Inwatec at Texcare International

Thanks to all the visitors at Texcare International 2016 for making this exhibition great!

 

Inwatec is waiting for you at the Texcare International 2016 in Frankfurt, Germany

Texcare

We hope to see you at the Inwatec stand D43 in hall 8

At Inwatec we hope to meet a lot of interesting exhibitors and curious guests from all parts of the laundry industry. We wish to show off some of our new development and construction of high-quality equipment for industrial laundries. It is our primary goal to develop innovative solutions improving efficiency and productivity.

At this years Texcare, we have a showcase of three machines at the fair, and we look forward to tell you all about them:

On all three days you have the possibility to:

  • See the Vortex – Return-to-operator mat roller with the efficiency of rolling 250 mats/hour
  • See the Inwatec X-Ray machine that gives you the solution for efficient and high-quality detection of foreign elements for your laundry
  • With the help of our sorting machine, manual sorting of laundry is a thing of the past
  • Talk face-to-face with our team about our products and your laundry
  • Visit a team focused on automated and innovative solutions

Do you need a ticket for the fair? Contact Sophie Ingemann Aagaard: +45 2683 0911, mail: sia@inwatec.dk

Texcare plays an extremely important role for us as we introduce our innovative machines to a wide audience here. Germany is one of our most important markets, even though we sell our machines worldwide successfully.

We develop individual, customized solutions and we would like to help make your laundry more efficient.





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Sustainability is worth every penny

Nor Tekstils Ove Belsvik in front of an Inwatec machine

The future of the laundry industry is about sustainability and robots. The industry’s largest players focus increasingly on how to improve their processes; both to make sure that not more laundry is washed than necessary, and to use as little staff as possible.

“Besides the obvious fact that we can save a number of employees that do hard work, there is the environmental component. The textiles are significantly more durable when we reduce the number of error washes. The production of cotton has a large economic impact, therefore it is essential that we can use the clothes until they are worn out instead of replacing 80 kg because of an overlooked pen in a pocket,” says Ove Belsvik, director of Norway’s dominant laundry player, Nor Tekstil.

To reduce the wastage, Nor Tekstil has invested in an X-ray machine from the Danish company Inwatec. After a successful test period, Nor Tekstil made the decision to further invest in the technology.

“Inwatecs X-ray machine solves a problem that the big companies of the laundry industry can’t handle on their own, and this problem is that you cannot avoid that people make mistakes. A large part of savings of the X-ray machines stems from the fact that we don’t have to buy new fabrics to the same extent as we had to do before. On our machine in Drammen, which has been running for six months now, the system has been working smoothly, and that’s why we are buying the second machine now,” says Ove Belsvik.

Ove Belsviks observations are supported by his German colleague Florian Hünke von Podewils from CWS Boco.  At his company, it has been noted that qualified staff is relatively hard to find. Moreover, these employees are expensive and, lastly, there is always the challenge that people over time cannot avoid making mistakes in sorting when the speed increases and the work is conducted in multiple shifts.

“The problem with the small garment lines emerges in the sorting, where a lot of the information is necessarily stored in the brains of those people that sort the clothes. It may be that there are 10 different blue T-shirts, but maybe there are five different kinds of material, because the shirts stem from different customers, and so it is important that the staff is trained to sort in the right way,” says Florian Hünke von Podewils, who contacted Inwatec for this reason; to develop a machine that both scans and sorts the laundry.

Less laundry – higher revenue

At Nor Tekstil, Ove Belsviks is easily reminded of the extent of possible errors that can appear at a laundry, and if he should be in doubt, he can get tangible proof of the value of the sorting system every time he is in Drammen.

“We can see in the boxes under the machine that the detection rate of the X-ray machine is high and although, of course, some things still slip through sometimes this happens on a completely different level than before. This certainty makes a big financial difference for us because when a washing is being destroyed by a pen or something, it’s not just the 70-80 kg of clothes that have to be replaced. It also costs a lot of money in the administration, labeling and so on,” states Ove Belsvik.

In Germany, CWS Boco also expects a quick return on investment:

“With the sorting machine you get a relatively easy integrable product. The X-ray and sorting machines serve for quality assurance in the processes, therefore the system is foolproof. The machines are not over engineered, they do not use too much floor space, and they are not particularly expensive to run. There are many good value creating reasons to invest in the X-ray sorting,” states Florian Hünke von Podewils.




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We make unique machines with standard components

Claes StanleyWhen your company invests in a machine from Inwatec, you can rest assured, that we have had daily maintenance on top of our mind when we designed it.

