Feeders and folders

The latest feeders and folders have innovations and features that improve production, provide a better quality output and save time and energy. Janice Raycroft reports.

By ‘ironing out the pinch points and wrinkles’ technological advances are transforming modern laundries, cutting chunks of time, energy usage and costs throughout the process. Interestingly, when it comes to feeders and folders, automation and cuttingedge technology is meeting simplified design and operation head on. Indeed, some of the latest equipment recently introduced or on its way this year will emphasise ease of operation and maintenance.

It really is a case of getting the best of both worlds, innovative computerised production where this makes most sense, combined with machines designed to keep everything rolling along with ease for both operators and those who count the pennies.

For instance, Foltex BV continues to extend its product range by introduction of cleverly designed simple and reliable machines and a new flatwork feeding unit will be unveiled at Texcare 2020 in June. For Martin Carter, who heads up Foltex UK, working with son Nicholas at authorised dealers Laundryquip, believes simplified maintenance will be a big lure for many laundries.

“Engineering maintenance is a big headache for many laundries,” he says. “High calibre maintenance people are getting scarcer every year. Equipment that is easy to maintain and inherently works well can contribute as much to productivity as some of the more sophisticated developments in robotics and AI.”

Carter is not shy of reality and believes that in busy laundries the most hardworking flatwork machinery can undergo the equivalent of ‘neglect and abuse’, not that he’d accuse any of his own satisfied customers of such behaviour!

“We know that it is appreciated by the repeat orders we get citing reliability as the main reason of choice. One customer has repeat ordered over 50 units mainly for this reason,” he explains.

“In many small to medium plants, which together handle a large proportion of the national total, I believe most productivity benefits can be obtained from a combination of internal logistics; enabling the timely arrival and departure of the goods from the processing point, and genuinely simple to maintain, uncomplicated and reliable machines.

“A common complaint about machine suppliers is the high cost of spare parts, particularly where buying direct from manufacturer source is prevented. Foltex believe that not only should machine design be kept simple, but that spare parts supply should be simple too, and available direct from original manufacturer or local wholesaler.”

Foltex’s new factory provides them with a much larger assembly area.

Foltex moved into their new factory in Best, in the Netherlands, just last year.

Vega Systems UK

Feeders and folders is where it all started for Vega Systems UK, the laundry division of Broadbent, so it is no surprise that they continue to innovate and bring new products to the sector.

General manager Steve Childs says: “Many customers are starting to appreciate the straightforward approach of Vega Systems and the simplicity of our controls, while at the same time benefiting from class-leading innovation and productivity.”

The VegaFold, their biggest selling folder, is available with a wide range of options, can be configured to cover almost any folding application, and has a reputation for quality, simplicity and robustness. It comes as standard with three mechanical knife cross-folds for the very best presentation and it can run up to 60 metres per minute if the application demands it.

Vega System can supply a full-range of stacking options for large or small pieces to enhance the VegaFold further. It may well be the only folder a client will ever need, but Vega Systems make a full range of specialist machinery for when the situation demands it. The last Vega Systems open house event at the Netherlands HQ saw the unveiling of a new APM-S compact folding and stacking system for small-pieces. This machine gives users the possibility for multi-lane, belt-reverse folding with the option of stacking to two separate destinations per lane.

It is possible to sort mixed small-pieces and stack them separately. Childs says: “The APM-S does all of this in a very compact footprint in your laundry. Two stackers per lane give the option of sorting on size or stacking more items inside before they need to be removed. The machine can also integrate with our pack automation conveyors and our VegaScan QA system.

The VegaFold-S provides similar flexibility and the option of sorting large pieces to four stacking destinations. This machine really comes in to its own when it is combined with the VegaScan camera QA system; it is possible to automatically sort and stack pieces without the need for an operator checking pieces at the rear.

Express Linen in Blackpool have recently installed this machine on their five-star linen line where the VegaScan system is scanning each workpiece with double-sided detection, analysing the sheet many times per second with the highest levels of accuracy and repeatability. After the QA scan, the VegaFold-S sorts the items by size then stacks them before they transfer on to a central collecting conveyor. The VegaFold-S combined with camera, a VegaRoll ironer and the TransFeed 4-S provides Express with a very efficient finishing line.

Mark Bruce, managing director comments “We are extremely happy with the VegaFold-S and the VegaScan System. Apart from the benefit of automation, the scan system is very precise; being able to rely on a set quality standard rather than relying on a number of different staff, and their individual quality checks, is a gamechanger. We feel that Vega provide great machinery, along with great service, from initial ideas to installation to after-sales. You can’t ask for more than that.”

Vega have unveiled the new APM-S compact folding and stacking system for smallpieces, giving users the possibility for multi-lane, belt-reverse folding with the option of stacking to two separate destinations per lane.

