Pressing the point home

It’s been said before and it’s worth saying again, no matter how good a wash is, the end results will always be judged by the finish.

Badly ironed items and garments riddled with creases look bad and send the wrong signal to customers – actual and potential. Good equipment and skilled machine operators are critical to the success of a laundry. But where to start when so many suppliers offer so many choices? And of course, the decision goes beyond the initial purchase and installation – backup and supplies are an important consideration too. Adam Bernstein delves in and finds out what is on offer.

Girbau UK

Jo Emmerson, marketing manager for Girbau UK, says that the company continues to specify Ghidini finishing equipment as part of its Clean Surf wetcleaning solution. She says that the finishing equipment range includes steam generators, finishing tables, presses, garment formers and trouser toppers – and “each is designed to ensure garments have the correct amount of tension to provide customers with excellent finished results.”

Emmerson makes a point when she says that earlier this year, the DoubleTree by Hilton Milton Keynes invested in multiple pieces of finishing equipment to complete its newly installed Girbau laundry: “The key objectives and justification in considering a full in-house laundry with press and finishing facilities, in addition to the financial benefits, was to have full control of stock, and to improve the quality of the linen provided to guests.”

The four people, per shift, housekeeping team not only process hotel linen, but guest laundry and front of house staff uniforms; which requires delicate wet cleaning and professional finishing.

Alongside wash, dry and flatwork ironing equipment installed by Girbau, the DoubleTree laundry included a MC105 garment former which, Emmerson says, “offers rapid ironing, with exceptional results for garments such as coats and suit jackets.” A 350-degree revolving body with automatic front and rear paddle clamps combines the act of tightening with the air flow and the action of the steam “to achieve excellent results… this versatile finishing unit can stiffen thick jacket structures and coats perfectly, as well as ironing thinner fabrics like shirts, extremely efficiently.” Girbau can also supply what Emmerson describes as “a highly efficient Tornado finishing table” with blowing function, making it possible to create a cushion of air to help iron garments with any protruding parts. She says that this piece of kit is extremely useful for finishing staff uniforms which have may have delicate trims, pockets and decorative buttons.

Girbau say that Ghidini’s T3000 trouser topper is ideal for fast, efficient and high quality finishing of trousers. It features an air operated lock around the trouser top area and a leg stretching device. Emmerson says that Girbau understands that details matter… and the ironing, finishing or garment forming stage is critical to the presentation of any garment that has been wet cleaned: “Having the best professional finishing equipment to be able to offer a superior finish not only makes the process easier, it also improves the quality of your work and increases the profitability of your business.”

Fundamentally, Emmerson thinks that “a great finish highlights the gentle care given to your customers garments.” When training, Girbau says it will explain all the equipment required in detail and can demonstrate the processes and the special care needed to ensure a perfect finish. Training is provided in practical exercises under the guidance of knowledgeable textile care experts to ensure laundries can put training into practice.

Service Machinery Ltd

The Veit 8363 Multiform from Sermac can be paired with an ironing table such as the Veit Varioline CR2.

Stephen Pick of Service Machinery Limited finds that many independent high street cleaners “still favour the traditional scissor press and in the hands of a skilled operator it is a very versatile piece of equipment capable of producing top quality results.” This, he says, is one of the reasons Veit re-introduced a range of automatic presses in both traditional scissor (8910) and ‘fastback’ (8920) formats; both being available with two sizes of universal or dedicated legger buck shapes.

Pick reckons that another piece of equipment that is popular with many independents is the rotor cabinet. “Capable of finishing jackets and trousers to a reasonable standard,” he says that its other advantages are “the compact floor space required and the enclosure of the garment when steaming so hot moist air can be ducted outside.” That said, garments from the cabinet will require further work though if a top-quality finish is required, in particular Pick says jacket linings will need a touch-up.

Looking at another device, the traditional scissor press, Pick says that it requires a skilled presser to get the best out of it – “separate jacket finishers, such as the Veit 8363 Multiform when paired with an ironing table such as the Veit Varioline CR2 enable an operator to achieve high throughput and very high quality standards with minimal training or experience.” He says that the Veit workflow method suggests touching-up of a jacket first so that when it comes off the multiform it is ready for the hanger.

Similarly Pick believes that toppers, such as the Veit 8741, “enable even inexperienced operatives to produce good quality [items], reliably and consistently due mainly to the accurate and repeatable re-tensioning achieved through a belt drive rather than older ‘air-ram’ designs.” The Veit 8741, he adds, features anti-stretch on length as standard with waistband anti-stretch available as an option “so even easily stretched garments can be processed safely.”