The philosophy at Inwatec is that if something breaks then, our costumers should be able quickly to replace the broken part – no matter if they live next door in Denmark or they have a laundry in Shanghai, China, or Saskatoon, Canada. That’s why Inwatec machines are built with standard components that are available all over the world.

“Apart from the steel chassis and the software, everything essential part can be required easily. Whether it’s a touch panel, the rollers in the mat machine, a conveyor belt or a simple bolt, our costumers can find the item number written in the technical specifications for the device,” tells chief engineer Claes Stanley from Inwatec.

Engineered with maintenance in mind
The simplicity is an important part of the systems and the availability of the parts is researched before the first prototype is built. Everything piece is ISO-certified and when the parts are upgraded – for instance when computers get faster and better, the technical descriptions are updated so the customer can buy the best suitable replacement.

“At Inwatec we want to make sure that our costumers always have machines that are running at maximum efficiency, and we do not lock them into our system. We can supply the spare parts of course, but if anyone wants to buy elsewhere, they are free to do so,” underlines Claes Stanley.

He adds that not only are the spare parts easy to acquire. The engineering team also have simplicity in mind when choosing how to disassemble and rebuild the machines.

“At our workshop it is essential to the building speed that we can do with relatively few and simple tools, and of course, it is the same when the product is delivered. That’s why our machines can be fixed with simple hand tools, and only a small tool box is required to do 90 percent of the work,” says Claes Stanley.




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Inwatec strengthens Project Team

Christian-Bagge-til-webWe’re still very busy at our headquarters at Inwatec and therefore we’re hiring. The most recent of our new members is project engineer Christian Bagge, 23.

Christian will mainly work with Construction of machines in SolidWork, Project Execution, Project Management, Product Development and Preparation of technical documentation.

Christians to-do list also includes the contact to customers and suppliers so many of you will talk to him in person.

The new team member had his first day in the office May, 2nd.

The recruitment process has been very exciting with 70 applicants from around the world who all had an interesting profile and could be relevant as project engineers in Inwatecs team.

To be frontrunners to attract the strongest candidates as employees, Inwatec has been present the recent months at the University of Southern Denmark. Both engineers and academics go through their education here, and Inwatec sees these as the future.

The university’s efforts to promote cooperation between students and companies has given Inwatec the opportunity to get out and meet many different professional groups in all stages of their education. Some are looking for their first job as a newly qualified, while others are looking for a student job or an internship. Inwatec can offer it all for the right candidate.


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Exciting Visit From the Mayor of Odense

Inwatec, Egatec and Flex Fertilizer Systems was honored by the visit of Odense Mayor Anker Boye the 4th. April. At Inwatec we are thrilled of the city support, it’s great that politicians are aware of us. We share the same values ​​about creating some highly skilled jobs in robotics, which can strengthen the community.

Anker Boye has also found the visit interesting . You can read his facebook update here: 

Inwatec strengthens sales team

FinnOur recent success has driven to making some adjustments regarding our staff members and their work tasks in order to support our existing and future customers as well as possible.

This applies in particular to 29-year-old Finn Hahn who is now primarily responsible for our German sales division.

Since the start of his employment with Inwatec in October, Finn Hahn has worked both in product development and in the technical sales team, but in the future he will primarily take responsibility for the sales support in the growing German market.

”It is really exciting because I am working with a lot of small and large customers. It is exciting to see how different companies approach different challenges. Regarding our future product development this is of great value for us when it comes to improve our products,” states Finn Hahn who strongly expects that he can help to ensure the close link between sales and customer contact.

”I reckon that in the future, I will still be partly involved in the construction and product development. In the office in Odense, I can come up with interesting input from our customers and when I am with them in the field, I am glad to give them an advantage with my specialist knowledge: I have a focus on what can be done and what cannot. That allows us to come up with a realistic solution more quickly,” explains Finn Hahn.

Finn was born and raised in Flensburg in Northern Germany while he did his M.Sc.Eng Product Development & Innovation studies at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) in Odense.

 

Invitation to LCT CleanEx Exhibition in Ascot, UK, 24-25 April 2016

CleanEx InvitationInwatec is represented at the LCT CleanEx Exhibition at the Ascot Racecourse 24-25 April, and we are proud to
invite you to this exhibition.

At our stand we wish to tell you all about our X-ray machine with the latest X-ray technology to
detects foreign elements in laundry articles before they can do damage in the washing process. The
highly efficient machine can handle up to 2,800 items per hour.

