Washing machine is an important household need. Be it removing that small ink blotch fallen over the new T-shirt or be it that large duvet getting stained/dusted for prolonged usage, you’ll need a washing machine to clean them all. Though the nascent concept of washing machines started in the eighteenth century, there has been a constant upgrade over washing machine design and functionality. Modern day washers especially the newly released models in 2017 are armed with useful features and functionalities. From semi-automatic to fully automatic, from top loaders to front loaders, there has been a gradual improvement in the washing machine technology. So, the latest line-up of washing machines is not just capable of cleaning garments, bed sheets from the stubborn stains but also smart enough to keep them fresh and soft after the wash.
Key Washing Machine Technologies
Double up your Load with TwinWash and Flexwash
Though while opting for fully automatic washing machine you might be confused between a front and top loaders. But Samsung has managed to come up with a path breaking hybrid design, taking the best of two in one washer—FlexWash.
Flexwash is arguably the most revolutionary washing machine design. This hybrid design offers the flexibility of using both types load in the same machine. It has a main front loader machine with mammoth 21 Kg capacity, further complimented by a miniature top loader with a compact capacity of 3.5 Kg. Thus, the front loader of this machine can be used to wash heavy laundry items like blankets, curtains. While top loader can be utilized for lite loads like socks, lingerie, handkerchiefs etc.
LG too has a similar concept of “dual load” in its latest range—TwinWash. TwinWash provides two separate drums for washing. There is one main wash drum which is then complimented by a mini version of it placed below the main drum. The main drum comes with gigantic 20 Kg capacity, generally used for cleaning heavily soiled clothes. Whereas the mini section below it is designed for the delicate cloth wash like inner garments, scarf, handkerchiefs etc.
Cleaning with Bubbles using EcoBubble and O2 wash
Companies like Samsung and IFB have developed the technology to harness the power of bubbles to provide fine cleaning without damaging the fabric. Samsung washer uses EcoBubble technology to unlock the power of bubbles to give effective cleaning. That too, at lower temperatures. Realizing Indian household typically use cold water for laundry purpose, Samsung brought this technology to help in achieving powerful wash even with cold water. The main principle of this technology is that it converts the detergent particles into bubbles which get inflated around the clothes, penetrating inside the fabric to remove adamant dirt easily.
Similarly, IFB uses something called O2 wash, wherein washer generates millions of air bubbles penetrating deep into the fabric, in a bid to remove stubborn dirt.
6 Motion DD and WaveMotion to Achieve Gamut of Cleaning Styles
Washing machine manufacturers have explored various wash motion and come up with technologies to best use this motion as per the fabric requirement.
LG’s 6 Motion DD technology is one of such technology providing optimized motion combination for each fabric type. LG’s premium range models possess 6-Motion technology which has a capacity to replicate 6 different wash motions:
Whirlpool uses SoftMove technology in its latest line-up of front loaders. SoftMove smartly senses load in the drum. It then acts upon it using adaptive programs and drum movements soothing individual need based on fabric type. Here is the short list of various motion wash designed for different fabric type:
- Energetic wash
- Soft cradle
- Power shower
- Slow motion
- Air bubble Wash
- 360° Wash
- Cradle Wash
- O2 Wash
- Steam Wash
Improved Drum Technology
Manufacturers are striving hard to design a drum which protects the tender laundry at every turn of the drum.
Samsung has worked in this direction for its latest top loaders using Diamond Drum. In these washers, holes are roughly 25% smaller. Also, holes are also located deep within each diamond-shaped depression to avert the clothes under the drum from sticking out and consequently being damaged. Embossed washboard is accompanied too in such washers to minimize the textile area exposed to harmful effects of washing. It’s small water exit holes prevent clothes from becoming trapped, thus protects the fabric’s longevity.
Bosch’s new models come with VarioDrum technology. What this technology does is, as the drum spins in one direction, flat side of the attached paddle cleans the loaded clothes; and then when it spins on the other side, steep side of paddle delivers profound cleaning with the help of its wave-droplet design.
