When we speak about workwear, we are aware of the fact that the subject matter needs to be thoroughly examined under many perspectives. It is a macro topic and as such, the spotlight should be directed onto a variety of aspects that concern it. What is the best way to wash work uniforms? Do they need to be ironed? If yes, what are the right tools to do it? How can we reduce the damages or monitor workwear loss when treated industrially in great quantities? Is there any correlation between workwear and work safety? By putting together some of the answers that companies have provided us with, and looking at them from different angles, we have been able to trace a rather complete picture of workwear treatment. Are there any new market perspectives for workwear?

We have sent the question to Livio Bassan, the Managing Director of Christeyns Italia, a multinational Belgian producer of chemical products and laundry detergents with its Italian headquarters in Pessano con Bornago (MI). “Workwear managed at 360° is becoming more and more crucial in relation to companies’ welfare, especially if workwear is also used as PPE. A correctly designed workplace from the ergonomics point of view and the guarantee that the sanitization has been carried out, especially during the current critical moment of the global pandemic, apart from maintaining the performance standards in case of PPE, have become important focus points for every industry today. Analyzing the PPE workwear in detail and the regulations in force, considering both law 34/1999 and the European Law 89/656/ CEE as well as Law 81/2008 and its further modifications, it has been stated that a correct choice of PPE is of an extreme importance in relation to the residual risks in any production context, including the maintenance of PPE efficiency and its sanitization. Quote: “Washing shall be assigned to specifically equipped laundries” (regulation 34/1999). Therefore, only the correctly equipped laundries will allow the producers to comply with what has been described above. Indeed, only the correctly equipped laundry businesses have obtained the EN 10465 – RABC certification that presents guidelines for a correct management of a broad range bio-contamination control of: wet and dry fabrics, surface and work desks, means of transport, line operators, drinking and process water, etc. Christeyns presents itself as a leading business of the segment thanks to the broad experience in work uniforms processing. The company has been servicing important market operators providing a specifically developed ad hoc product range. Many of the products, with the Ecolabel or Nordic Ecolabel certification, allow to reach the requirements of the Minimum Environmental Criteria, published by the gazzetta ufficiale (TN. the official journal of record of the Italian government) in January 2021, that are necessary for the participation in tenders regarding textiles washing and rental. The emission of the Minimum Environmental Criteria combines perfectly well with the environmental sustainability. The latter has become predominant in pointing towards the direction the society is heading. A large part of Christeyns R&D team works on the development of certified products in compliance with the environmental regulations Type I, ISO 14024 on the daily basis, and on the development of the regulations themselves”, concludes Bassan.

“As far as work uniforms are concerned, we are witnessing a recovery not only in regard to washing but also in relation to dry-cleaning,” says Marco Niccolini, the Sales Director at Renzacci SpA, a producer of industrial washing and dry-cleaning machines based in Città di Castello (PG). “We received requests for dry-cleaning machines of the Excellence series that use alternative solvents to perchlorethylene which confirms the fact that workwear treatment matches solvents alternative to perc perfectly well: we have registered a high-level performance also in case of particularly soiled workwear such as uniforms and gloves. Another important aspect is the environmental sustainability of the treatments. The new solvents are biodegradable and hypoallergenic, therefore they combine perfectly in consideration of the environment and performance. What should be noted is that the growing attention towards personal protection equipment (PPE) has been reflected by work uniforms. They need to be more and more compliant with the European guidelines in terms of safety. What is more, these new solvents turn out to be aggressive on the soil but not on the crucial elements of the treated garment, e.g. of the PPE. Also, another advantage concerns the fact that these treatments relate to industrially processed large quantities of workwear which leads to the problem of wash waste water management. Therefore, we have provided the large capacity Renzacci washers with the Ecocare technology, a system that allows to recuperate the cleaner rinsing water to then use it for the next washing stage. The solution results in a significant saving in water consumption and a sharp decrease in the problem of water depuration. What is more, Renzacci provides a WB series barrier washer-extractors that allow to treat health care sector garments that require processing in completely sterile areas”.