At Girbau the big interest is in ensuring commercial and industrial laundries really get – and can see – the benefits when they add automation to their laundry. Striving to produce maximum efficiency, they’ve developed automated machines that allow users to save time and effort in almost all laundry processes with a focus on labour costs, time usage and increasing quality of throughput. After all, making gains in one area, for instance operational speed, means little if the linen is not looking perfect at the end of the process.

Jo Emmerson, Girbau UK’s marketing manager, highlighting potential labour savings, says: “Adding a feeder to an ironing system ensures efficiency in a crucial part of the process and, compared to hand feeding, it gives an advantage of quality and production to your business.

The automated feeder not only feeds more quickly than operators by hand, but it also automatically straightens the sheets when they are fed into the ironer, which subsequently eliminates the unnecessary responsibilities for operators in their hands-on folding process. Furthermore, automatic ironing speeds remove moisture as items travel through the ironer, eliminating dryer time and linen wear and tear.”

Emmerson recognises that laundries want to know exactly what they could save and comes up with some impressive figures: “The speed production gained with an automated feeder reduces the utility costs, and the overall daily run time and utility usage. The data in that point is clarifying: The automated feeder just need three operators to feed, and one to catch, and offers an efficiency of 321 PPOH (pounds per operator per hour) and wash 510-900 pounds per hour and fed 840 sheets per hour.”

The feeders produced by Girbau fit on most ironers in the market, which is crucial for the industry and can help businesses justify the purchase of new equipment. In the automation field Girbau has gone further, developing the all-in-one machine Compact+, (feed, iron, dry, fold and stack).

Emmerson says: “This equipment not only allows laundries with little space to have a complete flatwork ironing system, but also ensures efficient operation, saving energy and labour costs. When a machine can process above 180 pounds/ hour, 160 PPOH, can feed 150-210 sheets/hour and accumulates at up to 50 feed-per minute, it all makes sense.”

The Compact+ tends to be the choice for medium and high-production laundr ies, together with Girbau’s HS washers and Girbau’s Eco dryers to save even more energy in one single complete system.

On moving from hand folder to automatic folder, Emmerson believes there are many reasons to take that step, but that the most evident reason to move to an auto-sort folder is improved production. She explains: “It is calculated that the automated machine – using one operator – can sort, fold and stack by 85 per cent more pieces over an operator hand folding, and process different-sized pieces. At the same time, this increased productivity translates into a high reduction of the 87 per cent of labour hour.” Girbau also developed the towel folder FT Maxi, adaptable to all fabrics and able to proceed 1,200 pieces per hour. This equipment offers high quality final folding and incorporates an intelligent system, to programme and execute all the functions of the process in a simple way.

Industry experts watch Girbau’s FR+ folder in action at the new Swiss Laundry.

The Blanketmaster from Kannegiesser has been designed to provide the most efficient method of handling thermal and bath blankets.

The Blanketmaster from Kannegiesser has been designed to provide the most efficient method of handling thermal and bath blankets.

Time can seem to fly as fast as linen in a laundry, and yet it’s still hard to believe that in 2023 Jensen will mark the 60th anniversary of their first combination folder for large pieces which included both a lateral fold and a cross fold section in one machine. But they’ve not been ‘clock-watching’ since then and pioneering research has led to the introduction of numerous innovations. One of the most ambitious projects was launched in 2018 with the aim of further linking folding and stacking. Among the results is the new Kliq feeder, and once again it’s a fine example of simplified design combining with the best technological advances. Kliq is particularly aimed the healthcare and hospitality sector where a high and uniform standard of finishing is required. The vacuum section has been replaced by a transfer beam with a mechanical holding bar, the latter being open in the receiving position as the linen is and then closed during the transfer process.

It’s based on Jensen’s successful Logic 2000 feeder but offers a new level of operator convenience. The trailing edge of linen is pocked up faster, which shortens the cycle time, while the holding bar ensures a high and uniform feeding quality. Working without vacuum suction also reduces maintenance requirements, something all laundries welcome. Kliq is definitely ‘mean’ when it comes to taking up space and has a standard conveyor with a Concorde-shaped nose for direct feeding, eliminating the need for an inlet table on the ironer.

Another space-saver from Jensen is the new and compact Katana folder, launched at The Clean Show in New Orleans last summer, with its inline stackers, so avoiding the issue of stackers placed at the side of traditional folders. New users include the Chi-ma laundry in Florence, Italy which specialise in caring only for the highest quality for top hotels and restaurants in and around the city. Tests by Jensen suggest that operators might produce an extra 350 sheets a day (based on 1,000 sheets an hour over two shifts) on the ironer line as easy access to the crossfold section really cuts down on time often spent on operators having to stop to unjam. That soon adds up over the weeks!