Both Veit’s multiforms and toppers can handle wet or dry cleaned items. The 8741, Pick feels, is “particularly impressive on denim jeans and to some peoples surprise also does an excellent job on skirts.” Next comes the Veit CR2 ironing table. On this Pick says it “showcases Veit’s cold finishing technology.” And he describes the process as that where instead of heating a table to keep it dry Veit has adopted high airflow as the tool for the job. Veit claims that its cover system is “highly permeable and allows the powerful fan to keep the cover dry even when in continuous use.” Suction sets the ironed finish in the fabric, before it has a chance to degrade by cooling the garment almost the instant the iron is removed. A large ironing surface – 1400mm x 500mm – allows a trouser to be laid flat and finished in one movement. The Veit CR2 is available with a smaller dress board or a rectangular surface to suit par ticular ironing requirements.

Turning to the Veit HP2003 Iron, Pick says that its “excellent balance and ergonomic design is a result of many years refinement. The point shape alone took many attempts before one was found that suited general ironing tasks perfectly.” The heated sole plate has a steam chamber design “which allows good steam quality

Dane Realstar

Dane Realstar, supplier of the Realstar range of drycleaning machines, “offers a full range of finishing equipment to suit all requirements for the launderer, drycleaner and ironing service outlets” – so says Nicholas Higgs, partner and sales and service manager at Dane Realstar. He continues: “We promote the sale of finishing equipment to enable us to offer the customer a complete package. Dane offers competitively priced equipment backed up by excellent after sales training. We also offer prompt full service back up by our experienced engineers.”

Dane supplies the Fimas and Sidi ranges of machines that features automatic and manual presses along with a range of ironing tables available with all the features required users. From Higgs’ point of view, Fimas is “well known in over 60 countries worldwide and has been producing high quality well-built equipment since the 1980’s.”

Higgs believes that with the complete Fimas range in his portfolio he has “found that customers are impressed with the robustly built machines which offer quality, reliability and durability.” He adds that Fimas equipment produces “excellent finishes for both wet and drycleaning operations with the full stretching and tensioning systems available on the formers and trouser toppers.” For laundry work Higgs can supply nickel plated, hot head presses, in which the head and buck are both steam heated. He says that the automatic closing of the top buck allows the operator to produce a high volume of high-quality finished garments, adding that he can also supply roller ironers for all needs.

It does appear to Higgs that the use of a manual or automatic garment press is becoming popular again with drycleaners precisely because they “give a high-quality finish to garments.” He says that these presses can be supplied either self-contained with a built-in boiler or for connection to central services. They are also offered with a built-in vacuum unit or can be connected to a central vacuum. As for ironing tables, Higgs says that there is a huge selection available including vacuum and blowing tables, vacuum heated tables, “and the favourite of many drycleaners,” the steam, vacuum and blowing tables with steam electric or all steam irons fitted.

As for the Sidi range, Higgs says that it is well established in the UK and “is renowned for its reliability and state of the art design.” He says that Dane has been supplying the Sidi range for many years. But to this he says that he can now offer the Camptel range of equipment, “including the famous cabinet.” He points out that the company was purchased by Anghinetti in 2000 its products are now available again worldwide.

For customers interested, Dane Realstar has recently set up a demonstration unit to help prospective customers use machines before making a purchase. The company also offers a full installation service and its engineers are available to assist with other matters. Dane carries a full range of spare parts for total customer care.

Dane offers the Fimas 208 automatic press to help laundries offer great finishes.

For laundries with higher production volumes, TexID points to Barbanti’s P700 Utility Double Buck Press.

TexID

According to Tabish Aiman, managing director of TexID Limited, there are three key parts of the laundry process required to give customers what they want – quality of steam and heating, skill of the operator and selection of correct equipment for each fabric and garment type.

Aiman also thinks that the heart of any hand finish operation is the iron and the table. He says: “The iron needs to be light enough to prevent fatigue whilst, at the same time, retaining enough downward pressure to set the fabric with a perfect, crease-free finish.” He’s keen on a Teflon shoe option to prevent ‘shine’ on woollen fabrics.

His firm, TexID, supplies Barbanti units which offers several irons – from their combinat ion steam and electrically heated, Jolly and Iron Master range, through to their all steam lightweight variant.

Moving onto the finishing table, Aiman says its shape needs to suit the garments being pressed. “Vacuum functionality,” he says, “is a must to stretch and maintain fabric’s desired shape as well as draw the iron’s steam through the fibres. But to speed the process and relax fabrics, an upsteam functionality is highly desirable, saving time and ensuring a higher level of finish.” He adds that a blow function balances the pressure from the iron to suit delicate or difficult fabrics.