On the similar line as VarioDrum, Siemens washer uses waveDrum to clean the laundry with extreme care. Just like VarioDrum they too have wave pattern design with flat and steep sides to provide a complementing wash.
SuperSoak and BubbleSoak to Soak it Better
Whirlpool and Samsung have developed specialized technology for doing the soaking task in a laundry. BubbleSoak technology by Samsung helps in removing dirty grime by thoroughly soaking clothes in bubbles with just a press of a button. This technique doesn’t get too hard on the fabric as bubble are soft by nature which won’t damage the fabric. Likewise, Whirlpool’s SuperSoak technology ensures removal of tough stains and dirt by activating incessant soaking and scrubbing motion.
Samsung has improved it drum technology with the purpose to sanitize the drum so that harmful allergens are obliterated. Samsung has come up with Eco Drum Cleaning technology which automatically removes the residue in the diaphragm through drum sanitization. Drum sanitization is done using hot water and powerful jet streams.
This treated water also revives the effectiveness of detergent for cleaning.
Washing Machines with built-in Heaters
New and premium washing machines nowadays typically come equipped with heaters and automatic temperature control using attached sensors.
Premium front loaders from Samsung come equipped with ceramic heaters that prevent built-up of the stubborn calcium compound. Ceramic heaters are effective against calcium built up, thanks to its quick-heating capability. This not only resists calcium build-up but also brings down the energy consumption.
Whirlpool presently holds the merit of being the only manufacturer providing a heater for top loaders too in the Indian market. The in-built heater is capable of heating up water up to 60°C. They ensure removal of adamant stains.
Quieter Washers with VRT+ and AntiVibration Technology
Whirring and vibration are the problem which consumers usually face while using a washing machine. Thus, the manufacturers are working hard in this area to control vibrations, thereby ensuring noise levels are kept bare minimum.
Samsung efforts in this area are executed with the introduction VRT+ technology in its latest line-up. VRT+ stands for Vibration Reduction Technology Plus, an improved version of VRT technology. VRT+ technology is quite useful for noise-sensitive light sleepers. VRT+ technology tries to keep the noise level at the lowest levels and washer balance stable.
Bosch washing machines are designed with AntiVibration technology to mitigate vibrations occurring during the spin cycle. It counteracts the vibrations by employing high-tech sensors. These sensors maintain the load balance by continually adjusting the drum motion.
Battling the Hard Problem of Hard Water
The hard water problem is common in various places across India. Noida is one of the big city facing this problem. Besides the ill health impact that hard water causes, it is also hazardous to the washer. It becomes difficult to dissolve the detergent in hard water if used in the washer. Also, white layers of residues accumulate around the drum and the supply pipe, ultimately choking them. To tackle this challenge arising out of the hard water, manufacturers like IFB, Whirlpool, Maytag have come up with hard water treatment technology in their newer models.
The latest generation of IFB washers is armed with Aqua Energie technology to convert hard water to soft. Models equipped with this technology have a built-in Aqua filter which breaks down the bicarbonates in hard water into fine crystals. Due to very small size of this generated crystals, they are easily removed alongside the flow of water. Thus, this way it mitigates the risk of scale accumulating on critical machine parts and subsequently getting choked.
To tackle challenges arising out of hard water Whirlpool has Hard Water option for its new semi-automatic machine series like Ace. This unique Hard Water wash option helps in achieving better dirt cleaning even when the supplied water is hard.
Similarly, Maytag’s new series of front loaders have the ability to adjust its performance to the hardness of water. This improves cleaning performance for those with hard water problems.
Auto Dispenser to Solve Dilemma of Correct Detergent Quantity
It’s always a tough call to decide right amount of detergent for the laundry. Now, if too much of detergent is used, it will not only deplete the stock of detergent faster but would also increase the water intake. And now if too little detergent is used, then it would cause its own complications. Besides downgrading the washing performance, paltry detergent quantity can cause discolouration and lead to unpleasant odour. To counter this predicament of deciding correct detergent intake, consumer electronics manufacturers like Whirlpool and Bosch have provided an option of auto detergent in their high-end washers.
