Using the proper mixture of additives such as detergent and sizing is one of the key factors in achieving high quality dry cleaning. By using detergents properly you can expect to remove water soluble soils, eliminate static, reduce linting and keep insoluble soils in suspension preventing redeposition. Fabric finish will help to provide the dimensional stability of the garments, make pressing easier and prevent wrinkling during handling of the finished garments.
Process design parameters should be the deciding factor when choosing the type of detergent that you use, with distillation rates being one of the main concerns. With less filteration and higher distillation rates you will almost certainly want to be using a load process detergent. Conversely, with a greater amount of filtration and lower distillation rates, a charge type detergent will offer excellent results and would be my preferred choice. For proper control of the additives when using a load process detergent, you will really want to automate the introduction of them into the machine at the proper point in the machines programming and in the proper amounts, so an additive dispensing unit is a necessity. By automating this process you can ensure that you will receive a high level of cleaning quality on a consistent basis.
While there are a great number of dry cleaning plants that introduce their additives manually, there are an even greater number that use process additive equipment (similar to the picture above) or OEM type dosing units that are available on most machines. Which brings me to the subject I am posting about. Do you check the operation of these dispensing units as a part of your regular weekly maintenance?
Quite often I will be at a dry cleaning plant and notice that the additives pumps are not working properly and have to wonder how long has the operator been doing dry cleaning without detergent. In a recent stop at a dry cleaning plant I got into a conversation about their boiler and type of compound they were using in it. The plant manager told me what she was using and mentioned that she didn't think it was pumping properly though, as the pail had not gone down any in almost a year. I took a look at it and sure enough the pinch tube on the additives pump had collapsed and boiler compound was not being added. In 5 minutes I had repaired the pump and hopefully gained a new customer from it.
There is a very simple way to make checking the dispensing unit a part of your weekly maintenance. It only takes 30 seconds and the only tool you will need is a marking pen.
Simple mark the level of product in the drum and date it. The next week, do it again and each week from then on. You will know exactly how much product you are using and whether the pump is indeed working properly.
If things do not appear to be working as they should, a quick call to your distributor sales rep or your manufacturer's rep should be all that is needed. Problems that occur with this type of equipment can usually be solved very easily, often with nothing more than a slight adjustment to the pump or change of the pinch tubes.