It’s a point worth making but as far as Aiman is concerned, a finishing table’s shape needs to follow the contours of the garment being pressed as well as being able to adequately support crease points in specific garments such as trouser legs and shirt sleeves. This is because “it allows the operator to precisely position garments, applying creases without degrading the balance of the fabric’s pressing.” Aiman is pleased to say that Barbanti manufacture a wide range of buck designs to suit the various types of garments that require hand finishing.

The range starts with the base level T series table which provides an electrically heated surface and vacuum functionality through to the TFSP, which features multiple buck options, blowing and upsteam options, and the TV and TV403 full function ironing stations with all surface upsteam, blowing and suction vacuum.

All finishing table models, says Aiman, have options for sleeve arms, overhead lighting, spotting arms and iron stands to tailor the solution for each application.

And for those laundries with larger needs, there is Barbanti’s P700 utility double buck press. “Unlike other utility presses,” says Aiman, “the P700’s pneumatic operation of the top buck can be controlled by either foot or table operated controls, allowing the operator to choose their preference.” In addition, he says training new press operators is greatly sped up by timed buck down controls as well as pressure level controls.

Aiman emphasises that Barbanti aims to keep equipment in peak condition, and so “chooses the highest quality padding and top cloths for all presses, ensuring longevity of life and providing a consistently high-quality finish.” But nothing lasts forever, which is why he says that parts are easily replaced from stock held in the UK.

In summary, Aiman knows that the market is moving toward tensioning machines specifically designed for each type of garment (shirt finishers, trouser toppers, form finishers). It’s for this reason that he says that the combination of high-quality equipment and skilled operators are the only way to deliver a true hand finish.

Electrolux Professional UK

Mick Christian, regional training and demonstration manager for laundry at Electrolux Professional UK, is a firm believer in high-quality ironing and finishing equipment being “essential to provide that crisp finish that keeps customers happy and increases the likelihood of them returning.”

He says that all Electrolux Professional products have been designed with the specific needs of the laundry operator front of mind and its finishing equipment “is suitable for both large and small scale operations.” He adds that the Electrolux Professional flatbed type ironer (IB) and the cylinder type of ironer (IC) work across a range of market sectors. In particular, the IB range is ideal for smaller items with a working width of 1-1.6m, while the IC range combines the drying and ironing function, to allow operators to take items straight from washer to ironer.

Furthermore, Electrolux Professional’s ironer range features return, straight feed and manual or automatic feeding or folding. As Christian details, “the feeder folder stacker range can reduce staff costs as only one person is required to feed, iron, dry, fold, cross fold and stack flatwork such as sheets, tablecloths and smaller items like pillowcases” and specially designed electronic controls guide the operator step-by-step, displaying all information for the machine’s adjustments.

In addition, the control panel can be networked via software to provide data of every step in the drying and ironing process so that the ironing temperature and speed can be adjusted at any point. Christian also points out that an indicator light can inform the operator if retained humidity after ironing exceeds eight per cent, “ensuring optimum dryness and hygiene.”

The majority of Electrolux Professional ironers also come with other technologies such as the DIAMMS (Direct Ironer Advanced Moisture Management System) which, Christian says, “means operators have automatic control over the ironer’s speed regardless of the fabric type.” He also points out Dubixium cylinders which he claims increases productivity by “ensuring that heat is always evenly distributed throughout the ironer via the patented thermal oil flow inside the cylinder.”

Of course, some sites have space at a premium. Electrolux Professional’s solution here is the myPRO IS185 steam ironer. “Ideally suited for businesses, such as B&Bs, restaurants, and care homes,” says Christian, “the myPRO steam ironer is a scalable alternative to hand ironing with thanks to its compact foldable design. The long-lasting steam produced by the superior 1.9 litre capacity water tank can be easily filled on the go if the steam ironer is required to move between rooms.”

Christian finished by noting that the myPRO steam ironer is also able to process a variety of fabric types, and offers five temperature settings, as well as a wide 85cm roller. He reckons that it has the “ability to remove creases in fabric faster than domestic irons, offering full flexibility and productivity in any laundry environment.”

The Electrolux myPRO steam ironer can process a variety of fabric types, and offers five temperature settings, as well as a wide 85cm roller.

MAG’s roller irons are available in one, 1.2 and 1.4 metre models – two pairs of hands do help.

