CHICAGO — Even though the self-service laundry is trending toward offering larger wash and dry capacities in single-pocket machines, stack equipment has been in use for decades and still figures prominently in many stores across the country.
This month, American Coin-Op invited several representatives from vended laundry equipment manufacturers to answer some questions about this specific equipment category and its position within the overall equipment mix.
Part 1 dealt with stack equipment’s immediate benefits and store design possibilities. Part 2 looked at capacity and control options; marketing or promotional opportunities; and the impact of the “large capacity” trend. Today’s conclusion addresses cleaning and maintenance differences, along with any closing comments from manufacturer reps.
CLEANING, MAINTENANCE DIFFERENCES
Q: Are there any differences in the cleaning and maintenance of stack machines versus a single-pocket machine, particularly among dryers?
Kevin Hietpas, director of sales, Dexter Laundry: Equipment maintenance is essentially the same as non-stack models. The biggest difference that owners will need to be aware of is that lint filters will need to be cleaned more regularly on stack models. The space previously available for greater lint capacity is now devoted to another revenue-producing dryer pocket. Most owners agree that’s a good trade-off that makes for a more profitable business.
Tod Sorensen, regional sales manager, Girbau North America, parent company of Continental Girbau: Most stack dryers are “axial airflow” — heat and airflow from the rear vented to the front — and often have front roller wheels to support the cylinder. There is a cylinder belt driving rotation. Single-pocket dryers use “radial airflow” — heat and air from top to bottom rather than a pulley and belt with bearings on a tub shaft, similar to a washer.
The difference between these two designs requires that lint be cleaned in different areas of the machine and the rollers become the replaceable wear component instead of the main bearings on the shaft.
Stack dryers allow for greater drying capacity per square foot in the laundry, but they do require more frequent servicing and lint-drawer cleaning due to the smaller size of the lint screen. Additionally, due to airflow, design and gas consumption, stack dryers tend to build up more lint around the outer shell of the cabinet, requiring the front panels to be removed and vacuumed out.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share about stack laundry equipment and its place in the vended laundry industry?
Kathryn Rowen, general manager, North American Laundromat, Alliance Laundry Systems (including Huebsch and Speed Queen): Our company is excited about the potential of our multi-load stack washer-extractor/tumble dryers. Their ability to produce strong return on investment helps owners in locations that previously were too short on square footage to be viable Laundromats. In addition, their robust commercial construction is better suited for the heavy use of busy Laundromat environments than more homestyle small-chassis models.
Sorensen: Be careful with new stores and renovations to pay close attention to customer flow through the stations of wash; transfer and loading of dry; and folding. Stack dryers allow for adequate capacity and dryer pocket-to-washer ratios, so don’t come up short and logjam your store in the dryers during busy weekend hours.
Beware of stack washer/dryers in Laundromats for three basic reasons:
- Customer flow is critical. Mixing one with the other often limits capacity because vended customers are occupying the space. Customers can be territorial in nature. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, customers don’t want others near them nor should store owners want to promote that.
- Mixing water and drain (washer), venting (dryer lint) and unconditioned combustion air (dryers) for stack washers and dryers is challenging. The wrong conditions (cold, humidity, condensation) could spell more maintenance and offer the potential for water line breaks, inefficiency and/or lint obstruction in venting, apart from the expense to install.
- Serviceability of anything stacked can increase the need for service accessibility behind such units, which would occupy valuable laundry space that should be reserved for customers.
Hietpas: Innovation is a sign of a healthy industry. Since our first SWD [stack washer-dryer] model, the 30-pound capacity, was introduced almost 20 years ago, our lineup of SWDs has expanded to 20-, 30- and 50-pound models. While every innovation might not be an exact fit for every laundry, or for every owner, innovation keeps our industry moving forward, and each innovation leads to the next innovation.
Miss earlier parts of this story? You can read them here: Part 1 – Part 2