFlow demonstration model to give attendees a first-hand look at how their tunnel systems work.

“We enjoyed seeing many of our dealers, important customers and friends throughout the EXPODetergo show,” said Rick Kelly, vice president of sales and marketing. “We were pleased with the overall show and believe our equipment was well received by attendees.”

Girbau’s EDD double dryer, designed for the vended laundry sector and engineered to save energy, debuted at the show. Visitors were also able to discover Sapphire, the smart platform from that allows a laundry to be remotely managed, in an entirely secure, efficient way, says thew company.

“The innovative, revolutionary GENIUS range of washing machines and the Sapphire portfolio of smart was also on display at Girbau’s interactive experience, says Girbau chair and CEO, Mercè Girbau. “We were delighted to present our innovative solutions focused on sustainability, taking that to mean caring for the environment, saving energy, ease of use and profitability for our customers. Visitors had the chance to learn about solutions, as well as receive advice from our company’s experts.”

According to Erwin Vanspauwen of CLM Texfinity: “We saw a lot of our loyal returning customers ánd a lot of new interested customers as well.

“During the Covid period we expanded our range of industrial laundry machines. We have added an 80kg per compartment tunnel washer. In addition to our strong high pressure press of 57bar, we have added a medium pressure press for smaller laundries. A picker separator facilitates untangling linen from the dryers. The small piece folding range will shortly be extended by our blade folding folder to better serve garment folding.

“For OPL we have added stand alone washer extractors to our range, sizes from 18 to 120kg. Stand alone dryers are currently under development. For this new segment we are looking for dealers.

“We showed the excellent S.feed-s-4 feeder with 4 feeding stations in combination with the high-speed quality sheet folder, the S.fold-s. Also the continuously improving S.towel-a folder.

“The new generation washer extractors (18 and 100kg capacity) with robust construction and modern, neat design got a lot of attention. We also focused on our ‘Next level Support, being a most important element our customers’ value peerception.”

“It was clearly noticeable that the topic of digitalisation and paperless production 4.0 has experienced an even stronger upswing in the last two years. The very great interest in our IT solutions was unrestrained on all four days of the trade fair,” says Michael Wieser, sales director of SoCom. “Innovative app and web solutions and software modules for an efficient and resource-oriented workflow are more in demand than ever.”

“With the clear focus on digitalisation of the textile service industry in the direction of paperless production, EXPODetergo was once again a very efficient dialogue platform for us. The great demand for a future-proof IT solution and a competent partner showed us how important the topic is for customers and interested parties.”


Ken Cupitt of the UK’s Guild of Cleaners and Launderers gives his take on the show. “In drycleaning,” he says:,“I am going to follow up on the alternative to polythene made from waterproofed potato starch on the Organix stand. I also spent time looking at automatic _nishing machines, especially the one on the Sankosha stand, but I found that they were no more than drying machines rather than _nishing equipment. Of interest were the auto load conveyors and the 24 hour dispenser for customer collections, although I do have a concern about the security issue of this system.

“In laundry, robotics was certainly the theme this year, useful in a world shortage of labour. Laundry Robotics, Holland, Jenson and Kannegiesser all had machines for picking up towels (terry) and feeding through folding, sorting into sizes, and stacking.

“Laundry Robotics was the most impressive at 720 per hour (others 500 - 600), which does two versions, Roy and Robin. Robin is the bigger beast covering all sizes of towels, Roy is aimed at the hospital market and only sorts into two sizes. Towels with a logo can be folded with the logo on the top, the machine picking it up and turning it over if necessary and folding, plus sorting into sizes and stacking, all without labour.”

Curpitt also picked out Christeyns’ newly launched enzyme technology to reduce energy usage and wastewater costs.

On the shiow generally: “People there were interested in spending but not yet ready to place orders, according to the senior people that I spoke to,” reports Cupitt.

Sarah Sheikh of Elite Drycleaners in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, said: “We were very interested in the Organix stand and found their product to be very environmentally friendly. We have already reduced the amount of plastic that we use in the shop by giving our customers an alternative, using the reusable non-woven bags for garments and duvets, and also using reusable bags for laundry.

“We were looking at the shoe cleaning stand, RevitaPoint. This is something that we could use as another service to offer the customers. We will be making further enquiries about this.

“At the Grandimpianti stand we really loved their roller iron. We have always found their machine quality to be of a very high standard which is why we use their washing machines and dryers. We have ordered a roller iron for the shop and are really excited about this.”

“We really enjoyed the Cinet competition and the ExpoDetergo Exhibition. It’s always good to see what others are doing and great to learn new things,” concludes Sheikh.

HEAD TURNER: Kannegiesser’s advanced robotics turned heads on its large and impressive stand
OPEN ALL HOURS: The ribbon is cut and the show gets under way
BIG DEAL: Phil Ghosh, right, and Marc van Boekholt, head of marketing for Laundry Robotics, shaking hands to seal the deal for Biko UK to be LR’s UK distributor
TOTAL BLISS: Jensen’s new BLIZZ towel folder

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