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WOPCOM Blog: Quality and Service. Are You A Quality Cleaner? By Ken Cupitt

Put this question to the vast majority of cleaners and very few would not make a positive response. However, after a period of many years, and following well over a thousand in depth quality audits in unit shops and factory operations, many cleaners would be horrified to see the blatantly obvious nature of some faults on garments awaiting collection that have been observed. This is not to say that cleaners do not make a real effort to establish good quality standards, most do, but do not have the essential systematic inspection procedures in place at all the critical stages in the process, to ensure the highest quality standards are achieved.

It is worth considering the impact that serious faults can have on your business revenue. Taking the case of a regular customer who has had their garment returned with an obvious stain that had been pointed out at reception on depositing the item; no explanation has been given for the unsatisfactory result on collection. The customer may be so disappointed that they then take the garment to a competitor who removes the stain making sure to inform the customer how easy it was! The original cleaner is unlikely to know why the regular customer was lost. Most cleaners will be familiar with this kind of scenario many having had garments returned to them from a competitor. Being realistic we need to ask ourselves how many of my complaints are my competitors receiving?

Making A Start
So how do we go about raising standards?
The first step is to establish what we mean by “Quality” There are many definitions such as “a degree or level of excellence” and there are of course the ISO quality management systems. From the point of view quality this represents not just our standards of cleanliness and cleaning, spotting and finishing but the overall level of service we deliver to our customers as high standards of cleaning. Stain removal and finish are unlikely on their own to promote ongoing improvements in turnover.

Untidy, poorly trained counter staff can, on their own, can lead to a serious loss of business and for some cleaners there is also a need to take a long hard look at their shop front. A drycleaners/wet cleaners shop must look like a place where clothes are cleaned!
Unfortunately some do not meet this simple criteria and many potential customers may be discouraged from entering by the outward appearance of their premises. It comes down to this if our shop is not clean and bright how can our customers be confident that we are competent to clean their clothes?
We are in the appearance business and if you really want to know how to sell cleaning services go and take a look at the cosmetics counter in almost any major high street store. The staff are all selling their products in terms of their personal appearance – we need to take a leaf out of their book.

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WOPCOM Blog: New Textile Care Market Emerging? Rental of Private Apparel, by Dr. Geert Böttger

The textile rental concept is meanwhile approx. 130 years old, and it has proven to be a successful business model in the b2b world. In the last years we have seen increasingly new businesses, which focus on the rental of private apparel – b2c. Most of the offers include free cleaning and some even altering to individual measures. Can this be an emerging market for professional textile care companies?

Most of the rental companies for private textiles are currently in Asia, most notably in India and China, and in the US (see table). Even apparel brands like American Eagle have established a rental business. You can browse the American Eagle offer as an interesting example under www.aestyledrop.com.

How it works
Most of the private apparel rental models work like this:
(1) the consumer can choose favourable styles online
(2) they need to subscribe to the service with a subscription scheme. These subscription schemes can be monthly flat fees for a fixed number of styles, or more differentiated packages, which tie the number of rented styles and time to different fees.
(3) the chosen items are sent to the customer, They can be new, or used, but need to be “like new”.
(4) after the defined time they can be sent back or alternatively the customer can buy the garment with a meaningful discount.
(5) very important: the customer doesn`t have to do the textile care, neither taking the garments to the dry cleaner, nor to launder them.

Changing Consumer Habits
These models are reflecting trends in society and consumer behaviour. They reflect and support changing consumer minds. The authors of the very recommendable McKinsey Report „State of Fashion 2019“ are stating two fundamental trends at young apparel consumers:
(1) Research shows that the average person today buys 60 percent more items of clothing than they did 15 years ago. However, consumers keep that clothing for only half as long as they used to. One in seven consumers consider it a fashion faux-pas to be photographed in an outfit twice. Simply put, young people today crave newness, and these cohorts are much more likely to embrace churn in their wardrobes.
(2) At the same time younger generations are more interested in sustainable clothing than older consumers. Rental, resale and refurbishment models lengthen the product lifecycle while offering the newness consumers desire.

We like to add here another aspect of consumer habits, based on several Cinet research overviews:
(3) Textile care is for private households increasingly a convenience service, which allows consumers to spend more time to higher valued activities in family life, career or hobby. Accordingly most of the rental models feature as a key pilar of the offer textile care for free, when returning the styles.

