Commercial Washing Machine - Selection and Operation

Washing Machine (Washer Extractor) Selection and Operations!

Commercial Washing Machine-Old practice of washing and drying clothes:

Commercial Washing Machines are heavy duty washer extractors manufactured to run for long working hours. Let us see how the development in the washing process took place. 

It was post-independence when we started receiving water through the taps in our bathrooms and basins. Previously the clothes were washed near the well and the river by the housewives or laundresses, by beating the clothes at the solid rocks. 

In some houses the laundry water was carried at home, heated on the fire, and then this warm water was poured into the tub and used to wash the clothes. Many of the places the dry soil was used to clean the oil and grease stains by rubbing it on the clothes.

In fact after the introduction of the soap bars and soap powder, clothes were soaked in soap water, warm or cold depending on the stains and the dye(Color) of the clothes. Then it is washed using the soap bar by hitting and rubbing the clothes on the piece of stone kept at home. 

Now, the clothes were rinsed in fresh and clean water to remove soap. After that, the bunch of clothes were straightened and twisted by hands to extract the water. This entire process used to occupy the entire day of the housewives or laundresses. 

Realizing the time wasted by the housewives, in the process of cleaning clothes. Entrepreneurs have started providing the laundry service to the people. This entrepreneur, what we call Dhobi, started collecting the clothes from the villagers who used to wash at Dhobi Ghats, where the water is stored in ponds, dry the clothes under the sun, iron the clothes and return it back to the villages. On the whole the laundry sector started flourishing and the development in the design of washing machines evolved. 

Commercial Washing Machine Old Designs: 

Understanding the requirements of the laundry washers, scientists started designing and developing the machine. The invention of the first washer is believed to be in the 18th century. Before the invention of electric washers, hand-operated washers were designed, which were operated by rotating the drum with the peddle, to help with rubbing and scrubbing of clothes.

Early 19th-century steam energy is used in designing the washers. In this era, electric washers also started developing. Alva John Fisher was incorrectly awarded recognition for inventing electric machines. The inventor of the electric washers remains unknown to the world.

At this time when the electric washers were invented, continuous improvement in the technological designs took place. The mechanism of washer was enclosed in the cabinet and safety measures were incorporated in the process of designing. Dangerous power mangle/wringers were replaced by spin dryers. The use of washers in the commercial as well as domestic sector has been boosted in this era.

Washing and Drying Using an Automatic Washing Machine:

Realizing the time wasted by the housewives, in the process of cleaning clothes. Entrepreneurs have started providing laundry services to people. This entrepreneur is what we call Dhobi.

Consequently, the Hoover company manufactured two tub washers, one for washing the clothes and the other as a washer extractor or centrifugal rinsing.

Those automatic washers relied on electro-mechanical timers to sequence the washing and the extraction process. These electro-mechanical timers consist of a series of cams fitted on a common shaft driven by a small electric motor via a reduction gearbox. At an appropriate time as per the rotation of the cam, it actuates a switch to engage or disengage a particular function of the machine.

In the early electro-mechanical times, the motor ran at the same speed throughout the wash cycle, with the requirement of flexibility to control the cycle time, and electric timers (switches) were introduced to supplement the electro-mechanical timers. These electric timers enable flexibility and greater control over soaking time, washing cycle time, and drying time.

Some double tub washers had the ability to pump the used wash water and store it in another tub for further use in the next cycle. This was done not to save soap water but to save the energy required to heat the water from normal temperatures. The speed of the motor here was controlled by the use of rheostat.   

Development in the Modern Washing Machine

In this period, some of the washers were manufactured with the outer drum made of plastic. Because of the plastic drums, it became difficult to change the bearing in the bearing housing, as the plastic the drum cannot be separated into two halves, being molded.

Subsequently, the automatic washers went a long way to producing cost-effective machines that had great control over the speeds of the motor. Now, the gearboxes were eliminated and the motors were used to be controlled electronically even by using remote access, using the internet.

Many manufacturers worked to reduce vibration and sound levels to the permissible limit, by using hydraulic shock observers and spring suspensions and by having freely moving steel balls to support the drum.

Some manufacturers started using a direct drive motor to the shaft of the drum, where a co-axial rotor is mounted on the shaft of the inner drum. The stator assembly is attached to the backside of the outer drum. This eliminated the use of pulleys and the pulley belt and the pulley tension.

The modern washer market is flooded with different features and designs as per the manufacturer.

Features of washing machine as per the design are as stated below.

