Regardless of their size, all laundries need a continuous flow of information about their operation.

This includes overall areas such as energy use and also the performance of both machines and operatoras well as overall productivity.
Designing a new laundry or updating an existing layout now involves more than selling the latest technology. Suppliers need to know what each customer wants to achieve, how the business will develop, and where it can be made more
cost-effective and efficient.
At Electrolux Professional, Juan Prado Lopez, the global segment manager for commercial (B2B) laundries says that the first step in developing an integrated system is to organise the laundry’s workflow by classifications as each category will require specific processes.
Electrolux will then examine the individual laundry processes of the laundry to see how they can be integrated in a solution that includes machines and software. The company discusses the best procedures, the operator training required and the support needed with each customer. This is part of our "360degree" approach with our customers, he says.
While energy consumption and quality are important factors in designing a system, others must be taken into account. "For example, detergent consumption is almost 50% of the operating costs in a washer-extractor. For that reason, we have developed the ED system, which automatically adjusts the detergent and water consumption according to the linen being processed. Eliminating over-dosing reduces costs and improves quality."
Electrolux adopts a "holistic" approach. "You can not concentrate on one process alone," Prado Lopez explains. "A washer-extractor that is able to manage the small imbalances that appear in every cycle can reduce the energy needed for drying." These factors are strongly influenced by the type of work handled and the laundry set-up.
He says that sales teams now do more than sell machines, they act as consultants, involved in sales, service and marketing from first contact until the machines are replaced.
Collecting data at each stage of the laundry process is very important.
Managing means taking decisions – and laundry managers need to have the right information at the right time. That was why Electrolux developed its Certus Management Information System. CMIS software provides laundry professionals with vital information about their washer-extractors, dryers and ironers. It provides process statistics (running hours, idle time, consumption figures, machine usage and total consumption); process validation; maintenance intervals; and error alerts. All this information can be checked online either while the process is being carried out or afterwards as it is saved in the computer.
Electrolux says that it is essential to work closely with the laundry in developing a suitable workflow solution. "We learn with our customers every day. Their needs and willingness are the starting point for our innovations. We have more than 6,000 contacts with our customers daily worldwide. Being a global company enriches our knowledge and helps us to share best practises with our customers."

Turnkey operation
According to Jensen, more large turnkey laundries have been set-up in the past five years than ever before and projects are becoming more complex in all respects including materials handling.
The significance of operational efficiency continues to increase along with the importance of working with the right partners. In addition to its high-quality laundry equipment that meets high ecological standards, Jensen provides a range of automation tools that help heavy-duty laundries increase revenue.
This means ensuring that the linen is always at the right place, at the right right time to feed the next stage of production.
Jensen says automation should not end with the finishing section. In a completely integrated set-up, automation extends to the interface between folder and packing area.
Jensen describes the Jenway collection and storage system for stacked linen as the smart way to automate production sequences. This freestanding system handles all types of folded linen and the collection system avoids collisions between individual stacks. The stop and start function for each transport and storage section can be controlled individually. It acts in a similar way to a set of traffic signals on a busy crossroad. It is usually installed at the end of the process line and guarantees a maximum flow without involving operators.
Although automation is the key to more productivity, the company recognises that the level of automation will depend on the complexity of the laundry, the work handled the number and range of customers and individual requirement. To this end, it has designed Jenway to encompass three complexity levels – A, entry; B, intermediate; and C for highly complex operations.
The system can be visualised as a whole and, by using Jensen’s Track & Trace system, each item can be tracked precisely and enquiries about delivery answered quickly and accurately.
With the upgrade to a Jenway storage system, linen stacks are not only transported directly from folding to the packing, they are also sorted into correct batches and delivered on special storage belts. This automatic sorting ensures that the linen stacks are prepared correctly and efficiently prior to delivery. "Transport without intervention from a staff member guarantees a constant level of quality, and provides a highly customer-oriented and flexible option for the delivery of stacked linen," says Jensen.

