Smart laundry equipment to meet today’s demands
A typical commercial on premise laundry is a system of machines, including washers, dryers, ironers, and folders working together with water heaters, boilers, water softeners, chemical dispensing systems and more to provide a large quantity of laundered goods in a reasonable amount of time using the minimum amounts of energy, labor, and time. In a large part, the interaction between these different systems determines determines how efficiently this process can happen.
First, a bit of history: In the not too distant past, all laundry equipment was “dumb.” There was little or no ability to program laundry machines for different types of fabric, no ability to program different length formulas for differing stain levels, no way to change wash actions to ensure that delicate fabrics are not damaged, and generally very little control over what happened inside the washing cylinder after the start button was pressed. Likewise, dryers had a limited selection of heat levels and a simple timer that ran until the time expired, with no way to determine the moisture remaining in the goods. Automated folding was simply out of the question without electronics on board. Of course, microprocessors and computer controls were extremely costly and reserved for only the most critical use – only things like rocket ships and other mission critical devices could justify the price.
Today, things are quite different. Microprocessor controls are on everything from watches and telephones to automobiles and more. They have, over time, become ubiquitous due to advancing technology and significantly lower prices due to tremendous volume production. It is almost completely unheard of for a washing machine to have anything but a microprocessor control in a commercial environment due to the efficiency gains and flexibility that this type of control provides. An advanced modern washing machine equipped with a microprocessor and AC inverter drive (which replaces multiple motors and complicated clutch arrangement and deserves an entire presentation of its own) should allow the owner complete control over the wash process, including:
1. Completely adjustable water levels to minimize water consumption for a particular wash load.
2. Completely adjustable wash speeds and timing to handle the tremendous variety of fabrics available today without damage
3. Completely adjustable extract speeds so that the moisture content can be minimized in the case of a typical laundry, or set at an arbitrary lower value for delicate goods or special processes.
4. The ability to program many different wash programs so that a single washer can handle many different types of laundry processing.
5. The ability to precisely deliver laundry chemicals.
6. The ability to precisely control the temperature in the wash cylinder, either by combining the incoming hot and cold water to arrive at a set temperature, or by controlling an external auxiliary heating system like direct steam injection or electric heating elements.
Controlling all aspects of the washing program in the described manner yields tremendous flexibility and maximum use of limited resources within the laundry environment.
Similarly, dryers have evolved to include microprocessor controls enabling some of the same advances described above. The most recent advance that allows a tremendous decrease in wasted time and energy is the ability of the dryer to automatically sense when the goods in the machine are dry. Before the advent of this technology, an educated guess was required as to the time needed, and more often than not, led to over-drying, which wasted time, energy, and damaged goods. The ability to sense the exact moisture in the goods allows a tremendous
amount of previously unavailable control to the laundry, saving damaged goods, wasted energy, and wasted time. The most accurate of these systems directly measure the exhaust air stream for residual moisture, and stop the machine when the desired dryness is reached. Less sophisticated models rely on electrical conductivity which vary significantly in accuracy and provide unreliable results. When combined with a modern high speed extract washer-extractor, such a dryer allows maximum efficiency in the wash and dry process, minimizing or eliminating wasted fuel, damaged goods, and inefficient use of labor.