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.
ALLIANCE LAUNDRY SYSTEMS
At Alliance Laundry Systems, major goals include offering controls that give store owners greater management and promotional capabilities, and offering many water- and energy-saving features, says Jeff Brothers, vice president of sales for Alliance Laundry Systems (Speed Queen, Huebsch, IPSO, Cissell and UniMac).
“The Quantum and Galaxy control lines recently introduced for Speed Queen and Huebsch, respectively, do just that,” Brothers says. “They give owners the management and promotional features needed to expand their business and overall profit per square foot.”
Developmental projects have focused on reducing costs, such as designing products that keep water and utility usage low. “We also are heavily invested in manufacturing products that help reduce installation costs, as well as [reduce] repair and maintenance expenses.”
Front loader, larger-capacity washer-extractor, and stack tumbler dryer usage is on the rise. “As owners increasingly seek to maximize turns per day, they are also turning to high G-force washer-extractors in the 140 G-force range to accomplish this goal. Higher extract speeds reduce drying time significantly and, as a result, raise customer satisfaction by getting them out the door faster.”
In the past, owners have been inclined to run equipment longer, but today’s models, with great leaps in efficiency and better operating features, have them reconsidering, he says. “The return on investment on equipment upgrades has made retooling laundries more attractive. When that’s combined with tax-depreciation options, there’s an incentive to upgrade equipment sooner.”
[NP][/NP]Today’s equipment is vastly more efficient than that of a few years ago, he says. However, he also believes that the industry is reaching a level of efficiency that will be difficult to improve on without sacrificing cleaning results. On an efficiency scale of 1-10, Brothers ranks washer-extractors between 7.5 and 8, and dryers at 8.5 or 9.
Alliance’s equipment challenge is to deliver desired features and quality to laundry owners at an acceptable price point. “Commodity prices continue to rise, as do most other costs in the manufacturing process, including labor.” Manufacturers will need to carefully balance these costs as well as new-product development costs, he adds.
“Another challenge could be meeting standards if the U.S. Department of Energy decides to expand water and energy-efficiency benchmarks to large-capacity equipment.”
Expect to see more, and larger, front loaders, he opines. “Technology will expand within our industry as store owners see networking as more of a necessity to simplify store operations, especially for multistore owners. Diagnostic capabilities of networking systems also help lower costs associated with service calls.
“I believe that within five years, contactless credit card payment systems will become widely accepted by vended laundry owners.”
AMERICAN DRYER CORP.
“The ES3535 is the latest addition to the American Dryer Corp. (ADC) line of drying tumblers,” says Tony Regan, ADC senior vice president of sales and marketing. “It features a 100% axial airflow design that provides dramatic utility savings. As a true 35-pound tumbler, it boasts a basket capacity that is 17% larger than the previous 30-pound model.”
[NP][/NP]ADC is focusing on energy efficiency with a complete line of tumblers featuring the 100% axial airflow design. “The design saves money, yet does not sacrifice performance. It also promotes the global green movement,” Regan adds.
ADC’s goal has been to develop machines to maximize efficiency, he says. “Tests show we can achieve up to 25% savings without sacrificing performance.”
Another company challenge is to deal with fluctuating raw-material costs, specifically steel prices.
Regan sees more sophisticated owners taking advantage of modern technology to run more cost-effectively. Owners are also taking better care of their equipment. “Equipment is designed to last, but maintenance is critical to achieve this.”
He believes owners will continue to focus on the customer and provide a good, convenient experience. “We are also seeing a continuing trend toward larger-capacity machines.”
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