80 years and still going strong!

22 Jun 2018

An important anniversary for the Quality Certification Mark for Professional Textile Services

BÖNNIGHEIM (ivs) People who are 80 years old are often said to have reached old age. This is far from the case for the Quality Certification Mark for Professional Textile Services: it can look back over 80 successful years and has not lost any of its edge during this time. The German Certification Association for Professional Textile Services, which - due to pre-war tensions and the chaos of war - was established later as the responsible body for the Quality Certification Mark, has been tirelessly committed to protecting goods and quality in the field of textile services for 65 years.

“The constant focus on advancement without forgetting traditional roots is characteristic of the German Certification Association for Professional Textile Services” notes Prof. Dr. Josef Kurz, Deputy Director of Hohenstein, the scientific partner of the Certification Association. As Director and Scientific Manager of the Textile Cleaning and Industrial Laundries department at the Bönnigheim site, Josef Kurz has devoted himself to the challenges of the textile service industry for many years. He was also employed as the Managing Director of the German Certification Association for Professional Textile Services from 1989 to 2006.

Quality Certification Mark for Professional Textile Services - The Early Days

The initiative for a certification association “for Professional Textile Services” was started back in 1935 by the laundry operator Willy Löcher from Cologne. However, at the start, not everyone was keen on the idea of setting up a certification association for a service. Until this point there were only certification associations for goods. Kurz describes the turbulent early days “Willy Löcher fought for his ideals and advertised the new certification association through presentations and meetings. Finally, the majority of laundry operators backed his idea: the German Certification Association for Professional Textile Services was then officially set up in 1938.”

In the wake of the economic wonder, the industrial laundries in Germany had already relatively quickly achieved a high level of technology by the start of the 1950s. Innovative products with the same level of quality could in turn be supplied by the supply industry. “Thus in 1953 the way was paved for the foundation of a new Certification Association for Professional Textile Services for which Willy Löcher had again taken the initiative.” continues Kurz. The “Quality Mark for Professional Textile Services” was officially recognised by the “RAL committee for terms of delivery and quality assurance in the German standardisation committee” on 24 February 1953. “The laundry owners showed great interest in the concept of having their own quality certification mark. By the end of 1953, an impressive number of 40 laundries were already allowed to carry the quality mark.”

Quality Mark for Professional Textile Services - A Success Story

The story did not end here – over time the Certification Association responded to demands and set standards for quality and hygiene in the industry.

RAL-GZ 992/1 for Commercial Linen – since 1953

When the Quality Certification Mark for Professional Textile Services was introduced in 1953, commercial laundries had been dealing almost exclusively with household linen. Business with moist linen only began to decline in the mid-1960s when domestic washing machines began their triumphal march. A new market then opened up to RAL certified laundries based on an American model: rental line in the commercial sectors.

RAL-GZ 992/2 for Healthcare Linen – since 1986

In the mid-1970s, hospitals gradually started closing down their own laundries and gave the linen to commercial laundries for disinfection and washing. But in the commercial sector too, stricter hygiene standards had to be introduced to produce hygienically sound linen and also to protect laundry personnel against possible infections from soiled linen.

RAL-GZ 992/3 for Linen from Food Processing Businesses – since 1999

Stricter hygiene requirements for washed linen did not stop with healthcare linen. New hygienic standards were also created in the food industry, not least due to the introduction of the HACCP concept (hazard analysis and critical control points). This resulted in specific hygiene requirements for the clothing of employees in food processing businesses.

RAL-GZ 992/4 for Clothing for Care Home Residents – since 2011

Another area for improved hygiene developed from the demographic change in the population: more and more people are spending part of their retirement years in care homes. This also requires their personal linen to be processed in line with hygienic standards.

Quality Mark for Professional Textile Services - International Reputation

Even though the Quality Certification Marks 992 were initially only intended for German laundries, they have now been established in other countries as well. Today, the quality mark is held by numerous commercial laundries in Switzerland, Austria, France, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Turkey, Japan and Dubai. Hohenstein carries out external checks in these countries following exactly the same criteria as in Germany.

Quality Certification Mark for Professional Textile Services – New Momentum

With the recent change of managing directors, the course has been set for a timely strategic development of the German Certification Association. The new senior management structure with Dr. Timo Hammer as the Managing Director and Andreas Janning as the Deputy Managing Director has set itself the goal of promoting, in equal measure, the competitiveness, efficiency and sustainability of the RAL certified laundries. This and other topics from the industry will also be covered in the conference of the German Certification Association for Professional Textile Services which will take place in Kassel from 25 to 27 October 2018. Interested members and supporting members can now register for this event. The detailed programme and registration form can be found at www.waeschereien.de.