Steam. When one thinks of steam, the memory automatically goes back to the late 18th-century Industrial Revolution. From history to the production reality of nowadays. Various sectors exploit the power of steam for disinfection and processing of products and semi-finished products: steam is an energy carrier with an exceptional performance, it requires little energy to be produced, and it is highly versatile. The textile sector, laundry laboratories, and industrial laundries make extensive use of steam, especially for removing the stains, moulds, bad odours, in the washing, colouring, finishing, and ironing phases of garments and fabrics. Steam is extensively used in laundries and ironing facilities. Steam is essential in laundries for connecting the machinery that are functioning using steam as power: dry-cleaning or washing machines, steam tumble dryers, ironing tables for ironing facilities, and much more. Which are the potentialities of your products? Which are the special features and technical characteristics?

We open this in-depth discussion by meeting Corinna Mapelli, Co-owner of Trevil, a company with forty years of experience in producing industrial steam generators. “Our Geyser steam generators can be used for any system that requires steam for functioning: for the food, wellness and cleaning sector, and, of course, in the laundry. Geyser generators are standing out for their reliability and attention to safety systems and energy savings. In addition, they do not require a licensed operator. The standard models are available in different sizes, ranging from 12 to 150 kW, fractionated by 6 or 7.5kW with single ignition to ensure great modularity, avoid consumption peaks, and allow continuous operation even in the event of a single element failure.

The flagship feature of every Geyser generator is the presence of dual safety systems, ensuring the complete safety of the operator. In case of any malfunction, there are two separate control circuits ready to intervene to prevent exceeding temperature or pressure limits. Each Geyser generator is equipped with an exclusive electronic control system of the water level in the boiler, capable of self-adjusting to the hardness and conductivity of the water available for its supply. Trevil is standing out for its constant commitment towards technological evolution, which also aims at optimizing energy consumption. This not only translates into a low environmental impact but also has positive repercussions on operating costs.

There are three main features that customers can require, all contributing to reducing consumption. Firstly, a stainless-steel condensate recovery tank, easily accessible and fully inspectable. An economizer that recovers the residual heat from condensate and uses it to preheat the water entering the boiler. The net result is significant savings in water and energy consumption. And finally, the exclusive Geyser-TRON electronic system, which is able to recognize the amount of steam that the system really needs and activates only the number of heating elements needed to generate it. This avoids unnecessary peaks in electricity consumption and increases the lifespan of the heating elements”.

Let’s move on now to Battistella B.G., a company and delve into the topic with Michele Battistella, the Sales Manager of the company located in Rossano Veneto. “In the industrial world, efficiency and longevity are essential concepts. Steam generators play a crucial role, providing the power needed to achieve flawless results. Battistella has been a leading manufacturer in the production of electric steam generators for almost 50 years, maintaining its distinguished quality and constantly updating models to keep pace with technology. Our range extends from the 1-liter Diana home boiler for domestic use to the 100-liter SATURNO MAX/S boiler for industrial use, covering every need. The main features of Battistella generators include stainless steel boilers on all models, an essential feature especially for the food sector to avoid contamination.

In industrial models, the presence of a steam chamber ensures a balance between water and steam, preventing any condensate leakage. In the recent years, we have introduced electronic control boards for precise monitoring of water levels in the boiler. Our green philosophy is reflected in plant generators, that can be equipped, upon request, with condensate recovery tanks. This system allows for the reuse of condensed water, reducing energy consumption. We also offer the option to equip our generators with external stainless-steel hulls, ensuring greater durability, especially in corrosive environments such as marine or desert areas. In addition to ironing, Battistella generators are used in the sanitization and ecological cleaning of various industries, such as the food and wine industry. We also provide solutions for Turkish baths in hotels and wellness centres, contributing to the relaxation and well-being of our customers,” concludes Battistella.

As Rotondi Group, if you would have to highlight an added value of your boilers range, what would you indicate? We are discussing about this with Davide Rotondi, the Commercial Director of the company with the same name. “At the request of the large fashion houses aiming to become more eco-friendly and considering the international guidelines for electricity savings and for giving the possibility to access 5.0 tax incentives, ROTONDI has developed a steam regulation system based on consumption. Can you explain us in more details, how does it actually work? The regulation is carried out through electronic modules with touch screen interface that can be applied to all sizes of steam generators SERIES IGOS 8 liters – 6.5 kW, 25 liters – 18 kW, and 57 liters – 120 kW. It is possible to automatically adjust the amount of steam required according to the consumption, ensuring energy savings from 10% to 30%, depending on the boiler’s capacity. A sensor designed by our technicians reads the consumption, automatically adjusting the power of the heating elements. The electronic module shows the current consumption, hourly consumption and percentage of savings on the touch display. These data can then be transferred via network to a server that can statistically calculate the energy savings of all ROTONDI steam generators present in the factory. The GAS IGOS-G series has also been redesigned to be able to reduce gas consumption by rationalizing the internal combustion capacity.”

