Keeping on track

13 March 2020

The use of RFID to aid linen rental operations and customers keep on top of costs is becoming more common across all sectors

A RFID solution from deister electronic is smoothing the way for healthcare establishments as Martin Hartwigsen, international business development manger at the desiter electronic explains: “Some hospitals all around Europe decide to use smart cabinets or room based solution for managing scrubs and workwear. We see a big change from systems with high cost for maintenance like conveyor solutions to automatic RFID solutions.”

In Venne, Niedersachsen, Germany, Ulrike Caselato’s nursing home workwear management is now being helped by RFID technology from deister electronic where founder and owner Ulrike Caselato says: “Clothing is like a calling card for us. It contributes to our reputation. Patients and relatives pay close attention when it comes to service quality and professionalism. Having a well-groomed appearance is very important today for care givers.”

Caselato relies on manageable processes and controllable quality for cleaning. She prefers small, local laundries instead of well-known large service providers but admits there have almost always been problems with the laundry inventory. “A certain turnover in staff is normal in our profession,” says Caselato, “and in the past the workwear sometimes left the company with the employee. Some team members probably also washed their workwear at home, which of course is not allowed for hygienic reasons. It was nearly impossible to prevent this because the workwear could not be clearly assigned to the respective employee in organisational terms. Once a year or so I had to buy workwear again – more often than would have been expected under normal and intended use. It was a complex and unfortunately also expensive problem.”

Intelligent laundry distribution and return cabinets from the deister electronic texCabinet series (see illustration) were installed in two care facilities. Each piece of clothing from the Caselato Care Team is now equipped with a robust UHF RFID transponder, allowing it to be assigned to the respective wearer in the laundrymanagement system. Every employee has to register with their personal contactless ID card before taking out the workwear to open the distribution cabinet and to register exactly what has been taken out. The return station for used workwear is also equipped with a UHF reader that can identify which clothing is currently being used by which employee? what is currently in the cleaning cycle? Which caregiver last wore damaged clothing? Who ‘hoards or even steals workwear? Has a departing employee also returned everything? Which clothing is used how often? What quantities and combinations are really needed? All questions that the system can find answers via its ongoing realtime inventory. So what about other sectors?

In the UK, Elis, a firm RFID champion, according to a recent report in The Caterer, the trade journal and website for the UK hospitality industry, has recently picked up a contract with pub giant Mitchells & Butlers that covers the supply and processing of more than 375,000 items including table, bed and chefs whites/kitchen linen to its more than 800 sites along with the capacity to deliver new stock in a three-week window. Elis will the company via its own 43 plants across the country using a fleet of more than 670 vehicles. All the items are tracked via RFID enabling Elis to have full visibility of their usage and location and providing better stock control.

Meanwhile, Socom tells LCNi about the experience of Ronny Fraiman, managing director of Fraimans Tvätteri & Bemanning AB, and why he chose Socom’s TIKOS solution. “I want a complete overview of my laundry. How much of which part of my inventory do I have and where is my laundry currently in transit,” he says. The Swedish textile care company has fitted almost every single piece of laundry with a chip. Labelling linen and managing linen data with the help of powerful ERP software and with the help of the TIKOS RFID modules, every piece of laundry is thus recorded at the goods-in and documented in TIKOS. In connection with the storage management module and the integrated ordering system, a complete overview of all areas in the laundry is provided.

“Especially in the restaurant business we were able to achieve considerable benefits by scanning in the goods-in and goods-out. We now know where our laundry is. The stock and the costs could thus be reduced. Not to forget the competent consulting of the SoCom team which enables us to use TIKOS absolutely as needed,” says Fraiman.

As we head towards Texcare 2020, expect to see and hear a lot more about automated systems that incorporate RFID technology fulfilling the promise from the show organisers that that newest of new laundry technology will be heavily featured.

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