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WOPCOM Blog: Water: Machine Motor Drive Control – Understanding the jargon!, by Ken Cupitt

When we buy a new machine we seldom ask about the drive of the electrical motors or the technology of the electrical control system but technology has improved the performance, plus reduced the energy costs in use, and helped to avoid the cause of future machine failures. We may be told our beautiful new machine has a micro processor control and because of this is more efficient but how is this possible?

Almost all of the electrical motors used on equipment in our industry use AC Motors and in the last thirty years these are now being controlled by a device referred to as an AC Drive, or a VFD. A variable-frequency drive (VFD), other names being adjustable-frequency drive (AFD), variable-voltage/variable frequency (VVVF) drive, variable speed drive (VSD), micro drive or inverter drive, as well as AC Drive and these are all types of adjustable-speed drive used in electro-mechanical drive systems to control AC motor speed and torque by varying motor input frequency and voltage. AC Drives are used in our industry in many applications ranging from small equipment to large complex systems. It is thought that about 25% of the world’s electrical energy is consumed by electric motors in industrial applications, which can be made more efficient when using these VFDs in drive load service, and these have been developed over the last four decades, with power electronics technology reducing both cost and size. With this has come improved performance through advances in semi-conductor switching devices, control techniques, control hardware and software.

All electrical motors consume electricity so need a corresponding amount of energy to provide the torque or speed needed. If the torque or speed is too high or low, mechanical controls, such as the VFD, are used to control the output. A motor’s speed should match exactly what is required by the process; otherwise the result is inefficiency with a lot of wasted energy. Not being able to control motors can mean a lot of energy gets wasted which isn’t good for any business and a way to control these motors, which not only saves energy, but improves productivity and reduces maintenance costs, is to use an inverter.

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WOPCOM Blog: CWS-Repositioning – Focus On Responsible Business Development, by Dr. Geert Böttger

Since some months CWS implemented it’s repositioning very visible. Light pink and coral red signal flashy that CWS is changing. Away with the modest red and blue of the old CWS boco logo! Changed to extremely visible pink and coral red blocks as background for a straight black CWS and service messages. Also, CWS does not stand any longer for the abbreviation of the founder’s name. Now CWS means now: Clean Well Safe. The claim is the name.

CWS is changing severely. The integration of the acquired Initial business has been a major step for CWS boco in 2017, 2018, and is still ongoing, but the new corporate image and revealed in 2019 goes beyond that and is more than just a change in image and colours. It marks a new strategy.

On the one hand all the brands under the CWS-boco umbrella have been unified. No longer boco, Initial, to name only the most prominent of the approx. 20 brands, which the CWS branding team was counting. On the other hand, the new name and its claim Clean Well Safe is opening up for a wide range of possible services and sets out a strategic guideline for the future, which is thoroughly based on two ideas. (1) offering system solutions and (2) sustainability as backbone for the whole company development. The recently published CSR-report 2018/2019 from CWS is spelling that out in details of 2018.

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WOPCOM Blog: Water: Its Problems in a Laundry and What To Do About It!, by Ken Cupitt

There is now greater attention paid to product quality when items are being washed and hygiene as well as safety is given much more attention than perhaps even the customer appreciates. In general the amount of water available is reducing and its price increasing and we must use our technological skill to be as economical as possible with its usage. There is an increasing awareness of environmental conservation and we have a duty to conform with legislation regarding the quality and quantity of effluent we discharge into our sewers. The quality of raw water supplied by the water authorities is considered high in terms of purity for human consumption, but there are however, few waters which can be used for washing in laundry terms without some form of additional treatment.

Water falls in the form of rain, or snow, on to the ground soaking into it, or trickling over it, to form streams and rivers. On this journey the water comes into contact with many different types of rock formation, any of which may be water soluble. Water which flows very slowly, or stagnates, has an opportunity to dissolve other kinds of impurity, for example the products of decaying vegetation. From these examples it can be seen that no water that is available from natural sources can be said to be pure, although the presence of these impurities does not render it unfit for human consumption.

In terms of washing some of the impurities acceptable in drinking quality terms can have detrimental properties when applied from a laundry view.

