High Speed Hardmounts and Ironing in your Commercial Laundry

High speed hardmounts are all the rage in the commercial laundry industry these days.  400G from a hardmount?  Who could believe such a thing was possible.  As mentioned before, high speed hardmounts are not exactly what they are made out to be.

Ironers in a Commercial Laundry Environment

Ironers are typically near to the end process in a commercial laundry, meaning they are the last step in the process before putting the linens back into service or storing them on the shelf.  Since they are the last step, the ironer typically reveals any problems in the process.  Things such as poor destaining processes, improper pH, or any other commercial laundry problem will show up in the ironing process.

Adding more problems are unpredictable extract speeds from so called high speed hardmounts.

The Problem with Variable Extract Speeds

Ironers, like the human body, crave consistency in order to achieve peak effeciency.  Many newer “high speed” hardmounts in truth extract at widely varying extract speeds.  This means that you may have goods that extract at 100G and the next load extracts at 250G.  When drying, this usually doesn’t present a problem especially if you have humidity sensing dryers as a slower extract will simply take longer to dry.  However, if you have an ironer, this will present a huge problem due to the vast difference in the water left in the goods.

The Problem in Detail

A gas heated roll ironer relies on a large burner to heat the ironing cylinder.  Typically, this burner is about 10 feet long and heats the ironing roll as evenly as possible.  A standard ironer has a temperature probe on each side of the ironing roll to make sure that the burner is working properly and that the temperature is roughly the same over the length of the roll.

Imagine the scenario presented above – the goods from one washer are extracted at 100G with a moisture retention of about 98% and the goods from the second washer are extracted at 250G with a moisture retention of about 70%.  This difference of 28% moisture content translates to a significant difference in the amount of water to be removed from the goods.  If the ironer happens to be running sheets, the goods from the 100G extract will still be quite damp when processed through the ironer, meaning another trip through the ironer and wasted labor, time, and utilities.  If the ironer is running pillowcases or napkins in lanes, a serious problem can occur.  Since there is so much more moisture to be evaporated in the 100G extracted goods, the temperature on one side of the ironer will tend to fall in comparison to the 250G extracted goods.  The reason for this is that it takes less energy to evaporate the smaller amount of water in the 250G extracted goods.  This working difference will eventually lead to a large difference in the ironing temperature from one side of the ironing roll to the other.  In order to prevent damage to itself, the ironer will alarm and stop the heating process.

The Solution

As usual, a little planning and homework will go a long way towards solving this problem.  There are two different scenarios to consider:

  1. If planning an entirely new laundry facility with ironing, specify soft mount washers with at least a 300G extract.  This will allow you to go directly from the washer to the ironer without first conditioning the goods in the dryer.  Conditioning, typically a 10 minute drying cycle, removes additional moisture from the goods and allows the ironer to run a bit faster but increases labor since the goods must be double handled (moved from the washer to the dryer then to the ironer instead of straight from the washer to the ironer).
  2. If adding an ironer to an existing laundry, make sure that the washers you own either a) do not have variable extract speed or b) can be programmed for an extract force of at least 230G.  Machines that can’t be programmed for a high extract force will cause problems as mentioned above.

Too Good to be True!

As with anything in life, there is always a trade off.  Want a super high speed hardmount?  Great, but there are catches:

  1. If the load isn’t perfectly balanced (typical in a laundry) you don’t get the super high speed.
  2. You never actually know what the extract force is, so ironing becomes very difficult and you must have a humidity sensing dryer.
  3. You still have to dig the floor and/or have a large and expensive housekeeping pad.

Although a softmount washer might seem more expensive at first glance, once you consider all the problems a “high speed” hardmount creates, the softmount is clearly the better choice especially if you are considering adding an ironer in the future.  The smart money is on softmounts!

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