It’s a rollover

Janice Raycroft, writer

If we could take a pioneer of the Industrial Revolution into a modern laundry they would be stunned by the automation and computer-controlled equipment. Perhaps the section our visitor from 200 plus years ago might most recognise is the one containing calenders – the basic machinery design and mechanics, task and desired end result would all make sense.

Jan Raycroft reports

However, the ‘Big Smoothies’ of today’s commercial laundries have benefited from huge technological advances in recent years to ensure they not only produce first class results but are flexible, offering efficient and fast running alongside energy-saving features and even extending textile life. And while the human operators have less to do than in the past, safety and ergonomic advances abound.

For instance, Kannegiesser believe their High Power Steam Ironer (HPM) with four rolls and textile care technology is breaking boundaries, offering maximum performance on a minimal footprint, and say it is the most powerful ironer in the world. This calender is designed to handle hospital, hotel and table linen.

By using a gentle ironing process, it can prolong textile life by up to 30 per cent on top of energy savings without making compromises to quality and productivity. After labour costs, textile, energy and water consumptions are the largest costs facing laundry owners. Ironing textiles at high temperatures will damage material fibres, cause discolouration and lead to loss of tear resistance. By reducing the steam pressure to as low as six bar, energy consumption can also be lowered considerably.

The HPM’s extended ironing distance ensures an excellent evaporation capacity and a quality finish even at low temperatures and high speeds. The ‘gentle approach’ comes courtesy of an electro-polished stainless steel heating band, saying ‘goodbye’ to conventional rigid steel beds, which provides excellent thermal conductivity and a smooth ironing surface.

It features new ironer springs, known as ‘Kannpress’, which directly interact with the heating bands, ensuring an even ironing pressure, neatly adapting to varying textile thickness. Alongside maximum contact pressure, you should expect even evaporation and there’s a Flexi Care package (heating band temperature, which is adaptable to individual programmes and items, and selective roll pressure adjustment).

Using a compact design, the entire machine is insulated to reduce heat loss, and by using the heating band, the ironer can reach the required temperature significantly quicker than a conventional chest machine.

An essential component of the Kannegiesser four-roller HPM is the textile care technology. Depending on the processing programme, the temperature of the heating band can be adjusted for different articles, supporting a consistent degree in white and coloured garments. It is also ideal for processing temperature-sensitive items such as polyester table linen.

Kannegiesser believe their High Power Steam Ironer (HPM) is
the most powerful ironer in the world

Made with care by experts: Vega Systems ironers being manufactured in their factory at Oss in the Netherlands.

Depending on the programme, all rollers can be driven at high or low pressure – alternatively the first roll can be set to low pressure and all other rolls to high pressure. This way the ironing process can be adjusted to a wide range of articles.

Many years of experience in the flatwork sector has gone into the industrial ironers offered by Vega Systems, with carefully selected technological advances in their VegaRoll range ensuring they remain a favourite.

As Steve Childs, general manager at Vega Systems UK, explains: “As thread counts increase and demand on ironers goes up, the VegaRoll can provide the power needed to dry and finish linen and give perfect presentation every time. Our three-zone steam chest ensures that condensate is removed quickly and that maximum heating power is available along the whole path through the ironer.

“We use a hybrid of ‘thick’ and ‘thin’ chest to achieve the best of both worlds, power, efficiency and durability. For the heating chest, which takes the highest mechanical loads, we use a German manufactured three-zone thick chest for years of trouble free and efficient production. Our extended bridge piece, which faces very little mechanical load, uses ‘flexible’ chest technology.”

The VegaRoll gas heated ironer provides the power and flexibility to cover a wide range of linen types. Vega UK’s own Gas Safe engineering team can provide peace of mind and a full support service on the burner package. Childs says: “Our burner and heat exchanger are TÜV and CE compliant and again are sourced from German specialists to ensure the highest levels of quality, efficiency and safety.

