It’s a changing situation monitored by the likes of Tabish Aiman of Tex ID, who distributes Stahl ironers in the UK. Aiman says: “Relying mainly on the hotel and leisure trades, these large plants could not justify operating the relatively small quantities, not to mention the non-uniform sizes, presented by domestic linen.
“This left an obvious gap in service, from local cleaners to the public. Some cleaners have even resorted to fully drying the linen and using their utility presses (Hoffman type press) to finish the linen. This proves to be costly and time consuming but is one of the few ways of pressing to similar quality levels of a high-power calender.”
Such calenders can require huge amounts of space, energy consumption and staff. To address these issues, Stahl scaled down their multi roll ironers to be much more flexible friends to small and medium-sized operators.
Aiman explains: “Examining the space issue, going to a single roll ironer with a larger diameter roll takes advantage of vertical space. Rather than put in a three-roll 500mm diameter calender, a single roll with a 1200mm diameter calender produces the same work output with half the space. The energy savings, as there are no gaps between rolls, means that the single roll calender will use half to one third of the heating energy required for its three-roll equivalent.
“Moving on to the staffing levels required, we discovered that attention to detail is more important to a domestic retail customer than highly competitively priced hotel linen processing. By both hand feeding and hand folding, the perfect finish is maintained and far better than automated feeders and folders.”
The nature of small to medium sized central processing units, combining drycleaning, wetcleaning, and garment pressing, as well as linen processing, means that labour moves to the workload peaks. The calender no longer needs to run the full length of the work-day but only, perhaps, two hours a day with two operators feeding and two operators folding.
Chase Dry Cleaners, when opening their new central processing plant in Leyton, originally installed a single roll 600mm diameter Stahl calender. As work increased, following the removal of lockdown restrictions, they upgraded to a single 1200mm diameter Stahl calender.
Turning to the needs of a typical high street cleaner, space is often too restrictive for a through feed calender and typically, this is where a return feed ironer is the only option.
Not happy with the quality offered by heated roll ironers, Quality Cleaners, in Buckingham, invested in a heated chest Stahl return feed 2100mm ironer. With limited gas supply onsite, Quality Cleaners decided to purchase an electrically heated machine. By reducing the ironer width to 2100mm, operators can process single and double sheets single handed. King and superking sheets are folded in half, so also requiring a single person for feeding and subsequent folding.
Aiman concludes: “Our customers have become increasingly aware of textile hygiene, and it is important for us to serve the needs of the domestic linen market, for this reason. Stahl continues to innovate and adapt their products for this emerging market. A full range of Stahl single roll calenders, from 300mm to 2100mm diameter widths is now available, with the 300mm to 600mm models having a return feed option.”