A new breed of Whirlpool front loaders is equipped with Auto Detergent Dosage. When enabled, this technology cleverly determines the optimum quantity of detergent based on the amount of load and degree of soiling in the clothes.
Just like Whirlpool, Bosch premium washers use iDOS technology in its Series 6 and 8 washing machines. Based on the hardness of water and quantum of soiling in the clothes, iDOS cleverly determines the optimum quantity of detergent for the immaculate wash.
Digital Inverter and Direct Drive to Increase Efficiency
Washing manufacturer’s R&D department is striving hard to improve the design and thereby the efficiency of a washing machine. The result is improved hardware in the form of direct drive and digital inverter.
Ordinary washing machine has a fixed-speed motor operation which attains peak efficiency only at full loads. With technological innovation, manufacturers have now designed newer models with digital inverter technology. What happens with this inverter technology is that motor in the washers are able to detect the amount of load. Based on the quantity of load, the motor operates at the optimum speed. In short, with this technology motors are capable of running at variable speed.
High-end front loaders from Samsung comes with Digital Inverter technology. Here, the speed of the motor is adjusted in accordance with the load. Brushless digital inverter motor used in these Samsung washing machines runs much cooler. Samsung also provides 10 years of warranty on these motors.
Another hardware design which is common across the washing machines is the use of numerous moving parts like gears and belts alongside the motor. This arrangement is inefficient because a considerable amount of energy is lost in the form of friction in this running gearbox arrangement. To overcome these inefficiencies, manufacturers have brought in the concept of Direct Drive technology. In Direct Drive technology, the motor is directly attached to the drum without the use of mechanical moving parts like pulley and belt. This results in truncated series of mechanical parts dissipating lesser energy, thus cutting down the electricity consumption. Although this combination makes motor bit bulkier, their efficiency is substantially improved.
LG’s latest premium series washing machines are equipped with both technologies—Digital Inverter and Direct Drive. With this arrangement, LG washers are not only energy efficient but also emanate lesser noise and have a better life.
A new breed of Siemens washing machine is armed with a more intelligent iQDrive motor. This is a frictionless magnetic motor much quieter, quicker and efficient than the previous generation of motors. Siemens believes iQDrive would save more than 33% energy than ordinary motors used in other washing machines.
Smart Control using Apps and Sensors
After TVs, even washing machines are becoming smarter. Manufacturers are now bringing washer’s control and diagnosis capability using the mobile application.
LG’s smart washing machines are armed with NFC tags for diagnosis and monitoring purpose. The basic concept of this technology is when a user presses the button on the washer, smartphone having Smart Diagnosis app installed, would listen to the tone transmission, and warns if there is some issue with the washing machine. It will also try to detect the actual issue by analyzing and recording those special tones. Once detection is complete it will instantly provide troubleshooting steps to get the problem fixed.
Premium WiFi-enabled washing machines from Samsung, allows users to control their washer using smartphone via Smart Control app. Using this app, a user can remotely control their washing machine using a smartphone. It also notifies the user with the status of the washer, whether it has a problem and the actions required to solve it, on the smart phone itself
There has been a significant change in the customer profile of the washing machine industry in India in recent times. Washing machines are no longer considered just as luxury appliances. They are rather becoming an essential need of households. With the increased income levels, more people have dispensable income to buy appliances like washing machines. Companies are pitching their products to attract sales from these customers and provide them with technologically advanced washing machines. Modern washers can remove a variety of stains and grimes, using efficient designs like direct drive and variable frequency motor. Improved design also helps in reducing the emitted noise levels. All these are achieved keeping the electricity, water and detergent consumption on a lower side. Then there is complete path breaking washers like TwinWash and FlexWash which helps users to double up and segregate their laundry load. Modern washing machines from certain manufacturers are also protected from vagaries of electrical surges and pestering of rodents.
About the Author:
Hussain Kanchwala is an Electronics Engineer from University of Mumbai. As an Analyst at BijliBachao he keeps a tab on latest technologies in gadgets and appliances, tracks businesses of white goods companies and monitors the consumer behavior. With a background in engineering, penchant for detail, and flair for writing he regularly write reviews about brands and their products. More from this author.