Guild of Cleaners and Launderers Conference Sunday 5th of March 2017 held in Maidenhead, UK
Conference Theme “Innovations in Our Industry”
Jointly held with the Guild Conference was an Exhibition supported by the elite of the industry suppliers and Maidenhead proved to be an excellent location with its close links to Motorways, Rail Station, and proximity to Heathrow Airport. The adjoining Exhibition Hall was packed with conference delegates taking the opportunity to visit stands and discuss ideas as well as opportunities to develop their business and expertise.
The conference commenced at 10.00 am with a tight schedule to fit in no less than ten speakers covering a variety of subjects and many showed creative links to other following papers throughout the day. Dr Manfred Seiter, from Kruessler Chemicals Germany, was the first speaker who set the scene with a paper named “Textile care-think innovatively” and he advised that “Creativity has two different reasons of motivation. Either we solve problems from the past or we take opportunities, which lie in the future and he explained that for the majority of people this ratio is 70 : 30 between the two. He explained that dry cleaning was a true innovation because it solved the problem, that delicate garments, before its creation, could not be washed therefore this solved the problem and went on to say that K4 from his company was also an innovation, which was a patented system, and solved some of the problems existing with the then solvents.
Manfred explained that dry cleaning is itself a sustainable technology, because Drycleaning machines work in closed circuits, solvent is permanently recycled and produces no waste water. Soil removed is concentrated in the residue, which is collected, by law, by only certified carriers, therefore problematic soil from workwear, oil and heavy metals cannot enter waste water streams by this system. However, cooling water (used for drying and distillation) for a 20 kg batch is in the range of 240 – 300 litres, and a drycleaning machine may need more (cooling) water, than a washing machine uses for washing . He went on to say that Halogenated solvents are seen as harmful for the environment, ground water, health and safety, and solvent emissions in general are strictly limited. In use today are chlorinated solvents, hydrocarbons, and siloxane D5. He followed this up with explaining that an ideal solvent should not be a dangerous liquid, not toxic, not classified, a good cleaner for textiles, indifferent to prints, glues, dyestuffs, textile fibres, biodegradable, not persistent, not bioaccumulative, not dangerous to the environment , have good customer acceptance, should be sustainable, and ideally renewable from a natural source.
He then explained that K4 was Dibutoxymethane and this fulfils many criteria of an ideal drycleaning solvent. Biodegradable, halogen-free , not classified,not hazardous, perfect for cleaning, but with no accepted care symbol like the P in a circle, however long term goal was the integration into the international system of textile care symbols for K4.
He then followed this up by advising on the development of the Professional Wet Cleaning concept by his company in which case total water consumption in a LANADOL SENSITIVE process is only 6 litres of water per kg of textile. Stating that Wetcleaning can be the most environmental friendly textile cleaning process, giving bright colours, fresh and clean garments, with little energy demand. He went on to say about Wetcleaning that it could be seen not just for the cleaning of delicate, non washable garments, but it could also open new market segments with the flexibility to expand textile services and offer new, at present unexplored, opportunities. He finalised his paper by stating professional textile care has not lost it‘s importance, because service orientation in the society is in favour of our service, but more importantly skills, aswell as excellent service in new market segments have the potential to make textile care great again!
The conference second speaker was Brendan Duffy from Acorns of Lancashire, who owns and runs a Professional Wet Cleaning business with his wife Cheryl. He was invited to address the conference because of their ability to attract new business by the use of social media and explained that his paper was about Effective and Innovative Media Marketing, but said that first sales and marketing questions to ask yourself are, where, how, when and who is your audience?
He followed this up with explaining how they had exploited their business expansion using, Social Media, Local Media, Sponsorships, and Awards. He explained that the power of social media could be seen in the recent following of a news item about the loss of a wedding dress. This was actually the most read news item, even more than that of American President Trump and was, he explained, about a 150 year old wedding dress lost by an Edinburgh dry cleaner. However, he went on, you can also advertise, on social media, and target by, location (Radius), age ranges, gender, language spoken, demographics (Married), interests (Shopping / Clothing), behaviours (Digital Devices / number of credit cards), and also by placement selection (Times), but you can also set by budgets and by day or stated maximum amount.
