Providing data – management decisions

27 March 2018

To improve the way a laundry is managed, it is important to have a continuous flow of information about the organisation, including areas such as energy consumption, machine and operator. Tony Vince reports

Internal logistics and controls systems are concerned with ensuring a smooth workflow around the laundry. Laundry managers must constantly make decisions both on day-to-day basis and in the longer term. Daily decisions might include which customers’ orders or which type of work needs to take priority to achieve that day’s targets or identifying machine faults so immediate action can be taken.

These priorities may change periodically so that decisions are needed on matters such as the allocation of staff, or on which machines to use for particular categories,

A key theme for the large-volume laundries is the integration of the whole production line – sorting, washroom, extraction and drying. State-of the art control that can provide almost limitless flexibility and an easy-to-use display is important. Data management, troubleshooting and networking capabilities have become indispensable on the newest controls.

As LCN editor Kathy Bowry reported from Clean 2017, integrated laundries are the way forward according the major laundry equipment manufacturers and the technology to drive this on has taken great leaps in the past few years.

For Kannegiesser in Germany, the demand for complete system solutions, together with the synchronization of data and material flow, is a growing requirement for textile service providers. At last September’s Texcare Asia show, held in Shanghai, Kannegiesser of Germany demonstrated how it was taking logistics a stage further by highlighting the importance of accompanying the smooth flow of work through all laundry stages with the relevant information, so that both batches and individual items can be tracked at all stages. The Kannegiesser stand showcased its integrated laundry management software and automated total laundry systems.


Automated process technologies

Milena Vogt, assistant to director of project engineering, says: “Utilisation of automated process technologies and hygiene aspects are of great importance to the professional laundry companies in Asia. We appreciate the growing interests in automated laundry solutions in recent years.”

In the US, Kannegiesser USA and ETECH are now Kannegiesser ETECH. The theme of its stand at Clean Show last year was ‘Smart Laundry.’  The ETECH product line of eRail Monorail and conveyor solutions as well as its eVue Software was on display. The focus was on ‘Integrated Solutions’ showing customers the possibilities for a more organised packing area.

This included a buffer feeding system designed for processing hotel sheets.  The ergonomic feed system or ‘Synchro Remote’ displayed an efficiency of labour reduction with the ability to achieve the same productivity with one less operator.

Improvements to the programming side of the XFM Speedline folder has increased staff productivity by as much as 30% over earlier machine designs, says the company, while its Vectura Stack Management System collects and organises the folded stacks coming from the ironer lines or dry folding machines. Items on the smart conveyor belt system are automatically tracked and identified by both article and customer while bringing them to a central point in the dispatch area.

Information is vital, says Jack Vermeulen at Gotli Labs, specialists in industrial production management reporting. In 2016, ABS Laundry Business Solutions and the Jensen-Group joined forces by forming a new company Gotli Labs AG with the aim of consolidating the data management in heavy-duty laundries.

Both companies previously offered similar applications for productivity management. Jensen Cockpit and the Production Information Management System (PIMS) by ABS are now merged into one new product: Globe – Gotli Labs’ Operational Business Expert. Globe offers data recording, production visualisation as well as time recording and planning.

The system can manage all resources in a laundry, including machinery, utilities, energy as well as staff. All software has been designed so that the values of consumption-recording devices such as power and gas counters can be collected and transferred to the Globe central management system. All recorded data is then evaluated and prepared as different statistics. Energy use can be evaluated per machine or even per kilogram.

During 2017 three projects in Belgium and the UK were installed, with another three underway in Norway, China and the USA. “These are all projects with the complete functionality of Globe, all information for staff management, production, logistics and reporting is including the Business Intelligence dashboards.”

Another three projects are planned for the first quarter of 2018 in the UK, Canada and the USA.

Globe has the ability to integrate directly with laundry equipment, says Vermeulen. “Official agreements are now in place with manufacturers including Jensen, so we can get data directly from their machines. More partnerships are planned for the coming year.” Globe can be installed in different ways based on best practice, taking into account how machines are installed at the site and based on the preference of the customer.

The server can be installed in the cloud, on a corporate server or at each location. “We remain focused on collecting data directly from each machine, so no additional equipment for data collection is required. If this is not possible for any reason we will use IoT (Internet of Things) devices to collect data wirelessly.”

Gotli recently developed Business Intelligence (BI) dashboards with real time information, so laundry managers are continuously informed during the day about the current status.

Real time efficiency displays employee efficiency during the day in combination with:

  • Machine down time (reason, how often, how long)
  • Work spot changes
  • Customer changes

Real time master info per machine

  • Quantity processed
  • Hours spent
  • Quantity per hour
  • Last hour trend
  • Compared with machine standard
  • Compared with progress last 7 weeks (same week day)

Real time availability per machine

  • Hours in operation
  • Number of events and hours downtime (machine error)
  • Number of events and hours stand-by (no materials)

Beside these real time dashboards there are new dashboards with historical data and trends suitable for benchmarking and analysis to improve processes:

Employee efficiency

Day and Week efficiency

Efficiency trends

Overall Equipmenteffectiveness

Staff planning

Revenue per man hour


Interest and demand for Globe is growing around the world “as we are fast becoming the market leader”, says Vermeulen. “Gotli Labs is investing to ensure we supply a first class product to all our customers and continually develop Globe to be future proof.” The company expanded its development team with a further nine employees this year.

