While a variety of things helps make a self-service laundry successful, there’s no doubt that the equipment plays a vital role.What are some of the newest equipment offerings? Can equipment become even more efficient? What lies ahead? We posed these questions, and others, to representatives from some of the industry’s major manufacturers.MILNOR LAUNDRY SYSTEMS“In the last year, we’ve added two new models to our MCR line of cabinet washers to bring better variety to our customers,” says Gary Gauthier, national sales manager, vended laundries, Milnor Laundry Systems. “Additionally, we’ve increased the extract rate of our industrial 80-pound washer to 150 G, and are planning to implement higher extracts throughout our Classic-style model line.”Milnor’s primary focus for the future is on quality-minded efficiency; specifically, producing faster washers using fewer utilities, while still delivering excellent results.“I think that most of the more modern equipment on the marketplace is reaching the upper end of the efficiency scale. However, further large-scale efficiencies are only likely to be gained via utilities reductions, such as dramatically reduced water usage and lower heat levels with longer dry times. There’s a fine line that vended laundry customers won’t let any of us cross with regard to their expectations.”[NP][/NP]Looking ahead, external devices such as water-reuse and heat-reclamation systems may come into play, and will be judged on their returns to the business, he predicts.More educated laundry owners are also pushing manufacturers in a certain direction, he adds. “[These owners] still base many of their equipment choices upon their customers’ preferences.” In addition, he is seeing more store owners investing in or examining alternatives to coin-based operations.“We envision that self-service laundries in the next 10 years will continue to become stronger retail environments as they change operations to meet evolving customer expectations.”WASCOMAT/ELECTROLUXNeal Milch, CEO, Bermil Industries Corp., and Dan Goldman, national sales manager, Bermil Industries Corp., submitted the following response:Operators have several choices when it comes to new Wascomat and Electrolux equipment.[NP][/NP]Wascomat offers 100-G Compass Control washers with new, innovative features and programmability, designed to lower utility costs and produce higher profits. A 45-pound stack dryer designed for ease of installation is also available.Electrolux is offering 200-G Compass Control washers, available in 120- or 220-volt, single phase, with a new text-messaging option. All sizes are designed to save water and energy, and the 20- and 25-pound washers are ENERGY STAR-rated.Electrolux also has ultra-high-spin 350-G, soft-mount coin washers that can be installed on upper floors (even wooden floors) and above basements. The 18- and 25-pound models are ENERGY STAR-rated.Operators can earn a higher vend price per square foot with Electrolux’s new 45-pound reversing stack.There is a continued emphasis on innovation, and an effort to remain on the cutting edge of technology and product development. Future developmental projects include:
- A combination washer/dryer (all-in-one unit)
- Dryers with advanced automated controls to lower energy consumption without affecting performance
- A vacuum-based system to remove water without heat.
There has been an unequivocal shift to larger washers and dryers, along with the demise of top loaders. Owners are replacing energy-wasting products, especially old dryers that use excessive Btu. These owners will invest in new technology to save money.[NP][/NP]The industry is reaching limits on customer acceptance of low water levels in washers. From an efficiency standpoint, water levels can be lower than typically used, but the obstacle is customer acceptance, and the belief that bubbles clean clothes. Customers still want to use lots of soap and water, even though it’s not beneficial.Achieving a proper balance between software features, programming simplicity and customer comprehension on how to actually use a machine are production challenges. Sophistication should be transparent to the user, but deeply beneficial to an owner.In the next decade, operators can expect to see:
- Increased usage of soft-mount, ultra-high-speed extraction washers, which keep installation costs down.
- The general trend toward larger-capacity equipment continuing.
- Average store size increasing moderately and making the economics of new-store projects even more compelling.
- Increased reliance on water recycling (for example, the final rinse will be saved and used for the next customer’s first fill — prewash).
- Attractive product solutions (beyond washers and dryers) for garment processing becoming feasible.
Come back next week for Part 2 of this story!