Brendan then revealed the power of social media by giving a recent example from his own business which was an advert campaign covering a 3 week period between August and September 20 16, and this involved a Video focused on Wedding Dresses, which reached 18,600 individuals, resulting in post engagements of 4,651 clicks. The Advert Cost £49, and gained twenty wedding dresses being received and also six wedding boxes sold, but also increased their number of ‘Likes’ and 5 Star reviews.
The third speaker of the day was Phillip Kalli, from Ideal Manufacturing, who titled his paper “Creativity, Innovation and Inspiration” and went on to explain the origins of the family business started by his father Dr Mike Kalli giving insights into the team that care for the company on a day to day basis. With the use of cartoons he explained the advantages of supplies from his company and the personal goals they had set themselves giving examples of achievements. He also explained some of the ethics which helped them to reach their goals and how you can be nice to people but still work hard, and you could be more eco friendly, which also helped launderers in preserving textile life. He took the audience on a journey of how his company had turned their factory into a showroom, but had also declared a war on waste; how it is possible to improve everything all of the time but at the same time gain improvements in efficiency. He further explained how these changes involved product package design, how customers had influenced the introduction of new products by them listening to their needs and requirements. How all of this had created a new culture, a passion for the customer, with no minimum customer order and a love of the customer, but at the same time explaining their marketing advantage as being a UK producer, supplying directly, and harnessing 40 years of business experience and expertise. He then graphically showed how they had changed their product advice labels to make them more reader friendly, and now also supplied customer technical advice, care label posters, and how they have a range of posters promoting their customer’s business, for example with Duvet, shirt service and service wash posters, available for use. Phillip then went on to explain how they had built their brand in recent years and shared with the conference delegates ideas on how they could learn from their experience, to design the detail, how not to be afraid to be different, how to exploit the use of social media and when to do it. He also explained how they had become more eco friendly by putting less on some of their product containers, how by careful selection and management they had found other ways of doing things.
After a break Tabish Aiman, from Tex ID, was addressing the problem of marking and tracking garments and linen within our business and commenced by looking at Retail Tagging Technology over the last 60 years. Starting with Ticket Books with one time use tags, following this with pre-printed one time use Paper Tags, then print on demand one time use POS Till, and then permanent print on demand Dot Matrix Labels. He said the industry then moved on to print on demand washable paper “One time use Tags”, one time use and permanent “Thermal Transfer Labels”, and finally HF/UHF RFID Permanent Transponder. However, looking forward he said that under development was Reusable RIFD Transponders. Tabish then gave a chart comparison to demonstrate the advantages and disadvantages of some marking products:
He then went on to say that for RFID there are in fact three different systems – LF, HF and UHF, explaining that HF (High Frequency) is designed for single and small bundle scanning, UHF (Ultra High Frequency) designed for bulk scanning, for example commercial laundries. Commenting on Transponders (Chips) he said these can be applied by Heat Seal or Sewn In, depending on the preference, but Scanning Equipment is customised for each process and all use Radio Waves taking advantage of the use of a pre-assigned alpha numeric character set. Following this explanation he said that this technology was a follow on from bar coding which used Pre-Printed Heat Seal Barcode Label (HSL), or a Print on Demand HSL using Label Software, or a Print on demand Temporary Barcode Tag using ePOS/LMS, or even a Print on Demand using ePOS/LMS. Following this he said that these were just numbers and that just as a body can’t function without a brain, it needed Databases, ePOS and LMS, in order to function. He went on to say Custom Databases are not prevalent in our industry and that ePOS digitises the Customer Experience, LMS (Laundry Management Software) digitises Production Management, and the latest offerings combine ePOS and LMS, offering very sophisticated Marketing, Routing, Assembly, and Record Keeping tools.