Moving on, we are speaking with ICT Group based in Reggio Emilia, a business that has been operating in the Information Technology market for more than thirty years both in Italy and abroad. Marco Tamarozzi, the CEO of ICT-group explains, “speaking about workwear, what we have in mind are work uniforms used by industries and health care sector operators. Our software, apart from garment traceability, also manages the productive process. Starting from the contract acquisition stage to the recovery of all the necessary information regarding staff (uniform size, occupation, ward, etc.), our software allows to create the delivery of all the equipment automatically. The system matches garments to the person/user and, if requested, it prints the label to be attached to the uniform. A process of this type is essential when dealing with large numbers. Today, the procedure of garment size data collection can be carried out automatically thanks to a system developed by ICT-group. It scans the body through a 3D camera. The operation allows to reduce the costs relative to “size measurements” and to increase the efficiency of the process. As far as traceability in laundry goes, the soiled material entering laundry is registered and the machines are integrated. It is possible, for example, to integrate the sorting system that allows laundries to handle work uniforms and to collect garments following a certain order (e.g. ward, type, etc.). The software can also interface with overhead systems for linen transfer and with the RFID antennas placed inside laundries. During the packaging stage, a garment passes through a RFID tunnel and is then scanned through an RFID pass at the delivery. At the clients’ premises, the software can interface with automatic garments distribution systems. When an employee arrives at the distributor, they proceedn with user recognition through a personal pass. Then, the system assigns them a correct garment (based on credits which means that once a certain number is overcome, it is not possible to receive a new garment before the soiled one was given back). This type of management allows to avoid waste, loss and theft. A complete and reliable system of garment traceability allows to avoid the inefficiency and waste, and to reach a lower cost of offered services. The system allows to identify the dispersion and the place where it was verified. What is more, it allows to classify the reduction in the circulating material, e.g. torn or damaged uniforms, soiled garments, the presence of stains. We work with large laundries but we are also receiving many requests for garments tracking systems based on RFID chip from small/medium laundries as they are interested in garments traceability more and more often today. We have created a simple and cheaper laundry solution in CLOUD that we and sell in the mode of Software as a Service (SaaS)”, concludes Marco Tamarozzi.

How and what should we get equipped with when speaking about “workwear” treatment in such a particular moment as the one we are currentlyliving? Big industries are searching for innovative, efficient sanitizing washing systems. It is crucial to always propose concentrated products that will eliminate all the stains, including the most persistent ones that constitute the characteristic type of soil for this type of garments, explains Stenilio Morazzini, the General Manager of Montega, a company headquartered in Misano Adriatico near Rimini. The company produces chemical products for laundries. Montega developed a system called Igientex that includes a biocidal product named Igien-tex Oxy Plus that, with the authorization request notwithstanding ex.art.55.1 regulation, has been registered by the Ministry of Health as disinfectant. Thanks to this product, Montega guarantees disinfection and sanitization of all kinds of workwear without any residual risks. It is important to underline that “work uniforms” category does not only include car workshop uniforms. It also includes medical white coats, hospital staff and nursing homes operators’ uniforms that can be washed using Montega’s “Wet Cleaning Nature” system, a certified, sustainable and innovative washing system developed by Dr. Francesca Iannone. What is more, we have added a hypoallergenic scent to the wet cleaning system, we use raw materials of plant origin and the bleaching is without the use of chlorine. But first of all, we guarantee an efficacious washing treatment at low temperatures. All the above allow to obtain great results also in case of workwear.