The first UK installations have only recently been completed and now we are starting to collect data to show in the Business Intelligence (BI) reporting tool, Vermeulen explains. As historical data grows, trends and patterns will start to become visible and commercial decisions will be taken based on facts.

“At Clova in Belgium we completed the total installation more as six months ago. The company is using Globe as an integrated management tool and recently they informed us that they have changed processes based on the information collated by Globe.” The changes had a positive effect on production figures, which showed a significant improvement.

Clova is using the staff management function of Globe to schedule their employees – from 800 hours per day to 720 hours per day by just watching their planning. Based on employee contracts entered in Globe and using the time and attendance function they are able to transfer data from Globe into their salary system.

In the flatwork plant, data is collected from all machines (from various suppliers). Based on this data the efficiency is presented at the shop floor to all employees.

At the nursing and elderly home plant, data is imported (scanned items) for soil receiving from their ERP system ABSSolute to show the efficiency per employee and the total performance of the department. Finally, in the packing department, clients items are sent to folding tables via a Metricon system. Data is collected from the Metricon system. “Supervisors use real time efficiency dashboards shown on tablets to discuss performance every two hours with employees where needed.”

Also at Texcare Asia was Girbau of Spain and its subsidiary Girbau Shenguang Laundry Technology (Shanghai). One area of interest was GirbauMax, a virtual reality app enabling customers to design their own laundry and then take a virtual tour of it. This gives them a realistic idea of how the project will look, allowing them to give feedback in real time so that it can be completed by creating just the installation the customer is aiming at.

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.

Girbau Group and Lavatec Laundry Technology have an international collaboration agreement that enables both companies to take advantage of the manufacturing capabilities of their counterpart.

Girbau Industrial collaborated with Lavatec on two industrial laundry projects for NOVO Health Services in the US. The two plants, located in Atlanta, Georgia and Nashville, Tennessee feature Girbau Industrial open-pocket washers, feeders, ironers and folders, as well as Lavatec tunnel systems.

Each facility operates with a Lavatec 14-module, 132lb tunnel and a LP-series extraction press. Additional support comes through on the back end with both running five TT-series dryers and 120 employees, who service 14 hospitals and 24 healthcare clinics in the Atlanta and Nashville marketplaces. The Atlanta plant is larger at 62,000 square-feet compared to 44,000 square-feet, despite the Nashville operation extending their reach east to Chattanooga and the I-65 corridor north into southern Kentucky.


Strategic partnership

Novo Health Services president and CEO Karl Fillip, a healthcare linens veteran who is familiar with Lavatec equipment, says: “Lavatec has been very strategic in helping our startup go from nothing to 14 million pounds of laundry a year. They trained our team during the equipment and software installation, and they continue to train and audit performance to help us reach our targeted throughput.”

“Their tunnels, presses and dryers provide us with unparalleled value. Parts are quick to get and from tech to corporate support, it has been a phenomenal relationship.”

Fillip says the audit reports to achieve desired productivity levels were born early in the relationship. Some members of the Novo team were invited to visit the Lavatec factory in Germany to observe the equipment’s construction phase.

“We watched the assembly to get a better understanding about how each piece of equipment was built. As far as productivity, during the audit reviews we are trying to increase our rate of transfers from 25 or 27 an hour.

“We’d like to optimise the machine and get to 30 per hour so we can match the performance warranties this equipment is capable of reaching.”

Vice president Greg Cox points out that the amount of training provided at installation time allowed Novo Health Services’ staff to hit the ground running.

“There was quite a bit of training involved. Some of our folks got to work directly besides Lavatec’s team during installation of the whole process,” says Cox. “Another group of Lavatec’s came in to install the software and again, our team was able to participate, understand and learn. Since then, there have been ongoing training sessions where their technicians work with our people.”

The regular training sessions are proving to be extremely beneficial. “They usually come in once a month. Our team receives additional training and we get the opportunity to expand our knowledge. Lavatec audits the machines to make sure there are no issues and that usually takes a day or two. It isn’t downtime, it’s just to see how the dryer codes are working, if the timing is working properly, and how we can increase efficiency now that our volume levels are stable.

“Lavatec’s team looks at everything – product efficiency through the tunnel, the dryer times, back to the shuttle transfers – and following up with two days of intensive training for our people at both plants. That includes classroom instruction and on the job with the equipment.

“All of this was extremely important to us. Being a startup, many of our staff did not have a ton of experience with both laundry and tunnel system maintenance. So it has been really helpful with that extra layer of support.

“And if there is a little quirk here in between we can’t figure out, our people will pick up the phone and call them. It is a phenomenal and outstanding relationship.”



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