Optimisation of the ironing line was carried out in two countries: the ironing unit was optimised by Girbau Spain, and optimisation of the other 3 units was performed in France. In both cases, Girbau was able to rely on the unconditional support of SMC.
Girbau, a world leader in comprehensive professional laundry solutions renowned worldwide for its firm commitment to innovation, energy efficiency and sustainability, has collaborated with the industrial supply company SMC in optimising the energy efficiency of its ironing lines.
These lines consist of 4 units: a front feeder that leads to the ironing unit, followed by the folder and stacker. These lines, which may measure as much as 15 metres long and 4 metres wide, are able to iron and fold up to 1,200 articles per hour.
The ironing unit is based on a rigid steel bed which is heated internally, on which a perforated roller with a textile coating turns. The turning of the roller slides the item being ironed over the interior face of the bed, and the item is dried and ironed due to evaporation of the water in the linen as a result of the temperature of the bed and the pressure that the roller exerts on it. Process optimisation was therefore based on introducing 6 pressure levels in the ironing rollers. Applying the correct pressure on each fabric guarantees customers that the various items will suffer less, thus increasing the quality of their finish. Moreover, in energy terms this translates into a reduction in consumption of up to 30%.
Large pneumatic actuators were installed in the flatwork ironer, capable of handling heavy loads up to as much as 2,400 kg and ensuring correct movement of the item through the different modules as the residual humidity is eliminated until it is perfectly ironed.
The installation of proportional valves in the ITV series guarantees control of the force exerted. The proportional valves are part of a customised electro-pneumatic module that was developed and assembled by SIMA (an SMC distributor and integrator). Together with the ITVs, 5-way solenoid valves, a digital pressure switch and a 3-way solenoid valve are assembled in accordance with ISO13849-1. The basic function of this assembly is to automatically control the pressure that the roller exerts on the linen, depending on the type and thickness of the item to be ironed; the proportional valve regulates the pressure, depending on whether greater or lesser resistance is exerted as the item passes through. It also includes a safety system so that roller maintenance stoppages can be performed safely.
Developing a line with 4 units involves a large number of automated tasks, and it is essential to simplify the development and installation processes. These improvements were mainly carried out inFrance. SMC thus designed 20 different modules to cover all the line’s requirements. These control panels, designed to Girbau's specifications, simply need to be configured and are then ready to be connected to the ironing unit. Delivering customised models that are ready to connect greatly simplifies their installation by reducing assembly costs and minimising the risk of failure, since SMC tests all of the modules before delivery. This aids purchasing processes since each module has a unique reference number.
SMC also collaborated on improving existing lines in order to reduce energy consumption.. Sensors were fitted that detected the lines with the greatest consumption, resulting in an improvement in the folding process.. This air flow system used on this module to fold sheets was replaced with a mechanised system.
"At SMC we are able to design, produce and assemble the cylinders in Europe; this is a great advantage, since we can supply Girbau with a tailored solution with a short delivery time. That is part of our ongoing commitment to being close to and supporting customers,"- Albert Albó, SMC's technical advisor
The modular ironing machines for drying and ironing (heaters) handle fabrics of many different kinds, from napkins to tablecloths and duvet covers, and therefore the wide variety of these fabrics made it necessary to redesign the heater in order to ensure the best result with any type of item. To this end, this optimisation has been very well received by Girbau's customers and has allowed the company to improve its ironing products and services by offering a better treatment for fabrics, an increase in ironing process cycles for linen, a reduction in costs deriving from an energy saving of up to 30% and an improvement in maintenance work for end users.
"The results obtained have been palpable to our customers right from the start. The most visible aspect is the better treatment of the fabric and the increase in linen ironing processing cycles. However, optimising the pressure produced another set of benefits such as cost reduction arising from electricity savings of up to 30% and a reduction of up to 25% in air consumption."- Quim Riera, the product manager for ironing equipment at Girbau.