Dirty air means a dirty environment, and that defeats the purpose of taking clothing, linens and other garments to a dry cleaner. To provide customers with optimal service, would mean using clean compressed air to run equipment, clean clothing and keep things operating smoothly.
Chemical cleaning applications are the future of the drycleaning industry. Here’s a guide to look at the benefits and must-haves in today’s air compressors for dry cleaning. For a dry-cleaning press, an air pressure range of 70 to 90 and an average free air consumption (CFM) of 3 would be suitable.
Standard Air Requirements for Dry Cleaners
Every dry cleaner runs a unique operation of chemical processes, storage, on-site or off-site treatment and other business practices. Based on these concerns and others like the size and volume of business, each dry cleaner will need a specific air compressor setup designed and installed just for them.
That said, there are elements of each air compressor for dry cleaning systems that should be consistent. Here are some of the important features that have seen of those in the dry cleaning business.
• Class 0 air quality
• Compact, space-saving design
• Easy to operate and maintain
• Energy efficiency is a must
• Low operating and maintenance costs
• Quiet operation throughout
• Supports environmentally friendly fluids and materials
• Variable speed control options
• Very reliable air quality and compressed air production
Energy efficiency is one of the top requirements for dry cleaners because utility bills alone can account for as much as 25% of a dry cleaner’s total operating costs.
Two Types of Air Compressors for Dry Cleaners
There are two types of air compressors for dry cleaning that deliver the precision required: rotary screw and reciprocating. Each can meet the demands of chemical applications in order to ensure the operations properly clean and prepare clothing and linens, so that customers are satisfied and continue to come back to the business.
Rotary Screw Air Compressors for Dry Cleaning
Rotary screw air compressors are a time-tested and proven model that deliver high levels of reliability and efficiency. Those suited for dry cleaning applications use two meshing helical screws to perform the compression. Rotary screw compressors are often recommended because they’re among the easiest to maintain and operate, even as they move into larger outputs.
Reciprocating Air Compressors for Dry Cleaning
High-pressure applications in dry cleaning required for uses such as solvent recovery and plant maintenance may be best served through a reciprocating air compressor. These models will use a crankshaft-driven piston or pistons to deliver air at high pressure and maintain their status as the workhorse of the operations.
Reciprocating compressors can scale up significantly. To maximize overall productivity and efficiency it is essential to select the right unit designed for light applications in the dry-cleaning business.
Challenges for Air Compressors in Dry Cleaning
Laundry and dry-cleaning systems need to use the cleanest air possible because dirty air destroys service quality. This means the air compressor system should discharge to an air receiver and then flow through at least two filters and a dryer. All of these elements work together to remove debris and water from the air used. Sometimes it can be difficult to line everything up properly based on size, location and usage constraints.
Maintaining pressures throughout the operations could be a concern when applied to washers, assisting with clothes folding and much more.
Here are just a few of the challenges faced by dry cleaners large and small:
• Ambient inlet air conditions
• Compressed air treatment such as drying and filtering
• Generated heat from nearby machinery
• Inconsistent maintenance due to placements that aren’t easily accessed
• Noise that can disrupt employees and machinery
• Piping design and bends that produce excess condensation
• Space and placement concerns in facilities with a variety of hanging equipment
• System leaks — every ¼-inch leak
While many on the outside do not realize it, the dry-cleaning operations and the industry overall has very exacting methodologies with tight requirements that ensure specific quality and service delivery. Often, compressed air is seen as the fourth utility in industrial settings.
A dry cleaner will need to have access to accurate amounts of air at specific compression rates and speeds on demand. Whenever the air compressor turned on, the pressure should to be available and it has to be quiet so that employees can operate routinely without harm or in a distracting workplace.
Many dry cleaners operate on thin margins and have worked hard to know the number of workers they need for each shift in order to meet demand, while controlling costs. This strict adherence means demand for high-quality work from everyone, including air compressors.
Compressed Air Piping Systems
Dry cleaners are able to beat many industry problems when they adopt a compressed air piping system, saving money on operations while also increasing operational efficiency. Airnet Piping Systems offer a flexibility installation process that’s straightforward but can be adjusted to meet the specific demands of a dry-cleaning business.
Piping systems ensure that a business is delivering highquality pressurized air through any dry-cleaning deployment.
To optimize piping systems, here are a few tips:
1. Ensure it is easy to control pressure because pressure drops “are directly correlated with the rise in cost of these piping systems.”
2. Create a system with no — or as few as possible — bends to streamline the system and help maintain high levels of pressure. This will also avoid condensation and other issues that often occur in the bends of the system.
3. Install the system above the ground. Underground systems are harder to maintain and clean, can be dirtier and often waste more water than those installed above ground.
4. Install systems in places where workers will have easy access in the future. If a worker has to put weight on other equipment to perform routine maintenance, then you risk damage to both the piping system and the equipment that’s being leaned upon during the maintenance.
Advanced Oil-Free Needs
Dry cleaners often times require an oil-free system because it helps to ensure that an air compressor pushes out clean air and typically allows to operate as needed with less noise.
For example, heavily soiled garments might need to be jet steamed in order to be properly cleaned. This requires oil-free compressed air in order to evaporate the solvents that are left over from the cleaning.
The smaller pressure and volume requirements of many dry cleaners means that an oil-free compressor could operate at the required level of CFM and PSI to accomplish goals. These units can be also lighter weight and less expensive, which is important for operations where margins are relatively thin.
Managing Energy Costs
As previously noted, energy bills could reach up to a quarter of the operational costs or higher. Compressed air systems are often touted as a great energy saver because they can ensure consistent application of the cleaners while reducing maintenance costs and coolant costs for industrial equipment.
For dry cleaners, poorly maintained systems can waste 25% to 35% of the air due to leaks alone.
There are steps dry cleaners could take to further to ensure that the air compressors are operating at peak efficiency. The great news for dry cleaners is that the maintenance is simple and most fixes are extremely quick.
Some of the most important aspects for the business will be:
• Regular cleaning of intake vents
• Checking and cleaning air filters
• Monitoring heat exchangers, removing debris and cleaning
Occasionally, a dry-cleaners will need to perform a more thorough check of the air compressor system in order to ensure that things are working properly and that the right maintenance is being done to extend its life for as long as possible. Part of this process includes using an ultrasonic leak detector to check for air leaks in distribution lines. Again, modern conveniences have turned this check into a handheld unit that most businesses can also rent and operate on their own.