My impression of the Clean Show started on an extremely positive note. Not only was the weather great – far better than the rain we had during the last Clean Show in Georgia – and the badge pickup could not have been smoother.
I made every attempt to be as prepared as possible, printing out my flight itinerary, hotel reservation, press pass, and clean show reservation at my office. But, alas, I forgot all of that on my office desk so I approached the Clean Show registration arena thinking I would be a real problem child. Not so. There were more than enough self-service kiosks to easily look up your pre-paid reservation and print your badge in an instant. This simply could not have gone better. This got my day going in the right direction!
There were enough key innovations to cause an awful lot of chatter. Like what? How about an innovation built into equipment I included in my Christmas Wish List a decade ago? How about a game-changing shirt press? How about a 60-year-old shirt unit feature that somehow lost its way and is now making a welcome comeback?
There were at least a half dozen hanger manufacturers offering products from Europe, the United States and elsewhere. Each offered solutions to what they know pains us most: unpredictable supply. None promised a low price but they all promised good hangers, on time.
A Tale of Two Family Businesses
Both my grandfathers were in the laundry business when I was born. My paternal owned Star Shirt Service in the 1930s through 50s. Sometime in the 50s or 60s, he sold the business to his youngest son. My father had gone to work for his father-in-law (my maternal grandfather) in the coin laundry business (which would soon become a drycleaning facility). So, it was my Uncle Ric who owned Star Shirt Service until he closed it in the 1960s when polyester and casual dress became a way of life and his sales plummeted. He went to work for my Dad in the drycleaning business and then later for me in the shirt business where he brought a wealth of knowledge and experience. While he owned Star Shirt, he bought a new Ajax shirt unit, much to the chagrin of my grandfather who was a diehard Unipress man. Anyway, Ajax had a unique feature. The bucks were not heated and the buck on the body press was available in a number of widths. Because of the flat heads – which were unique at the time – any width buck would work. Few people even knew about this. My uncle explained that at lunchtime when the staff went to lunch, he and his wife would swap the bucks to small ones and do the small shirts and blouses themselves.
Unipress has brushed off this basic concept and now offers the option to buy a smaller buck. They also padded the bucks in different colors; red and white Nomex. A memory aid for this for the presser is red, (the small word) is on the small buck while white is on the bigger buck.
While we’re discussing Unipress, they made the tail plate MUCH easier to remove and replace. It now takes just 10 seconds. It snaps in place and you can also upgrade your current tail plate to this new simple mechanism. Unipress also made a huge improvement to the cuff clamp on their Cyclone shirt unit. Go to www.tailwindsystems.com for links to movies of this and other improvements.
To me, the biggest showstopper was Sankosha’s new single buck shirt unit. It can press a shirt in 10 seconds! This is a game-changer. So fast is this unit, they also had to invent a new collar-cuff unit to keep up with it. It’s hard to explain how and why this unit works and it is difficult to get hard answers from Sankosha, so I have to draw my own conclusions. What I am telling you here are my own summations, not from official sources.
At first glance, the unit is not much different than previous models. You dress the buck in the traditional way. Then, you move to the left sleeve (always left first). The way the sleeve is attached assures a tight seal. Sankosha has done away with steam injection in the sleeves and added an additional heat exchanger. Therefore, the utility consumption nets out to be equal.
When you actuate the left sleeve, the head moves over and it moves close to the buck but it stops about an inch away from the shirt. I think this does two things; there is radiant heat pre-heating the water in the fabric. This must make a difference. Second, there is less travel remaining when the buck is indexed. It might seem like a small thing but that head will close onto the shirt in less than half a second. That matters! At our plant, the head needs to travel about eight inches taking about two seconds. This is wasted time. When you actuate the right cuff, you may select a longer press cycle, but I pressed many shirts on this unit in Atlanta and never selected the long cycle. The travel to the press position is very short and the head closes in a flash. Faster than you can say “Holy Sankosha!” the cycle is done. There IS a bit of residual moisture on the pad side of the thick part of the heavier shirts. I don’t like that but shirts continue to dry within a few minutes. Also, I am not aware of the moisture retention they had in the shirts they were pressing. If you are pressing 70-80 shirts per hour, which is what they are aiming for with one operator, you will want moisture retention on the lower side.
Forenta introduced a line of revamped laundry presses packed with new features such as electric two-button actuators, a timer option for their single-handed presses (the ones with the perimeter bar) and they replaced the braided steel steam hoses with insulated Teflon flex hose. All terrific upgrades in my humble opinion.
There were enough new and exciting developments in Atlanta to have me clamoring for more. I can hardly wait for Clean 2025 in Orlando.
Of all the accomplishments I have amassed in my life – and I hazard to say I have more than my fair share – I cannot say I ever aspired to be a writer in trade journals. But through twists of fate, Fabricare has been one of several publications I have made regular contributions to for quite some time. While I will continue with my other writing assignments, my regular columns in Fabricare have come to an end. It has been an extraordinary honor and privilege to share my thoughts with you over the years. Please know I am still at your service and still a mere email away. Please feel free to reach out at any time. Tailwind.email@example.com
Don Desrosiers has been in the drycleaning and shirt laundering business since 1978. He is a workflow engineer and a management consultant who provides serves to shirt launderers and drycleaners in the United States, Mexico, and western Europe through Tailwind Systems. He is a member of the Society of Profes- sional Consultants and the 2001 recipient of DLI’s Commitment to Professionalism Award. He can be reached at 186 Narrow Avenue, Westport, MA 02790 or at his office by fax (508) 636-8839; by cell (508) 965-3163; or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. He has a website at www.tailwindsystems.com. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and not reflect those of the Institute.