This paper was quickly followed by Mark Reynolds FGCL, from SPOT systems Europe, whose presentation was closely linked to the previous because it used the technology to make the information of marketing and productive value to the business using ItemTrac ID to control and automate production and explained that this could be “Hosted” or an “Internet Cloud Based” installation. He then gave four actual examples to prove his point from small high street businesses to Jeeves of Belgravia. He went on to explain the cloud based system utilizes remote server clusters, and each cluster supports 1,700 individual SPOT workstations, through a Multi-million pound investment (e.g. each Cisco UCS stack and tray of SSD disks for Netapp SAN costs £240,000), with over 13,000 users in total, therefore user charge works out at only £49 per month. He went on to explain about the backup computer farm with features like automatic load balancing and how the management team would know before you, the customer, in the event of any service interruption, and that back up battery and generator guarantees continuity of service for up to 2 weeks following a power failure. Commenting on the benefits of a cloud based system Mark said that you can get up to 600 standard reports to your Smart Phone and these were easily customisable, and that selected data can be gathered, converted to pdf format and automatically e-mailed to a managers’ Smartphone’ on a specified schedule. Another advantage of the cloud based system he explained is the ease of link to a customer website, or even other database and it had benefits with the addition of a “My Dry Cleaner” App which includes, order status notifier, historic invoice retrieval, current account status, book van collection/delivery, Instant promotions, nearest store locator , plus customisable graphics.
It also had benefits in the production area offering ease of customer order assembly, allowing only discharge of complete order before bagging, and a user automatically prints copy invoice or bag label and he reported on a SPOT system user who saved one complete operative in the first year. They also incorporated a system where customers can pick up or drop off work 24/7, dispense a poly bag and print themselves a receipt, and when the order is detailed the following morning, the SPOT system sends an automated email with full copy invoice, and a further automated notification is sent by email/SMS when garments are ready for collection. Another cleaner has automated around Spot to measure “pieces per day” in thousands, with fiercely aggressive pricing made possible by high speed processing utilising otherwise dead roof space, which frees up valuable production floor area. Shop and route work can be called down by route number in reverse stop order, automated assembly, and automated bagging, plus storage for the 24/7 kiosk service is at high level for call-off. Mark finalised by saying “Batch Marking and Assisted Assembly” using ItemTrac barcodes improves speed and accuracy therefore reduces cost.
After the lunch time break Jack de Montaignac, Chief Operating Officer from Laundrapp, gave an insight into the success of an App for our business with now forty vans in the London area, but with no actual processing of their own, and all this has been done in just two years. Jack has actual experience of our business having previously owned a wedding dress cleaning service, he stated that he also owned Moss Bros at one stage. The essence of Laundrapp is to capture the “instant on demand market”, following the success of Uber and Just Eat, and is about convenience and bringing this to the laundry and dry cleaning business. Time is a precious commodity for people, especially in cities, and it is all about satisfying the demand for the service and ensuring that it is easy as well as convenient for the customer. He explained that none of the founders of the business had any industry experience and that he had been brought in at a later stage to cover that gap, but it was from a new perspective that the founders looked at what we had to offer, and what innovations they could see to improve the appeal. The founders held a belief that the industry was archaic in its outlook and from the new perspective wanted to bring in new ideas, open new markets, and digitise the business. Most people in this country have a washing machine but they are now the target market for Laundrapp and the business is growing, giving customers their time back. He stated that the company had a vision to be the biggest on demand laundry and dry cleaning business in the world, by building the best service platform and satisfying their customers. The order of demand from a customer is identified as “Convenient, Quality, and Price”, in that order, and stressed that they needed to supply a good quality service because that is what customers want but their target market is not the expectant discount trade because they are not the regular users of dry cleaning, and they are trying to change customer behaviour by taking on the laundry service and getting them to throw out their washing machines. He further explained that there are no longer as many suits being worn as in previous years but there are other markets that they could exploit to bring in additional revenue and to bring in a younger audience who so far have not been our traditional customer. He challenged the conference to think about the 25 to 35 year old age group who at present are not our traditional best customer, but are always active on their I pads and smart phones interacting with each other, and these are our customers of tomorrow. These are the so called millennial group and it is important to get to this group because they are our customers of tomorrow but we needed to serve the forty year plus group who are our customers of today he said.