Synchronising data and workflows
Kannegiessers sees a growing demand for complete system solutions, together with the synchronisation of data and material flows.
The company’s Smart Laundry concept could therefore prove a dominant influence in the laundry/textile rental industry’s future.
It combines machine technology, logistics and process technology but at its core is the recognition that laundries can only achieve their maximum productivity if they are designed so that the smooth workflow is accompanied by a relevant flow of data at each stage of production.
This requires automated or semi- automated systems, with interfaces between the individual machines.
At the Clean Show 2015 in Atlanta, the Kannegiesser stand covered all areas of the laundry and emphasised logistics and automation.
The company recognises that the demands of the worldwide industrial laundry markets have developed to fresh levels. According to Kannegiesser’s Matthias Schäfer, a responsible manufacturer needs now
■ to integrate,
■ to communicate,
■ to transfer and
■ to synchronise
the three main basics of industrial laundry: workflow, data and process cost.
He explained that Kannegiesser aims to integrate individual machines into the workflow and provide a steady stream of information, data and also the supporting logistics.
The laundry production control is part of a Kannegiesser monitoring system, which can then show laundry managers the efficiency of their processes. "Laundries worldwide are faced with the same problem – only a part of the available operation time is productive."
The integration of the machine process, the dataflow and the conditions of the operational laundry delivery cannot be seen in independent steps. It must be an integrated operating sequence. "Even the best machine can only deliver its potential productivity if the logistic process including the workflow is also designed as part of a seamless structure," explains Schäfer.
The Smart Laundry is based on the single supplier principle. If all the machines come from one supplier laundries can be sure that each section interfaces with others.
Kannegiesser designs and implements the software that allows this. At the start of the laundry process, the soiled side, Kannegiesser now provides the improved X-Sort garment sorting system. Traditionally in Europe garments are sorted after they have been washed but X-Sort allows garments to be pre-sorted and presented to the wash section in batches and on hangers.
Kannegiesser’s garment processing line handles a complete range of garments – from simple items such as basic scrub shirts and healthcare gowns to more difficult to process garments such as coveralls and protective workwear with reflective coatings.
Once work leaves the washroom it needs to be fed to the dryers efficiently and then buffered and transported to the correct finishing lines.
This process is automatically controlled by the Supertrack system together with a wide range of other transport units like belt conveyor combinations or Kannegiesser’s Aero vacuum transport systems.
Barcodes or chips can be used, although the machines are designed with compatible software interfaces built-in so that the information flow will continue from washroom to Supertrack monorail system and to the finishing section where the Vectura stack management software tracks the folded items through to despatch.
Where work has to be transported between sections by trolley, batches will need to be barcoded and scanners and printers will have to be installed at the relevant areas.
An operator will then scan the batch and print a ticket that then goes with the batch to the ironer line. Here the information is again scanned and the line will call up the correct program for that batch, adjusting the ironer speed where necessary and selecting the right fold format.

Continuing the "smart" theme
The emphasis on "smart" solutions to maximising laundry efficiency and productivity can be expected to be to the fore at Texcare International in June.
Friedrich Eberhard, president of the German Textile Cleaning Association (DTV) predicts that digitalisation will be the future driver of the textile-care industry.
This requires a comprehensively networked data communication system. The technology will allow companies to respond to their customers wishes as specifically as possible. At the same time, the processes involved in the factories will be smarter, more transparent and safer.
"We are just at the beginning of what we can do with the technology that is available to us at the moment," says Eberhard. "If we manage to link all the machines and systems completely and organise the data properly, then, in future, we will be able to meet the needs and requirements of our customers in real time, as we are processing their laundry. "The high density of information can contribute massively to helping people meet the precise requirements of the job.

AN INTEGRATED SYSTEM: Electrolux Professional says the first step is to organise the workflow by linen type because each will require a different treatment. It is important to collect data at each process stage and this French laundry has installed Electrolux’s Certus Management Information System (CMIS) to do this