Once again, we’re talking about reduced complexity – it’s not often manufacturers want to promote equipment as ‘a very simple machine’ but Jensen are doing just that with the Katana. It uses common photo cells and the same type of drive motors for cross fold conveyors and stackers. Maintenance is also simple, with easy access behind the safety doors. Even so, with each crossfold conveyor having an inverter-controlled motor with direct drive technology, individual adjustment of the folding and stacking parameters is easily handled.

The Katana gets its name from the Japanese word for knife, explained by all crossfold stations being equipped with reversing conveyors and ‘knife’, allowing greater control of the folding position and a perfect finish of both light and heavy material. Airblow is replaced by the multiblade technology in both lateral and crossfold sections so extra bonuses include a quieter working environment and cutting compressed air consumption by as much as half. While the Katana is providing a solution for laundries such as the Florence operation, other premises are handling different quantities and types of linen, and it is here that Jensen’s Express system comes into its own for speedy delivery of sheets. It has a remote system incorporating a fast cornerless feeding solution and one laundry using it has hit a new production records of processing more than 600 hospital sheets per hour per operator.

Eight operators feed a mix of hospital sheets and draw sheets into two ironer lines via the Express Pro feeding stations, with the Jensen Logic Pro Automatic one and two lane feeder and a three-roll Express ironer and Jensen Classic folder with double outlet direction doing the business before sorting on multiple stackers. Jensen’s Express Twin clamp is designed to fit both types of stations for fast cornerless feeding of sheets, and top-quality feeding of duvet cover corners into conventional remote feeding stations.

Jensen

Time can seem to fly as fast as linen in a laundry, and yet it’s still hard to believe that in 2023 Jensen will mark the 60th anniversary of their first combination folder for large pieces which included both a lateral fold and a cross fold section in one machine. But they’ve not been ‘clock-watching’ since then and pioneering research has led to the introduction of numerous innovations. One of the most ambitious projects was launched in 2018 with the aim of further linking folding and stacking. Among the results is the new Kliq feeder, and once again it’s a fine example of simplified design combining with the best technological advances. Kliq is particularly aimed the healthcare and hospitality sector where a high and uniform standard of finishing is required. The vacuum section has been replaced by a transfer beam with a mechanical holding bar, the latter being open in the receiving position as the linen is and then closed during the transfer process.

It’s based on Jensen’s successful Logic 2000 feeder but offers a new level of operator convenience. The trailing edge of linen is pocked up faster, which shortens the cycle time, while the holding bar ensures a high and uniform feeding quality. Working without vacuum suction also reduces maintenance requirements, something all laundries welcome. Kliq is definitely ‘mean’ when it comes to taking up space and has a standard conveyor with a Concorde-shaped nose for direct feeding, eliminating the need for an inlet table on the ironer.

Another space-saver from Jensen is the new and compact Katana folder, launched at The Clean Show in New Orleans last summer, with its inline stackers, so avoiding the issue of stackers placed at the side of traditional folders. New users include the Chi-ma laundry in Florence, Italy which specialise in caring only for the highest quality for top hotels and restaurants in and around the city. Tests by Jensen suggest that operators might produce an extra 350 sheets a day (based on 1,000 sheets an hour over two shifts) on the ironer line as easy access to the crossfold section really cuts down on time often spent on operators having to stop to unjam. That soon adds up over the weeks!

Once again, we’re talking about reduced complexity – it’s not often manufacturers want to promote equipment as ‘a very simple machine’ but Jensen are doing just that with the Katana. It uses common photo cells and the same type of drive motors for cross fold conveyors and stackers. Maintenance is also simple, with easy access behind the safety doors. Even so, with each crossfold conveyor having an inverter-controlled motor with direct drive technology, individual adjustment of the folding and stacking parameters is easily handled.

The Katana gets its name from the Japanese word for knife, explained by all crossfold stations being equipped with reversing conveyors and ‘knife’, allowing greater control of the folding position and a perfect finish of both light and heavy material. Airblow is replaced by the multiblade technology in both lateral and crossfold sections so extra bonuses include a quieter working environment and cutting compressed air consumption by as much as half. While the Katana is providing a solution for laundries such as the Florence operation, other premises are handling different quantities and types of linen, and it is here that Jensen’s Express system comes into its own for speedy delivery of sheets. It has a remote system incorporating a fast cornerless feeding solution and one laundry using it has hit a new production records of processing more than 600 hospital sheets per hour per operator.

Eight operators feed a mix of hospital sheets and draw sheets into two ironer lines via the Express Pro feeding stations, with the Jensen Logic Pro Automatic one and two lane feeder and a three-roll Express ironer and Jensen Classic folder with double outlet direction doing the business before sorting on multiple stackers. Jensen’s Express Twin clamp is designed to fit both types of stations for fast cornerless feeding of sheets, and top-quality feeding of duvet cover corners into conventional remote feeding stations.

Jensen’s new and compact Katana folder is a space-saver designed to make the job as easy as possible.

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