Next, we are speaking with Eleonora Cartabbia, the Marketing Manager at Macpi based in Palazzolo s/Oglio (Bs), a producer of ironing equipment. We ask her what tools, within the product range of the business, they could indicate for workwear treatment. “As far as workwear treatment and industrial laundries go, we should propose our new machine called Tunnel Finisher 534, particularly useful when treating the health care garments. The tunnel can be composed of several adjustable modules that start from the minimum number of three up to the maximum of eight. Obviously, the bigger the tunnel, the greater the number of processed garments: the largest one processes up to 2000 garments per hour. In the first chambers, the garment is steamed, then there are ventilation and blowing chambers. The garment is then automatically loaded on a hanger and it can be connected to apackaging machine. It is then packed, labelled and sorted (this equipment is provided by our business  partner). The tunnel is equipped with an innovative panel system, it is possible to control it from remote. The best ironing results can be reached through a new ventilation  chamber developed by Macpi, that offers a limited noise level and reduced consumptions. Thanks to a radial engine that the machine has been provided with, it is possible to obtain an evenly spread blowing along the entire ventilation chamber and not just in some disconnected points. Garments are spread evenly and better thanks to a stronger air blow, which prevents from falling off the hanger. What is more, Macpi’s new generation touch screen is completely user-friendly thanks to an intuitive, multifunction display. In this way, the machine is even more functional. On request, it is also possible to develop dedicated software able to integrate the entire productive process under the perspective of 4.0”, concludes Cartabbia.

One of the sectors less affected by the global pandemic is definitely the workwear sector”, underlines Alessandro Rolli, the Managing Director of Kannegiesser Italia with its headquarters in Opera (MI). “Over the last 12 months, we have witnessed a progressive increase in the demand for machines that process workwear of any kind, e.g. health care sector uniforms, industrial workwear, PPE or just simple uniforms. Still, the pressure of reference prices and the competition of the sector are imposing targeted choices in relation to the type of fabrics (polyester/cotton). Choices that are orientated towards the creation of real and proper garment finishing systems able to guarantee constant workflows and an adequate level of automation. Kannegiesser is able to design high level automation systems with ergonomic loading stations, tunnelfinishers with a patented counter-currently air inlet with respect to the linen flow and folding robots with SERVO technology (servomotors). A basic module with 3 loading stations can produce about 800/900 pieces per hour (polyester/cotton fabrics) with 3 operators on the hanger loading stations and 1 operator in the preparation/expedition area. The finishing plant modules are adjustable and extendable according to the growth in requests (hourly production) or service requirements (delivery by size, operator, floor, locker, etc.). In such a case, we study a “sorting” system that, in most cases (except for any structural limitations of the building) is developed on a secondsed of a garment storage area and a device for the selection and sorting of garments (sorter). The Sorting is a fully autonomous system that requires just 1 additional operator responsible for the monitoring of the procedures and the calls of the garments which have to be transferred from the storage area to the Sorter. As a partner in laundry technology, we truly hope that the growth in the workwear segment continues and that it aligns with the European benchmarking”, concludes Alessandro Rolli.

During such difficult times of the global pandemic, managing work uniforms and their hygiene has become very important for any employer as it is crucial to guarantee workwear cleaning and sanitizing. For years, PONY has been designing highly technological machines aiming at the reduction in labor costs. “Our SHIRT FINISHERS” explains Paolo Fumagalli, the President of Pony based in Inzago (Mi), “are ideal for the finishing of chef uniforms, medical white coats, nurse uniforms, etc. especially when we talk about EAGLE 2.0, a machine that offers the possibility of setting the form higher to finish white coats. The machine can produce up to 120 units per hour. Another point of interest are the machines used in more than one context, e.g. our FINISHER 404 that allows to finish all types of outerwear both wet and drycleaned, such as white coats, uniforms, chef uniforms and shirts. As far as trousers are concerned, PONY offers a wide range of TOPPERS, that are ideal for the finishing of both stretch and non-stretch trousers, wet or dry-cleaned, with the production reaching 100 units per hour. Another solution by PONY are the LAV SERIES PRESSES that translate to an optimal quality/price ratio. The presses are available with different shape ironing boards for the pressing of a variety of work garments: uniforms, white coats, trousers, etc. Apart from the ironing equipment, PONY offers a complete range of sanitizing products such as an ozone cabinet called OZOCAB for the sanitizing of garments and various objects, while as far as work environment goes, PONY presents a brand new professional portable unit called OZOCUBO. Steam sanitizing is reflected by SANI-BABY, a steam generator that provides sanitizing and vertical ironing at the same time. The range also includes SANIPRO, a room sanitizing generator that can be equipped with a gun that allows to mix steam with any sanitizing chemical product”, concludes Paolo Fumagalli.

by Marzio Nava

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MARCH 2021