The business model chosen, by Laundrapp is that of Ocado the home delivery network because it works, is a quality offering, and is accepted by the customer. A trusted brand offering a fantastic service and readily invited into the household, and a model that could be easily monitored. Something, he explained, is what they do on a continuing, and regular, basis. Monitoring how many items of each category, how many times were they on time with deliveries, and how close these deliveries came to being within 3% of maximum achievement. Proving that customer service is really key to the business. They built an App which they are continually updating to make it customer friendly, as well as interesting, pushing the laundry side continuously because they can see that here there is so much more that they do on that side of the business, but the App is only about 10% of the business they are building. Behind the concept is the brain of the organisation that takes the payment, then arranges the delivery, but also they have built a driver App for their delivery drivers, to enable them to maximise their effort during a day with, especially in London, huge transport movement problems. They want them to collect and deliver as much as they can to cover the fixed costs of a fleet of vans. All the driver can see on his App is his/her next call, they need to get to that customer by that time to pick up/ or drop off, and only at that point will the brain tell them who and where the next customer is.
Currently the web is where they gain 20% of their new orders, but they found this after a long period of drilling down into what works and what doesn’t, and constantly reviewing what they were doing. However, business has proved to come in via many forms of media and changes throughout the working day, starting with orders over the smart phone from people on their way to work to the web during the day when people were at their computers and laptops. Leaflet market has a bad reputation, he remarked, but it has a long tail and can be beneficial over a longer period of time. At the current time they have cleaned over one and half million items in London and the business is still growing, although they have slowed down the business model, he stated, because they wanted to pass on to new partners enough business to justify the collection and delivery arrangements. To become a partner he explained you must have the capacity for additional business, they would wish to visit your business and check your quality and the financial arrangement is that new partners advise what they require to offer the service and Laundrapp apply their own pricing model to the customer. Currently they have two offerings, one where Laundrapp are doing the collection and delivery, for example in London, but other regions it is the partner, the cleaner, who is expected to carry out this function. He conclude by saying the business model has been franchised to New Zealand and now Australia, but here in the UK they have no plans to actually do their own processing because their expertise was in the digital technology.
Following this was Innovation in solvent cleaning, a joint presentation from Barry Eaton (Dow Safechem Europe, manufacturers of the solvent) and Michael Mc Laughlan from Kingdom Machinery supplier agents for ILSA dry cleaning machines, and this was covering the relatively new solvent Sensene. This was explained to be a new departure from the traditional range of solvents and was not a hydrocarbon with something added but a blend of two alcohols, described by Barry as modified alcohols, and SENSENE can be used in regular multi-solvent or hydrocarbon machines, often referred to as machines complying with class A III solvents, although he warned that any would be user should consult their machine manufacturer to check if the machine type has been certified for this solvent before use. This solvent has a very high sovency power (160Kb) and reliably removes a variety of stains on different fabrics, he stated, and it is designed to prevent discolouring and keeps the bright colours of cleaned textiles. He said the modified alcohol formulation is inherently biodegradable, with low toxicity, and was an environmentally responsible way of dry cleaning. He went on to say that it was gentle to fabrics causing relatively low wrinkling, which makes finishing easier, the processed textiles dry faster, and cycle times can be shorter, therefore the cleaning needs less energy, has good distillation behaviour, saves man hours because pre-spotting can be reduced. He advised that Sensene leaves nothing but a pleasant clean smell on the garments, and the stable formulation keeps even the cleaning machine clean by minimising bacteria accumulation and the development of an unpleasant smell experienced by hydrocarbon and green earth users. Another benefit he explained was that it had a higher flash point than other new solvents and tests have shown SENSENE can comply with the requirements of both P in a circle and F in a circle garment care labels, even those with the symbol underlined, for delicate items with restrictions on temperature, mechanical action, and time, during process.