Iron, or compound of iron, can be dissolved from certain types of rock and the effect in a washing process is to turn white items yellow and to produce discoloration on coloureds. In the case of woolens the yellow and discoloration can occur at very low levels of iron contamination. It is quite common to find naturally occurring soft waters containing iron, and this requires a special treatment or aeration and filtration. As the water is heated, any calcium and magnesium bicarbonates present decompose to form the carbonates and carbon dioxide. The impurities present in a water for laundry use are important from two points of view. In the first place they decide whether the water is suitable for use without treatment; if it is not, they also decide the kind of treatment that is required.

Hardness is probably the most important impurity. It is now generally recognised that the laundry use of water with a hardness greater than 6-7 degrees (100 ppm) is indefensible, both from the points of view of the quality of work obtainable and also of economy. All hard water can be softened, and the softening process always makes for real economy, since hard water causes such great waste of washing materials in the washing process. Hard water does not give a precipitate with synthetic detergents but it gives rise to a chalk-like loading with the usual laundry alkalis.

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WOPCOM Blog: Soil Contamination by PERC

Worldwide Perc is widely used as the main solvent for Textile Cleaning by professionals. However, in many countries dry cleaners are not aware about the risks for human beings and the environment this (might) bring(s). In many countries there is no appropriate legislation or legislation is is not maintained. The results will be devastating for the future sustainability of dry-cleaning companies.

For this reason CINET has developed the promotion & PR of implementing Best Practices in professional dry cleaning! The Global Best Practices Awards Program has been set up to stimulate sustainable processing in the PTC industry and also to demonstrate capability of the industry to do so worldwide.

Adapting Best Practices in the professional textile services and textile cleaning, has proven to bring the best sustainable solution for textile cleaning possible:

  • 24% lower CO2 exhaust
  • 35% – 80% less water usage

Resulting in 3-5 times better performance compared to domestic textile cleaning. This requires though also to clean up historic contamination, when present.

The full BOSATEX article demonstrates that a proactive approach in soil remediation is possible and paid off in the Netherlands.

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For further info please contact the CINET secretariat at cinet@cinet-online.com or call +31 344 650 430

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WOPCOM Blog: Untapped Potential of Social Media, by Dr. Geert Böttger

Today, in many economic sectors, Social Media have developed into a standard marketing topic. Not only for the retail sector by targeting customer reach, but as an important tool for B2B communication, too. However, throughout small and medium sized companies, we observe some uncertainty regarding the advantages in view of clear results. Those companies are technically still developing their marketing online potential. Yet, communication between companies is clearly shifting towards online. Let’s have a look at the relevance of social media as part of online communication for the textile service sector.

B2B Communication Changes

During the last years, communication between companies has changed remarkably and this trend will be an ongoing one. Digital communication technologies are decisively influencing the presentation and dialogue mode, including the B2B sector. Regarding sales, for instance, there is simply more time for decisions by purchasers to choose vendors of possible providers, because the internet offers previous choice options. A study by Millward Brown Digital ‘B2B Path to Purchases’, analysing the purchase mode of companies in 2014, states that companies already had had some 12 searches before they decided to contact a specific provider. Searching periods – without directly contacting a provider – are increasing, because the professionally reliable searching conditions on the internet are improving. The ways of personnel acquisition have also been changed completely by use of internet.

Social Media Exploring

Of course, the company website is the main part of its internet presence. There are lots of additional communication options though, which can be helpful for a diversity of company targets. Social Media are part of these options, playing an increasing role also in the B2B market. Many companies have started to try social media. We have analysed more than 80 textile service companies and their suppliers and noticed that some 50% are offering  additional links to their social media presences (see table “Social Media by Selected Companies”).

41 companies with social media presences are using 3.4 different social media platforms. With 35 companies, Facebook is in the lead. LinkedIn and YouTube are following with 32 and 29 company accounts, Twitter reached 22, Xing 11, Instagram 9 and Pinterest 2 company accounts. Smaller social media networks have been neglected, as well as private accounts of company staff.

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WOPCOM Blog: Trust placed in retailers and manufacturers, by Ken Cupitt

Displaying the fibre percentages of textiles on garments is a mandatory requirement in the UK. This is specified in the 2012 edition of the Guidance on Textile Products (Labelling and Fibre Composition) Regulations.
These regulations state that information about the main fibre content of a garment must be displayed in percentages, e.g. 100% Cotton etc.,
Nightwear, babies, toddler, and small children’s clothing are required by The Guide to the Nightwear (Safety) Regulations 1985 to carry a permanent label indicating whether they meet the flammability standard BS-5722.
In this standard, the label requires KEEP AWAY FROM FIRE to be clearly displayed on the label and in red.

