All together, now

24 January 2024

The latest sophisticated software combined with modern machinery has opened up a whole new world of systems integration for large laundry operations

Advances in technology are happening at a breath-taking pace and laundries are not being left behind. However, there is still an erroneous perception among the general public that laundries are full of vats of boiling water and lots of steam and suds. The reality is very far from that.

Just one year ago, the many seemingly unsurmountable problems facing the industry post-Covid, knock-on effects from the Ukraine war and climate change could actually be the catalyst for change for the better, said Kannegiesser. Now, as 2024 kicks off, we have moved on from the worst of the pandemic but the rest of that statement remains on point and, adding on the problems of labour shortages, finding ways to seamlessly integrate systems has to be a priority.

Of course, RFID has a big part to play in integrated systems, along with AI and robotisation. In Europe and the USA RFID is used widely in linen rental businesses across all disciplines. In the UK not so much. Some laundries and hotels might want to protect high-end linen from theft but in healthcare it is struggling to take off. There a couple of good reasons why this might be – except for scrubs, which must be completely sterile and are outsourced or washed in hospital laundries under strict guidelines - NHS uniforms are taken home to be washed. Not ideal and the Textile Services Association (TSA) is campaigning hard to turn this around. it is currently involved in research with De Montfort University in the UK which is almost certain to show that domestic washing machines are not up to the job. The second reason, according to a comment by a member of the UK Society of Hospital Linen Suppliers and Laundry Managers (SHLSLM) could well be that “we know stuff is going missing, and how, and we don’t need to spend a load of money we haven’t got proving something we already know”.

Bundle administers a wide range of systems

When it comes to laundry management software, John C Lee – sales and services manager, UK & Ireland for Bundle Laundry, a global supplier, explains how his company’s software brings together three packages to ensure best efficiencies and high productivity.

He explains that Bundle Connect is a best-in-class laundry management system designed to administer a wide range of processes quickly, efficiently and accurately. The platform is based on cloud technology so it’s available from anywhere and from any device, all with the assurance that it is automatically backed up and secure.

Bundle Track uses UHF RFID technology to provide textile rental companies, healthcare service providers, and workwear firms with up-to-date information on the life and location of textile inventory. “You will know where your textiles are with the touch of a button, helping you to optimise textile inventory and deliver operational productivity gains,” says Lee.

Bundle Worx is a real-time production management system that targets a laundry’s largest costs – labour, equipment and utilities, and allows management to deliver a more productive and efficient process.

Pure genius as Jensen and Inwatec innovate together

Just recently, Mads Andresen, selfconfessed laundry nerd and founder and CEO of Inwatec ApS recently became the appointed, annointed visionary force behind Jensen Group’s innovation journey. As chief innovation officer and member of the executive management team, Andresen will oversee advancements in all Jensen- Group’s cutting-edge technologies.

His mission is to seamlessly integrate robotics and machine learning into the DNA of the Jensen-Group. The ultimate goal is to establish Jensen as industry leader in sustainable solutions and the effective capture and utilisation of data, benefiting customers and internal operations. Of course, AI is the epitome of software management solutions developments.

Andresen, a prominent figure in the field, is the founder and CEO of Inwatec ApS, the celebrated #laundrynerds from Odense, Denmark. “His remarkable team has already left a mark on the laundry industry by introducing ground-breaking robotics and AI into the soil sort area. Their innovative leap has elevated our entire industry to new heights, and we are eagerly anticipating even more ground-breaking developments in the future,” said Jensen.

Inwatec #laundrynerds and Jensen’s established laundry experts collaborate closely and this inspiring crossfertilisation of ideas, technological and engineering know-howhas resulted in profitable solutions like robotic sorting in conjunction with the Futurail bag storage system.

Another offspring is GeniusFlow: Using the information collected from tag reading in Inwatec’s automatic soiled side sorting solution, Jensen Metricon Software combines various customers and routes into lots and sub-lots and then allocates the exact space needed in the primary storage.

This reduces the need for extra rails and prevents a high recycling rate which decreases sorter efficiency. The interface allows a simpler management of garment batches and reduces the number of late garments to be processed manually.

Lavatec’s os-Laundry solution focuses on efficiency goals

Lavatec has been busy putting its integrated solution to work in the United States. When Southern Oregon Linen Service (SOLS) installed new Lavatec equipment in early 2022, it represented a concerted effort to address current and future water and energy considerations driven by climate change impacting the western United States. Original projected savings have been exceeded with an assist from Lavatec’s osLaundry management system, which keeps them focused on their efficiency goals.

SOLS provides cooperative laundry services for nine Oregon hospitals and one assisted living facility within a 300-mile radius of White City, Oregon. A custom-built 132-pound capacity, 14-compartment continuous tunnel washer was installed along with an LP572 40-bar press, six TT-745 dryers with 292-pound capacity, and a Shuttle system.

Lavatec’s osLaundry system monitors washer, dryer and press performance with a computer dashboard that provides instant, real-time production data on run times, temperature settings, bottlenecks and more. It’s adding up to tremendous time, energy and labour savings.

“This is one of Lavatec’s best features of the tunnel system. At times I have been at home and help our engineers with troubleshooting because I can log in anywhere and use the system remotely,” says Antonio Casillas, SOL’S general manager.

He says the combination of new equipment and the management system allowed the plant to reduce operating time from five, 15-18 hour days to the current 15-hour, four-days-a-week schedule.

“Compared to our last washer, our plant efficiency improved by 23% on the production side just by output in pounds and decreased run time. All of our utilities experienced savings,” he indicates, pointing out how osLaundry helps manage operations.

“Since we are not a fully automated facility, we have unique processes that at times create inefficiencies if they are not being monitored. The osLaundry system has detailed reporting tools so I can pull live productivity reports and make any necessary changes to have an efficient day. For example, we identified a situation where we experienced loss loads because our operators were taking too long to load a washer.”

SOLS originally experienced water savings of 30,000 gallons per day with the new equipment. With osLaundry and by adding an OMNI system to the tunnel washer, the savings have increased to 40,000 gallons each day.

In 2022, SOLS produced seven million pounds of laundry. With a fourth quarter run on elective surgeries and a spike in flu cases increasing hospital bed totals, their volume exceeded 10 million pounds in 2023.

Mads Andresen

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