All of the major machine manufacturers had approved their machines for the use of Sensene since it was launched at the Frankfurt Exhibition last June 2016, and it was now in use in most of the countries throughout the world. Michael McLaughlin followed on giving a machine supplier, and engineer, perspective on the solvent and stated that Dowclene 1601 was the predecessor to SENSENE and was trialled at the request of Marco Boccola, from ILSA, because of a problem with cleaning surgical textile garments, and the removal of substances by cleaning specialists, and this resulted in further field trials and solvent comparison reports. In July 2015 the first High Street Shop running on Sensene was commissioned, and now between Turkey, Russia and Italy there are 102 installations alone. On the eve of the Guild Conference in September, 2016, the first machine in Britain was converted to Sensene and was reported on the conference day within a presentation. There are now six installations in the UK, Michael reported, and they have found that they can perform delicate cleaning , but the solvent achieves, high solvency power , garments feel good to touch, with neutral smell, and there are confirmed reports of easier garment pressing with no need for tensioning finishing equipment.
The next speaker was Jan Querangaesser, from Buffa, who explained that he was a certified cleaning specialist for cleaning and hygiene management, as well as a certified master dry cleaner. He advised conference delegates that his company had brought a new range of chemicals to support the new solvent Sensene, fromSECASENE® Pre, for use as the pre-brushing agent, which he said was very effective in application and easy to flush out and it could help to remove stubborn stains, but for special stains he advised the use of Detaprofi product range. SECASENE® Clean he sated was a highly concentrated soap with excellent cleaning performance and antistatic properties with a pleasant and soft handle. SECASENE® Lotus, he explained, was a special fabric protector for use in Sensene and it had excellent water, oil and dirt repellent properties. He followed this by describing a typical cleaning process using the new solvent and then surprised the audience by saying it was also an excellent solvent for cleaning fur and leather garments and continued by giving a one bath process suitable for these more expensive items usually requiring specialist attention.
Then followed Roger Cawood posing the question “How Good is Your Stain Removal“ and remarked that this element of our business is vital to maintaining good quality standards. He then asked a series of questions begining – How do you measure/assess your standard of Stain Removal, then have you ever received complaints that are about competitor’s work, if so, what is your policy, and why do you think the item was returned to you, is it because the customer thinks you are a better cleaner, or are they too embarrassed to make a complaint to the other cleaner, and finally, if accepted, do you charge the customer for putting the item right? This stimulated a discussion between the audience and Roger on attitudes of customers and other cleaners. Having now engaged them he posed the next question, “what is the first step in removing a stain?”, Answering it himself by stating “You have to find it or see it” and explained that many stains could not be seen easily and some only showed up following cleaning. He then explained that in his career he had been a visiting quality inspector and found that most stains on polyrobed items can be easily removed, but had been missed by the process staff. He advised that the best way was to have a detailed systematic inspection at the counter when the item is received, then again before cleaning, then again after removal from the machine, but before pressing, then before polyrobing , and this is the key leading to improving your standard of stain removal. He advised that most of the missed stains are on the cuffs, elbows and under the arms with perspiration for jackets/dresses/tops, and for trousers it was around the knee area and the turnups.
He went on to say stain removal many cleaners admitted was their weakest ability but explained the first step to improvement was to invest in decent equipment, which needs to be kept clean and have effective lighting in the area. A good spotting table will have, steam, vacuum, compressed air, a high pressure water spray, plus a support tray underneath to keep items off the floor. As to spotting equipment an d chemicals you should have, he said, a range of post spotting kit chemicals, a range of pure chemical reagents, a rust remover and a bleach, a bone or plastic spatula, a set of clean spotting brushes, a good supply of spotting pipettes, and plenty of clean absorbent fabric. Roger concluded that cleaners should not resort to putting labels on items regretting that they were unable to remove a stain.
|Available Locally||List of suggested||Pure chemicals|
|Yes||Ammonia 5%||No||Amyl Acetate|
|Yes||Acetic acid 10%||Yes||Methylated Spirit|
|Yes||Hydrogen Peroxide 9%|