There isn’t a compulsory regulation within garment construction to require the display of the country of origin within the EU, but trading regulations insist that it is necessary to state this. However, there is no regulation for advice on the after care of the garment to be displayed and the inclusion of washing/dry cleaning instructions is not mandatory in the UK. If after care labels are attached it is recommended that the use of GINETEX symbols are the standard – the system used throughout Europe.
ISO 3758:2012 established a system of graphic symbols, intended for use in the marking of textile articles, and for providing information on the most severe treatment that does not cause irreversible damage to the article during the textile care process, and specifies the use of these symbols in care labelling. The following domestic treatments are covered: washing, bleaching, drying and ironing. Professional textile care treatments in dry and wet cleaning, but excluding industrial laundering, are also covered. However, it is recognised that information imparted by the domestic symbols will also be of assistance to the professional cleaner and launderer.

BS EN ISO 3175 is the standard for Identification of fabric and garment properties, which can change in cleaning and finishing. This standard is the expectations of dimensional and col-our change in any cleaning, drying, and finishing cycles that can be used by manufacturers as a measure of clean ability and therefore the selection of a suitable care label.

BS EN ISO 3175-4 is the standard for professional wet cleaning. The cleaner should be able to expect garments, that carry a care label, to have been manufactured and tested to the ISO Standard 3175 and that the garment care label is suitable for the garment it is attached to. Dimensional change is some-times progressive and a single process may give little indication of the extent of the change after repeated treatments, but with so many textile items, which includes garments, being made off shore there is a risk that testing is not perhaps as rigorous has it should be and this is why we see many that have care labels attached that are unsuitable and also the problem with many care labels is that they do not cover the entire garment including embellishments and adornments which may have been attached after the basic testing.

Loose colour, and colour bleeding, is another problem that gives cleaners concern and is on the increase because cloth dyers save money by reducing on rinsing out after colour dying.

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WOPCOM Blog: Texprocess 2019: new business models ahead, by Dr. Geert Böttger

Fashion on Demand

Digital is already today the weapon of the future. Enabled by digitalized processes we will see less stocks, more individualization and quicker response to market demand – also in corporate wear and linen services. The supply chain will be able to react much faster and much more differentiated on demand. The technology is partially already available. Since a few years digitalization has become a major topic in garment and textile production. Various conferences and summits have highlighted bits and pieces of hard- and software. Meanwhile solutions are consolidating and densifying to a degree, which will incubate new business models in garments and textiles.

Texprocess 2019 presented a couple of digitally controlled solutions like stitching with simultaneous yarn dying, 3D-design tools, virtual showrooms, raster image processing (RIP), automatic sorting and automatic transportation to assembly etc. The micro factories at Texprocess 2019, which followed the Texprocess microfactory 2017, displayed (a) a fashion line, (b) a technical textile line, (c) a smart textile line and (d) a knitting line. These production lines demonstrated live how their elements form a continous, digitalized process, which needed less than 45 minutes to produce from design to the ready-made product. The variety of production and product types hinted to an even broader range of applications in the future.

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WOPCOM Blog: Huge Potential for ELIS, by Dr. Geert Böttger

ELIS is since some years – at least since 2016/2017, when they started the takeover of Berendsen – the most discussed textile service company in Europe and also in Latin America. The textile service community witnessed an aggressive growth plan, which has been totally out of the scope of medium sized laundries and family run textile service companies. The strategic super merger with Berendsen appeared as a bang, which changed the competitive environment in some markets drastically. and which is embedding the traditional business model of textile service companies into the larger framework of asset management and asset development.

We should not think that the ELIS challenge is now over, and all efforts are only focussed to integrate Berendsen and the other approx. 50 takeovers since 2016. In contrast to the textile service community, ELIS has strong financial genes, which are a permanent driving force for the development of the company. This financial driving force has been and will be exploited for a profitable ELIS development as service company for some time ahead.  The potential is bright (a) in raising profitability of ELIS as a conglomerate of textile service companies, and (b) in improving the value of ELIS or parts of ELIS for private or institutional investors and (c) for share holders.

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