Solving the solvent problem

Just because wetcleaning seems to be in vogue doesn’t mean that traditional drycleaning should be ignored. Far from it.

The technology and quality of drycleaning equipment has moved on with the advent of time; perc together with alternative solvents have kept drycleaning very much current. Intelligent operating systems and other innovations have reduced running and maintenance costs while improving energy efficiency and at the same time, now offer ‘greener’ solutions and faster turnaround times. Adam Bernstein looks at what the suppliers can offer the industry in 2021.

Service Machinery Limited

Jumping straight in Stephen Pick of Service Machinery Limited tells the story, in 1945, Max Böhler (BÖ) and Ferdinand Weber (‘WE’) founded BÖWE with the aim of producing the finest textile cleaning machinery available: “They produced excellent machines right away but never satisfied they strove to make improvements to the product range, and for over 70 years BÖWE engineers have worked to improve their machines.”

He reckons that “tireless innovation by generations of engineers has been aimed at developing machines which are safer and easier to use, quieter in operation and are world leaders in the efficient use and recycling of energy and solvent.” He says that today the result of these efforts is embodied in the BÖWE PremiumLine which is available in capacities from 12kg to 30kg. Pick is careful to explain that as with all machines sold in accordance with the SLEAT Code of Conduct, “the PremiumLine is fully configured to meet or exceed not only UK Solvent Emissions Directive (SED) requirements, but also any pollution control regulations found anywhere in Europe. It offers an array of optional features which enable a drycleaner to perform the most exacting tasks with ease.” As for standard features, the unit has Variable Speed Drive with Electronic Balancing System to enable spin speeds of up to 600 rpm while the power drying system, SuperDry PDS+, is said to reduce cycle times and energy costs. With additional features such as the Slimsorba active-carbon recovery unit, solvent consumption figures of 640kg of garments per litre of solvent are achievable says Pick.

While perc remains the most popular solvent, in the UK, for general drycleaning, Pick notes that the PremiumLine also features the ‘M’ series of multisolvent machines that support the use of class III A solvents such as hydrocarbon, Solvon K4, Rynex, Cyclosiloxanes (such as GreenEarth), HiGlo, Intense and Sensene. He adds that with capacities of 12kg to 30kg the ‘M’ series “brings BÖWE technology and years of experience with alternative solvents to this segment, resulting in machines which lead the field in performance, reliability and ease of use.” And something else to consider when buying a new machine – the commonality between the ranges means that the ‘P’ machines will convert to ‘M’ operation with minimal changes. The PremiumLine is now also available as the Black Forest edition which is hand built to order in the BÖWE plant in Sasbach, Germany.

Moving on to newer machines, in 2017 BÖWE introduced the iLine, Pick says that a complete rethink of the production methods used led BÖWE to produce a machine which shares many design features with the PremiumLine but at a lower price point. They are available for either perc or multisolvent – “the multisolvent design means efficient operation and easy conversion of a perc machine to multisolvent specification if required.” BÖWE iLine is available in 12kg, 15kg and 18kg capacities, slim or wide format, with steam or electric heat and from stock “at surprisingly affordable prices.” And for those cleaning on an industrial scale, for example, those who clean workware, mats, gloves or animal skins, BÖWE offer the InduLine. “This,” says Pick, “is a highly sophisticated and individually configured modular machine with automatic loading/unloading options, loading capacities up to 200kg and a number of solvents to suit the application.”

Pick gives a brief summary of the technologies found in all BÖWE drycleaning machines.

  •  Round BÖWE distillation – built from Titanium enriched grade of stainless steel, the round shape means no corners to dig sludge out of.
  • Still temperature sensor – assesses the progress of the distillation process.
  • Aerodynamic airduct – an air heater adds heat to the drying process and exits through a perforated cage which encourages airflow front to back, top to bottom and diagonally.
  • Control of the dip level – ensures a consistent and correct dip level.
  • Solvent turbidity sensor – the solvent from the first bath is measured, optically, to see how dirty (or coloured) it is. If not dirty it is pumped back to be used in the next cycle. If it is dirty it is pumped to still in the normal fashion. Turbidity measurement can help avoid unnecessary distillation.
  • Disinfection in drycleaning – BÖWE has developed a technology to disinfect linens in a drycleaning machine.

