The productivity of a laundry depends on unbroken process flows and transparent commodity streams. The solutions required for automation in the sector are therefore a high priority at Texcare International, which takes place from 20 to 24 June in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The focus will be very much on artificial intelligence and smart information systems, which will help maximise the degree of automation within the sector.
The be-all and end-all for the laundry sector is the ability to monitor the quantity, quality and storage location of the textiles that are circulating on site, at all times.
The data collected form the basis for precise price calculations, throw up any weak points in the system and serve to provide documentation for third parties. But it is only when all the machinery and plant involved in a given textile service are interlinked on a single network that the logistics of the laundry service run seamlessly, with minimal down-time of the machinery, reduced quantities in circulation and the resultant increase in productivity that is closely associated with it. Areas of interest include:
- Transparent tracking for each individual laundry item
Automation in the processing of workwear is already well advanced. As the dirty laundry is sorted on arrival, each item is recorded using an identification system such as a barcode or RFID technology. From this moment on, all the stages that the textiles undergo are controlled.
- Robots for the soiled laundry area
This already high degree of automation in a workwear laundry facility is, however, capable of still further refinement. Artificial intelligence can simplify the ‘dirty’ work in the reception area: robots separate and sort the soiled clothing and x-ray machines, cameras and metal detectors are used to identify any foreign bodies.
- Real-time laundry processes
Whilst individual control and traceability are already widespread in the professional treatment of work apparel, when it comes to flat linen, often only generalisations about quantity, quality and storage location for the textiles are possible. “In order to assess a business’s efficiency, calculate prices and efficiently control processes and procedures, laundries need reliable figures [...],” says Martin Rauch, CSO of the Jensen Group, who operate on a worldwide basis
- Data accompanies the laundry throughout
“Trolleys of laundry standing around, waiting times at the machines, excessive buffering and time spent searching for items are all lost capital [...],” says Matthias Scha¨fer, product manager, Laundry Logistics/Smart Laundry at Kannegiesser
- Smart to the very end of the chain
Further potential for automation resides in the picking and packaging. With intelligent storage facilities and transport solutions, smart stacking management and the networking of equipment with the laundry’s information system, order picking becomes simpler, quicker and more reliable.
- User friendly apps
Digital developments are not only large scale: they are to be found on a smaller scale as well. In heavily used laundry facilities, they can take on the entire job of time management, as Andreas Barduna, head of business management at Miele Professional is very aware.
The full comments by Martin Rauch, Matthias Scha¨fer, and Andreas Barduna can be found online at: