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REPORTAGE — Shirt finishers, Facebook and less CO2 are the strongest points of the future

HOW IS THE LAUNDRY MARKET CHANGING/2

 

Entrepreneurs and operators fully agree on the definition of the sector. They see it as more and more dynamic and complex where suppliers, laundry owners and final users establish contacts through the use of social networks, new requests coming from family units and a greater attention to ecology (necessary to win tenders today). What results from it are shops similar to service centers where different, not  homogeneous clients show up, and where every client expresses various and rather personal requests. In order to meet them, it is necessary to not only raise the levels of automation and garments tracking systems but improve the ability to listen as well

 

Laundries designed as coffee bars. Laundries travelling on a truck, laundries rented by fashion industry to refresh their “d’antan” garments, laundries as a social
service for the less fortunate ones.
These are just some of the examples taken from this and previous Detergo magazine issues. They are useful here to highlight our current times characterized by
great changes in the textile care sector. Changes including new types of clients, new business models and new types of relations with clients. Let us not forget
about the legislative context that imposes stricter and stricter rules as far as environmental protection goes.
Stenilio Morazzini, the CEO of Montega based in Misano Adriatico that produces chemical products for laundries, says “Since 2017 – Morazzini  observes – more and more tendering procedures have required the participating laundries to present certificates on the reduced CO2 emissions. Such tendency will
soon become law”.
It is obvious that all this will directly influence the everyday market where, as Corinna Mapelli, co-owner of Trevil based in Milan area, the producer of ironing equipment, says “for some time now we have been standing on a crossroads, between two roads that are destined to get further away one from another.
Where, on the one hand, one looks at the price more than at anything else. These clients, chose shopping malls or low cost self-service laundries. From the other hand, the quality of services counts, so such orientated clients would go look for laundries able to treat their high quality, precious garments, curtains or carpets offering excellent quality treatments”. “However, we have to remember – Mapelli adds – that clients are the first to know this crossroads well. Many of them take their shirts to the most convenient and a nearby laundry.
They choose a better quality laundry once a month and take there their cocktail dress, a leather jacket or nabuck shoes. Some entrepreneurs of the sector have understood this scheme, so they offer two different types of services with different price lists. Whatever the offered service, the cross-cutting requests we receive concern more and more “intelligent” machines, able to optimize the time operators spend on decisions making. Therefore, suppliers have been busy creating more and more  automated and well performing machines in order to guarantee better efficiency without compromising the quality”.
One of the consequences of the changes in the system has been stronger permeability of its parts. The problems exposed by Mrs. Maria at the laundry she goes to, often are unpublished due to the materials chosen by clothes industry. They are communicated on the phone to machines and solvents suppliers by laundry managers who call them to forward new requests coming from clients right after Mrs. Maria left the shop. “It is a virtous circle that underlines the role of final users” starts Marco Niccolini, the Sales Director at Renzacci, a producer of laundry machines based in Città di Castello. He continues: “It is not a random case that the Academy Days organised by Renzacci as workshops for laundry operators are always full. During the events, we meet businessmen and artisans who are mostly interested in doing their best at work. Such an increased professional sensibility is extremely positive for the market. The market trends are quite consolidated today, e.g. the use of natural solvents able to treat about 80% of usual garments, which undoubtedly is a great advantage to our more and more vulnerable and precious environment”.
Entering current affairs of the laundry market, some other interesting discoveries concern the final users again, who turn out to be the main topic of this reportage. “They are thousands of them, millions even, but everyone is different from one another” explains Mirco Mongillo, the Sales Director at Firbimatic, a producer of laundry machines based in Bologna area. He says: “Today, there are no homogenous clients at a laundry anymore. They used to come in
with their bag of weekly shirts and pants to wash and iron. Today, a client comes and asks to have their table cloth and kitchen cloths washed. Somebody else asks to have a sheepskin coat washed and tailored as it has lost a couple of buttons, too. Shops start becoming more and more similar to service centers that are fully available to clients after the crisis. Yet, they are running away from the idea of the disposable and aim at durability and resistance of garments”.
“Who works at a laundry today, should always have their computers set on Facebook” adds Alessandro Davi, the Managing Director at Davis based in Bolzano,  a distributor of German washing machines, Böwe in Italy. He explains: “The aim should be twofold: promoting the company in a context that tends to award those who make part of social networks and, at the same time, monitoring the market and checking users’ needs and knowledge. It is a well established fact that alternative chemical products are widespread and used. Among them, some constitute a milestone in the production, e.g. hydrocarbon solvents with their undeniable degreasing power that has sharply increased even further recently. This truth does not only concern the experts of the field but final users as well”.
Market looking like a constantly open interface system. Such a concept has been underlined by Pony’s recent press release and the President Paolo Fumagalli, a producer of ironing equipment in Milan area. “Pony’s strategy has always included a direct contact with clients – it reads – in order to collect suggestions and expectations, and to make our exhibitive room available for demonstrations. During our “Open Days” the participants undergo training and have the possibility to test the products while we guide them on the practical use of the machines. Surely, a modern laundry of today, aims at reducing the noise, managing hot air and steam dispersion, reducing the energy consumption and improving the ergonomics for a better comfort of operators”.
Consequently, “Laundries of the future are ecologic, sustainable, mobile and automated”, as we read in the press release by Rotondi Group, a producer of ironing machines and washing machines in Settimo Milanese. It further reads: “The scenario consists of offering high quality garments treatment without the use of specialized staff anymore. What also seems significant is the use of APPs that have been very successful at laundries. It is possible to receive a very good laundry service through a simple smartphone, e.g. booking a machine at a coin op or managing orders at a highly digitalized dry-cleaner’s”.
We have also discussed how automation is applied to more and more laundry sectors with Julien Buros, Product Manager at Datamars, a Swiss producer of tracing systems for garments. “The big news of  the last years consists of chips application to linen and not only to workwear – Buros explains. – It is due to more and more powerful transponders able to read thousands of chips of garments within few seconds.
However, the traceability starts to be an added value also in case of private garments washing and not only those from nursery homes. There has been an increase
in the number of artisan dry-cleaning laundries that have developed the modern approach by providing themselves with identification systems which allows to
increase efficient relations with clients”.
A precious point of view on laundry businesses comes from A13, a producer of accessories based in Milan.  The President, Giuseppe Conti says: “Artisan laundries that used PERC machines for years have now been orientated towards better performing machines that pollute less. Undoubtedly, this is the result of the necessity to increase energy saving combined with the more widespread awareness of environmental issues”. Conti further explains: “New washing methodologies have definitely changed ironing, too. Today, it is necessary to be provided  with ironing machines able to bring garments back to their original shape. That is why, we witness a dramatic increase in the use of tensioning ironing machines”.

“Yet, the market sees how the customs and habits of clients are changing – Conti concludes. – What used to be washed and  ironed at home, is now taken to a laundry. Shirts are the best example of it. An upgraded modern laundry definitely needs to be equipped with a shirt-finisher”. •

(1 – to be continued in the next Detergo issue)

by Stefano Ferrio

Detergo Magazine – December 2017

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