Some washers have a flat plate mounted at the bottom of the drum to support the agitators. The plate spins and the agitator generates the wave in the water that helps to remove the soil out of the clothes.

Agitator: In the top-loaded washers. A vertical column in the center of the washer rotates the clothes by twisting back and forth. So that every surface receives thorough and even cleaning. Powerful wash action may sometimes damage delicate clothes and there is a chance that the clothing may catch onto the central column and stretch and tear the cloth.

Impellers: Impellers look like propellers on a boat, fitted at the bottom backside of the boat to give locomotive action. Impellers are generally gentle on clothes.

Some washers have a water jet along with the steam nozzles and claim the sanitization of the clothes and remove soils from the clothes. Water jets receive water from the bottom of the washers thus reducing the consumption of water by circulation.

Some have a drum filled with water at the bottom and also water sprinkled from the top over the clothes and forms pyramid or hexagon-shaped waves to help remove the soil deposited on the clothes.

Some models have the light fixed inside the drum to watch the washing process.

In the latest modern models, the detergent is stored in the soap dispensers and the softeners are stored in the drums. The washer-extractor automatically takes the required quantity of soap, softener and water in the appropriate proportion as per the type of clothes and as per the pre-designed programs for the particular textile. 

In many machines the soap and water is pre-mixed in the air to form the foam and then this foam is automatically poured inside the drum.

Some washers had a top-loaded horizontal axis washer extractors, which saved huge amounts of water and saved the space of mounting compared to the front-loaded washers. 

Additional Features of  Washing Machine:

Later in recent times the washer extractors were incorporated with a microprocessor to control the dosing and cycle timers, which is mostly cheaper than the electro-mechanical timers. Some machines have touch screen sensors and can also be controlled remotely by having access to mobile phones or computers.

Some machines adopt Smart Load Technology, which offers on-premises laundries, saving in water, detergent, and energy. Smart load automatically adjusts the quantity of dosing of the detergent and water in accordance with the load and the type of fabric, without the user interference in the process. These washers have a high spin of up to 1000 rpm to create water extraction forces of up to 400G. This means that less than 50%of residual moisture is left after washing, which in turn means faster drying and further saving in the energy.

Another feature in the high spin washer extractor of specific models of the companies, makes Aqua mixture. Here there is precise control over hot and cold water usage, further saving energy, and reducing wash cycle time. The unique “Care Touch” feature prolongs linen life and optimizes water extraction. Here drum holes are pressed into the Viton - sealed stainless steel to ensure there are no sharp edges and also drains the last drop of water extracted.  

The washer's highly controllable inverter and microprocessor make it possible to configure extremely accurate and versatile programs. The advanced high spin models, which offer virtually unlimited (up to 99) programming options for economic, water, and energy-efficient operation, have the widest range of different requirements, including wet cleaning. The user controls are highly intuitive and very quick and easy to master.

In modern times, the washers are manufactured with high extraction of moisture contained, hence now the washers are termed as Washer-Extractors. Now the use of hydro extractors is almost eliminated from the laundry process.

Washer Extractor - Mounting and Spin Speeds:

Hard Mount:

Hard Mount washer-extractor comes with a medium speed of around 600rpm with the spin factor of around 200G without noise or vibrations. These washer-extractors are mounted with encore bolts by drilling a hole in the ground.

Soft Mount:

On the other hand high spin washer-extractors come with a spin of 900 to 1200 rpm with a spin factor of around 350 to 450 G, without noise or vibrations. These washers are mounted on the frame and it is just placed on the platform. No drilling to the ground is required. The drum of these washers is mounted with high tensile springs and hydraulic shock absorbents. Maximum extraction of moisture is carried out in this type of washer extractor, hence saving a lot of energy otherwise required in the next process of drying.

 Water Recovery System:

Showing environmental care and an increase in profitability due to a reduction in the water consumption by up to 50% by recovering rinse water and using the recovered water in pre-wash and washing phase.

The recovery tank comes with a total kit consisting of a recovery pump, solenoid valve, and connection pipes. The reused water is normally warmer than the water from the main tank. Hence it requires less heating and further saving energy. This is an additional feature attached to the washer if required.  

Tunnel Washer: Cutting water, energy, and labor costs:

Importantly to make the most efficient use of labor, water, energy, and chemicals continued to be the main influence on the laundry business and this has significant use of Tunnel Washer. Tunnel washers are also called a continuous batch washer, which is designed to wash heavy loads in the industry. 