“Steam, especially in the laundry and ironing sector, plays a key role both as an energetic source for all machinery as well as a valuable ally in the textile treatment.” This is the consideration from which Roland Fleischmann, the Sales Manager of Ghidini Benvenuto Srl, starts his assessment. “In its primary application (as energy source), steam can be managed with a centralized steam network or with steam generators designed for power and capacity so that they can be connected to a single machine or more simultaneously. For this reason, Ghidini has developed a wide range of products for any need. Ghidini steam generators are designed to meet any requirement as they can be equipped with boiler units of different sizes, heating elements of different power and safety valves of different calibrations. We have paid a special attention also regarding the energy savings; hence the use of special insulating covers and the production of condensate recovery tanks to exploit the hot water coming from the machines and reintroduce it into the boiler to keep the heating elements at minimum consumption.

As for the textile treatment, on the other hand, steam is one of the main allies in laundry and ironing facilities: its capabilities in relaxing fibers and smoothing out creases and its stain removing power are universally recognized. That is why Ghidini offers a wide range of ironing tables, form finishers, ironing presses and spotting tables that make steam the main protagonist: all machines can be equipped with internal boilers that allow for completely autonomous and independent use. Last but not least, in the recent years, we have also paid a special attention to the disinfecting action of steam, which with high temperatures can achieve results where chemical products cannot be used. From this need, Ghidini has developed a line of steam generators that, with the help of special accessories such as vertical ironing plates, lances, or brushes, allows for both detailed and large-scale disinfection of fabrics, leather items, footwear, and accessories.”

Which range of boilers do you produce, and on which ones do you focus the most? We are discussing about this with Eleonora Cartabbia, the Marketing Manager of Macpi who points out, “we produce electric boilers of various capacities for both industrial and semi-domestic use. Starting from the line of boilers for semiprofessional use, we produce models ranging from 2 liters to 5 liters. These are boilers with manual or semi-automatic refill options that include the iron and are mainly adopted for the tailoring sector. We move on to the boilers for professional use and in particular to the model 461 boiler that can feed 1 or 2 irons, featuring an actual 7-liter boiler unit with PED certification, complying with all welding and technical characteristics regulations. This boiler also features an anti-limescale device and a floating device to measure the water level. In the same category, there are the boilers available to power 4 or 6 irons, with an 11-liter tank and a power range from 6 to 9 kW.

Ascending in the category, we find the boilers from the 418 series to power and operate ironing machines such as: form finishers for ironing various clothing items, ironing presses, and trousers topper. These boilers are the perfect solution for powering ironing tables and individual machines. Let’s say that a small laundry needs to get equipped with a shirt finisher or a trousers topper but doesn’t have the space or reason to install a gas boiler; but it can easily install one of these boilers. Then finally, we have the Model 417 range of boilers that varies from 24 to 240 kW of electrical power and are available in 10 versions and powers according to the requirements. This type of boilers can power up complete ironing systems and also automatic machines for ironing shirts, and pants up to the Ironing Tunnels.

Which is the market trend in this specific sector? Considering the energy transition phase that we are currently experiencing many companies are reconsidering the electric solution, as with suitable photovoltaic systems, they can produce the necessary energy and be self-sufficient from a circular economy perspective. Given the recent issues related to gas prices and availability, it is an alternative that is also increasingly being considered clothing factories where it is often preferred to a large centralized gas boiler. This is because in many cases machinery is used for limited periods of time and not during the day, so it becomes convenient to turn on the boiler and certain machinery only at certain times and when there is really needed. Moreover, being equipped with independent groups of heating elements, they can be turned on according to actual need, thus limiting energy waste”.

Last but not least, we talk to Michele Plebani, the Area Manager Italy of Pony SpA, a company specialised in producing ironing equipment for professional laundries. “Pony knows very well that the steam generator is the core of any laundry and first and foremost it must be also reliable. In order to be reliable over time it must be built by using the best materials and with the right thicknesses. Usually there are steam generators made with the aim of achieving a high “plate” power, but with poor construction quality, which compromises the durability of the product and its components over time. To ensure optimal operation, it is essential that the architecture of the generator achieves the right balance between the power of the heating elements and the volume of the boiling water. Without this, the heating elements are overstressed and are experiences gained over time, both with gas/diesel and electric generators in more recent history, all equipped with in-house made control units.

Which is the role and the efficiency of these control units? Controlling the temperatures of the heating elements is an essential aspect: all our steam generators are equipped with safety features that prevent them from overheating over the values pre-set by the manufacturer, against any potential inconvenience. Additionally, water level controls in the steam generators are also carried out by high-precision and durable probes, positioned at specific points in relation to the boiling bath and protected from any electromagnetic interference by special filters. These features are common to all Pony steam generators, from the smallest to the largest and most powerful, from those that work at very low pressure to those that are powered up to 7 bar. With their advanced technological component, Pony generators are able to provide the amount and type of steam required by the specific application: low-pressure and temperature to dampen the fabrics, as well as very hot and dry steam for heating the press plates and ensure maximum productivity of the equipment or for disinfecting objects and surfaces.

Furthermore, among the first companies to foresee the practicality and convenience of incorporating the steam generators into ironing equipment, an optimal system for creating workstations with minimal energy consumption. Our complete series of electric generators ranges from small boilers suitable for feeding one or more irons, up to those for more complex installations that produce steam quantities of up to 180 kg/hour. Finally, I would like to emphasize that Pony has also developed the ENERGY SAVER device, consisting of a three-phase pump and a special high temperature condensate return circuit (85°C), achieving significant energy savings,” concludes Plebani. •

by Marzio Nava
DETERGO Magazine # April 2024