BÖWE’s round distillation, as offered by Service Machinery Limited, can withstand high levels of vacuum

Service Machinery Limited offers the BÖWE iLine in 12kg, 15kg and 18kg capacities, slim or wide format

Firbimatic EcoGreen advance series machines from CML Equipment Solutions are available in rigid models ranging from 18kg to 40kg loading capacity

CML Equipment Solutions

Chris Lambourne, director of CML Equipment Solutions, says his company offers a wide range of drycleaning machines from Firbimatic.

Starting with the F range that have smaller capacities of 10kg to 15kg, Lambourne says that they’re available in both perc and alternative solvents, with both slimline two tank and wide three tank versions. He says that “they’re designed to comply with strict environmental regulations and to achieve ultimate cleaning results with the lowest possible operational costs and be very simple to maintain.” He adds that the F-series machines offer a number of additional advantages in operational savings as they are equipped with standard features that include an energy still with a heat pump and integrated recovery of distillation vapour for drying that reduces energy consumption.

In fact, Lambourne says that all Firbimatic drycleaning machines can be supplied with automatic cleaning of the evaporator coil. This works, he says, because at the start of a selected programme the coils are sprayed with solvent which is pumped to the still ensuring that there is no build-up of fluff in the evaporator – “this eliminates the need to have the coils inspected on a regular basis cutting down on service charges and offers good drying and low energy consumption.”

Also available on this range is a “comprehensive and user friendly” eight-inch colour touchscreen. The screen allows operation in manual or automatic mode and is equipped with full diagnostic features. Information displayed on the screen offers fast notification of any issues with the machine and so should reduce service cost and downtime. The touchscreen can also be accessed via an ethernet port for updates, remote support and maintenance capabilities. Next is the Omnia range. On this Lambourne says that the F Omnia models are available in 15kg to 32kg capacities and offer cleaners “a highly flexible tool when using alternative solvents” that allow for increased levels of production while complying with different international environmental standards.

Lambourne notes that the F Omnia range was designed, engineered and successfully tested by Firbimatic “for maximum results when utilising all class III A alternative and ecological solvents including hydrocarbon, Sensene, Solvon K4, K-tex and silicone based solvents, with no major modifications required.” But aside from Firbimatic’s concern for the protection of the environment, Lambourne says that the company also recognises the “importance of introducing concrete, viable solutions to the industry that incorporates technology that is both flexible and innovative.”

Lambourne talks about Firbimatic’s EcoGreen advanced vortex system. “Firbimatic has always been on the cutting edge of development and has designed and engineered another breakthrough in state-of-the-art multisolvent cleaning machine technology – the EcoGreen advance series machines which are available in rigid models ranging from 18kg to 40kg loading capacity.”

As he outlines, “the EcoGreen range allows the flexibility to use any hydrocarbon class III A/B solvent without having to make any changes to the physical construction of the machine.” Further, he adds that “Firbimatic has the vortex vapour induction drying which greatly reduces drying times thanks to a combination of factors such as a unique high-volume fan and drying chamber design along with special placement of the condensing and heat pump coils.” Firbimatic claim that its vortex “greatly increases” the induction f low of both air and solvent vapour into the recovery chamber “resulting in shorter overall cycle times from start to finish.” And of course, increased production in less time means greater throughput and more profit.

Lastly, Lambourne points out that Firbimatic can offer industrial-level machines to those that need them. “Firbimatic’s industrial drycleaning machines,” he says, “can be operated with any chosen solvent.” Capacities vary from 60kg to 160kg tandem machines, can handle chlorine and hydrocarbons and can be used for specific industrial applications including degreasing and cleaning of hides in the tanning industry, and the cleaning of industrial items such as work clothes, workshop rags, gloves and the like.

In summary, Lambourne says that all Firbimatic machines come with closed-loop purification and filtering systems “which reduce environmental pollution to zero.” And as washing and drying functions are completely managed by computer, he says that human errors are eliminated and the dispersion of harmful substances into the surrounding environment should be minimised.

“Firbimatic,” says Lambourne, “is committed to providing its customers with safer and high-performance machines while demonstrating utmost respect for people and the environment.”

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