A long metal tube device, a huge metal spiral screw runs down the center of the tunnel, which is divided into sections, compartments, or pockets as we call it. The linen is loaded at one end of the washer and the water at the other end. 

Proper chemicals were added along the way, the linen forced to move in one direction and the water in the other direction, allowing the linen to move into the fresher water and chemicals every time. 

The washed linen comes out through the other end after passing through all the compartments of the different cleaning processes. Though this equipment is extremely expensive, they are common with major hotels, hospitals, and railways. 

Gas heated laundry equipment:

The concept involves switching the various laundry equipment components from steam heating to direct gas heating. Many have developed a special, water- heating process, a gas-fueled boiler that can be used for freshwater and also, when combined with a filter system, for heating process water.

This allows the tunnel washer’s wastewater, to be filtered and recycled. The tunnel washers now heat up the processed water in the compartment with a direct injection of gas. Maximum energy saving is now obtained by combining the low-temperature washing process with the integration of a spiral tube in tube heat exchanger. This can save a huge amount of energy.

Chemical manufacturers recommend tunnel washers that use water with low temperatures of about 60 to 65-degree centigrade can save tremendous energy compared with the traditional washer which operates at 85-degree Centigrade. 

Selection of Washer Extractor:

While selecting the washer-extractor for your business, the following points have to be considered.

       1.    The capacity of the clothes to be washed in a day.

       2.    Working hours in a day.

       3.   Types of clothes expected. (Eg. Bed Sheets, Towels, etc.)

       4.   The quality of clothes required along with the production speed.

       5.   Consumption of Electricity, Water and Chemicals.

       6.  The material of the manufacturing of the washer-extractor.

       7.   Additional services provided by the company along with the Warranty.

       8.   Availability of spare parts.

       9.  Space required by the washer extractor.

     10. Break-even point. It is not calculated on the price of the equipment; it is calculated          on the minimum downtime. 

Note: Use of de-mineralized water, constant electric supply, regular maintenance of the machine, using the proper combination of heat and water, and use of good quality detergents are some of the factors which will help increase the life of the washer-extractor by up to 15 to 20 years.

Frequently asked questions regarding washing machines (Washer-Extractor)

  Q1. Is the top-loaded washer better or the front-loaded washers?

  A. The horizontal drum of front-loaded washers makes use of gravity to tumble the load of clothes. Called the G Force. Hence, front-loaded models are more efficient as less energy and water is utilized compared to top loaded models. Also, front-loaded machines use less detergent and 50% less warm water as compared to the top-loaded model.  

  Q2. Is it true that top loaded models are more gentle on the clothes?

         compared to the front-loaded models of the washer.

 A. It is a myth, Modern washing machines are manufactured using sophisticated machines, but the making of drums and the punching of holes in the circumference of the drums gives a better result.


  Q3. In terms of power consumption, which machines are better, top-loaded washing                  machines or front-loaded washing machines?

 A. Top loaded washing machines save on water and power compared to top loaded washing machines as they make use of gravity. Top loaded washing machines (Washer-Extractors) are used domestically and front-loaded washing machines are used commercially.  

   Q4. What damages clothes? Washers or dryers?  


 A.  No machines damage the clothes if they are manufactured keeping all

the aspects in mind. As said earlier, the drum must have perfect perforation and in dryers if the programs are perfectly designed according to the temperature required for different fabrics, then there is no question of damage.  

      Q5. Belt drive motors or direct drive motors better for washing machines?  

  A. Belt drive produces less noise compared to direct drive. Belt drive dampens vibrations, whereas direct drive produces more vibrations when the rpm goes up. The maintenance cost of the belt drive is less than the direct-drive and easier to disengage for maintenance. Direct drives require less space compare to belt drive. Belts are sensitive to the surrounding temperature, so the probability of failing is high.  

      Q6. What are the factors considered while selecting the washer?  

  A. Brand, Type, Capacity, Size, and Cost are the basic factors. Then one has to see the availability of Spare parts, the Warranty offered by the company, after-sales service. These are the points to be considered while buying the washing machine.  

      Q7. Why are top-loaded washers less expensive than the front-loaded washers?  


     A.  Top loaded washers are operated with a pulsator or agitator system. The front-loaded washers give better results than the top-loaded washers. As loading and unloading become very easy, front-loaded washers are designed for higher capacities. Though the initial cost is high in the long run, front-loaded machines proved to be economical as they save energy and water.

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