MAG Laundry Equipment

Kieron Kendell, sales director at MAG Laundry Equipment, is of the view that laundries looking for perfect ironing results should “look no further than MAG Laundry Equipment; we are well-known in the industry for supplying highquality, efficient, affordable laundry machines.” He says that “whether your business is small or large MAG can recommend the best machine for the job to meet your expectations and budget.”

Popular models include roller irons, drying irons and finishing tables “plus,” says Kendell, “MAG also supplies multifunctional calenders that are able to dry, iron, feed, fold and stack flatwork linen efficiently and to the highest quality.”

Starting with the smaller scale devices, Kendell says MAG’s roller irons “are easy to use and perfect for small businesses.” And he claims that they are very popular within laundries on ships, restaurants, B&Bs, care homes, and beauticians and other establishments. The roller irons are available in various sizes including one metre, 1.2 metre and 1.4 metre models “which,” Kendell says, “are commonly used for ironing napkins, tablecloths, small bed sheets and pillowcases.”

For the larger operation Kendell points to MAG’s drying ironers which, he says, are popular within on-premise laundries as well as commercial laundry shops, hotels and hospitals. In his view, drying irons are designed to provide the highest quality finish and “they make easy work” of napkins, pillowcases, bed sheets, duvet covers, tablecloths and other flatwork items that can be dried and ironed in a single operation directly from a high spin washing machine.

Kendell reckons that MAG’s commercial drying ironers “are extremely popular products thanks to the excellent finish and very competitive price.”

One point Kendell is keen to make is that MAG’s range of drying ironers are design-led. In explaining this, he says that they “are energy efficient and operate with the front feeding and front return of linen, a built-in cool down system and stainless-steel panels.” Further, they are easy to maintain and can process 120kg of laundry per hour.

For laundries at the upper end of the commercial scale, Kendell suggests the CTP range “which can meet the demands of the largest laundry operations.” These units come with various options for the feeding, folding and stacking of linen, the prime ones being front feed and front return of linen, length fold, cross fold and stacking options, one or two working lanes, touchscreen technology and energy efficiency. Of course, Kendell wants to emphasise other products from MAG Laundry Equipment including a range of finishing equipment such as ironing tables, pneumatic presses, cabinets, universal mannequins and more for the finishing of general laundry such as clothing and bedding.

MAG offers a range of payment options and packages “to suit each customer.” Some customers, says Kendell, choose to purchase machines outright while others choose to pay monthly for their new commercial laundry machines by leasing or renting the equipment.

MAG Laundry Equipment also offers nationwide coverage for maintenance visits, repairs, gas certificates and service contracts for virtually all commercial laundry machines on the market

The Pony Genus-SV, from Renzacci, is designed to be an energy efficient finishing table.

Renzacci UK

As the purchasing behaviour of consumers begins to shift with thoughts of the environment in mind, and businesses look to boost profits and find efficiencies, Jason Alexander, managing director of Renzacci UK is seeing drycleaners and laundries starting to introduce energysaving finishing equipment into their facilities “in the hope of reducing their environmental impact, decreasing costs, increasing production and generating more profit.”

And he reckons that at the vanguard of this movement is finishing equipment manufacturer, Pony. “As the UK’s foremost distributor for Pony,” says Alexander, “Renzacci has been instrumental in introducing their range of garment finishing and pressing machines to the market… to ensure clients are best-placed to thrive in a fiercely competitive industry.”

And to illustrate the point, Alexander looks to the Pony Genus-SV: “This finishing table, which is electrically heated, is a step up in quality, competitiveness and energy consumption, compared to previous models.” He says that it incorporates a vacuum, hot air blow and steam from the buck, and can be supplied either with a fixed or adjustable height board. He adds that the increased buck size “also allows for easier and faster use, particularly for trouser finishing.”

For those wanting a slightly more traditional machine, but nonetheless, still energy-efficient, Alexander says to consider the Pony SP-U press. “This manually-operated machine boasts a balanced head, using special self-adjusting springs, allowing optimal alignment of the head and buck. Other exciting features include a built-in vacuum and boiler with varying size and power, a blowing device on the buck and the instant production of steam to both the head and buck.” This unit is similar to other Pony machines and is compact in size – “it’s simple to maintain and easy to use, making it the ideal fit for the traditional dry cleaner,” says Alexander. The appeal for Alexander of Pony is that it “continues to roll out some incredible pieces of equipment, which are very competitively priced and incorporate all of the low running costs you would expect.” He takes the line that as environmentally friendly credentials become an even more important factor in purchasing behaviour, it’s ever so important for manufacturers to release machines that incorporate energy-saving features. Pony units, for Alexander, offer this as a real selling point for his clients.

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