“The fully modulating burner and the multi-pass heat exchanger means that a full range of heating power is available to cope with different linens or production demands. Of course, only the energy required to meet that demand is used, making the VegaRoll gas ironers a flexible and efficient choice.” For specialist linens, or where there is a requirement for maximum output in a compact footprint, the VegaRoll 1600 features a flexible chest with a huge contact area. The work-piece is in contact with 290 degrees of the 1600 diameter to give exceptional power from a single roll ironer. Additionally, the 1600 ironer features a tapeless design to give the best possible finish to specialist linens.

As well as the 1600 diameter rolls, 800 and 1200 are offered, widths from 3m to 4.2m and both steam and gas heating.

Girbau offers one of the most extensive range of ironers for everything from large industrial to small on-premise laundries including the PC-80 and PC-120 ironers, the mid-range Compact+ ironer and the PB/PBP Series OPL ironers.

The PB and PBP ironers are efficient, easy and very safe to use while offering high throughput and consistent ironing quality. They range from the smallest with a 1.5 metre ironing width and 325mm diameter cylinder, up to the largest PB-5132 with a 3.2 metre ironing width and 510mm diameter cylinder.

The PBP models use photocell detectors to measure and automatically fold items in a single lane accurately, regardless of their length and without the operator needing to manually input the size. As an option the PBP models offer fully automatic folding in one, two or four lanes, with the feeding table positioned for maximum comfort and ease of use. Enhanced safety features include a hand guard protection system.

Girbau’s radiant burner technology and chrome plated Care Touch cylinder ensures even heating across the whole roller, preventing hot spots which can otherwise affect the ability to achieve high quality results and throughput. The Care Touch cylinder’s 270° angle enables high-productivity processing speeds of up to 15 metres per minute on some models.

An Autospeed function automatically adjusts ironing speed depending on the type of material and humidity for consistent high-quality results. The strap tensioning system maintains a uniform ironing cylinder pressure for high quality ironing and a smooth finish. It has also proven to be consistently lower maintenance than other tensioning systems. With the Optifeed function, a green light shows the warmest part of the roller at any given time, indicating the optimal place to feed in the next item for both quality results and efficiency.

Programming and controlling the ironers is straightforward and intuitive thanks to Girbau’s Inteli control. Easily understood icons show the programme in use, the real and the programmed temperature, the speed and the length of the article. The system also suggests the optimum and most productive operating mode. For customers looking to upgrade from an OPL ironer to a small industrial scale operation, the Girbau Compact+ ironer offers a next-step solution. It combines drying, high quality ironing finish, folding and stacking in a space-saving and high productivity solution with just a single operator.

Girbau’s PC-120 is one of the most advanced flatwork ironer range on the market both in terms of energy efficiency and durable, high-productivity performance. The PC-120 ironer’s beds have been designed three-dimensionally using parametric simulation technology to ensure improved fluid passage and optimum performance in transmitting heat to the linen.

The S-coil design of the bed with four parallel circuits ensures uniform heating of the entire ironing surface and prevents the formation of cold spots. This assures consistent high-quality finishing and lower maintenance. Each bed is machine-welded, tested to a pressure of 20 bar and given a mirror finish polish.

The twin-cylinder PC-120 gas model with integral gas boiler delivers greater than 93 per cent thermal efficiency. As well as minimising energy consumption, the boiler can be instantly adjusted for optimal speed, productivity and humidity depending on the type of linen being handled at any time. The PC-120’s Inteli controls allow fine adjustment of speed, ironing temperature and pressure, with temperature adjustable to an accuracy of +/- 1˚C. The control panel’s graphical icons make it very simple and straightforward to use.

Girbau’s PB-5132 is the largest in their OPL range, with a 3.2 metre ironing width and 510mm diameter cylinder.

As well as calenders for large industrial operations, Girbau offers the PB/PBP range for OPLs, including models with photocell detectors to measure and automatically fold items in a single lane.

Chase Dry Cleaners in Leyton upgraded to a single 1200mm diameter Stahl calender when lockdown restrictions ended. Stahl are distributed in the UK by Tex ID.

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.”

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