Rejected laundry items are automatically sorted out to a reject bin. Our system is able to detect and
accept buttons, zippers and RFID transponders, which ensures a low error rate.

The automatic sorting function allows sorting the laundry items that were accepted by the X-ray
machine based on RFID chips or manual. Every sorting process is registered by the report function.

Our sales team Mads Andresen and Finn Hahn look forward to talk about our new products for
sorting laundry articles.

If you are interested in tickets for the event, please contact sia@inwatec.dk. Tickets will be distributed on a first come basis.

We hope to see you in Ascot at our stand.

Smart machines improve CWS Boco’s business

The German laundry group CWS Boco visited Inwatec in Odense, Denmark, in order to find out how the company can improve their processes and make them more effective.

The software is just as important as the rest of the machines when a laundry has to work in an optimal way across different garment lines. This is the opinion of Florian Hünke von Podewils who is a manager of the German laundry group CWS Boco. For this reason, he appreciates the cooperation with Inwatec even though the company is only one of CWS Boco’s smaller suppliers.

“Aside from the machines there is another reason why Inwatec is a really exciting company to work with, which is the software implemented in the machines. Data and data transport are two of the most important matters that modern companies have to have under control. Inwatec’s solutions works in combination with all the other equipment that is on the market, which makes it extremely easy to connect them to our other systems,” says Florian Hünke von Podewils. He adds:

“Inwatec does not only focus on their own machines. They make their machines extra smart because they think about how these can work in combination with other devices when they are set up. At Inwatec, they are not just engineers, they are much more than that.”

Moving quickly from thought to action

CWS Boco operate their business in 18 European countries plus China and the 8.000-employee company has inherently the industry’s biggest players among their suppliers. Nevertheless, Florian Hünke von Podewils is convinced that there is still room for smaller suppliers. This applies, in particular, if the efficiency of the company’s 45 laundries can be improved.

“From our perspective, Inwatec is clearly a business partner instead of just being a regular supplier. They have chosen to focus on niche products, such as mat rollers. These products might not be interesting enough for the major suppliers because they are not expensive enough but they are still important machines for us. This is the reason why Inwatec is doing good and wise business,” states Florian Hünke von Podewils.

“It is a good idea to take a look at those solutions that can make the existing lines smarter and faster. This is what we need. Inwatec is a company that can react quicker to demands from outside because of its relatively small size.”

The future lies in smarter sorting

According to Florian Hünke von Podewils, the improvement of laundry machines is mandatory for the industry in order to still generate profit, which is becoming harder and harder.

“There are basically two ways to build up a laundry if it has to be economically viable. Either you can automate as much as possible with sorting machines, folding robots and such, or you can take the more manual approach, which means to compress the laundry as much as possible. In the ladder case, you have to get hold of small machines, no conveyor belts or something like that. You will have clothes dryers where the clothes get folded directly next to the machine when they leave it,” says the CWS Boco manager before he states that also the compressed solution requires smart machines in order to avoid human error:

“The problem with the small garment lines emerges in the sorting, where a lot of information is necessarily stored in the brains of those people that sort the clothes. It may be that there are 10 different blue T-shirts but maybe there are also five different kinds of material because the shirts stem from different customers, therefore it is important that the staff is trained to sort it always in the right way. If we take the example of a very large laundry where the work is run in three shifts, you have the obvious risk that two talented people work in two shifts, and in the third shift, you have someone who is unfortunate enough to ruin everything.”

Supercomputers help to make Inwatec’s X-ray machine even smarter

Tudor MorarForgotten pens and needles are among the costliest challenges in the laundry industry worldwide. Pens destroy a lot of laundry while needles pose a major security risk to employees. X-ray technology is one part of the solution, especially when the machines are able to analyze the images on their own.

At Inwatec, a team of programmers is working hard every day to solve problems that one can literally find in the pockets of the clothes that pass through the washing process. One of these people is Tudor Morar, a young Romanian-born robot engineer who joined the team when he invented the basis for the solution that is now running on all of Inwatec’s X-ray machines during a single weekend in 2015.

“Normally you would make the X-ray system search for dark spots in the pictures but that doesn’t work well enough with plastic parts. Therefore, we have developed our own algorithms. I can’t reveal business secrets but I can say that the novelty resides mainly in the fact that we consider the shape of objects instead of their material,” says Tudor who gets very excited when speaking about the many challenges of analyzing garments that he and his colleagues face.

“Garments are a big challenge because you won’t find two X-ray images that are alike. The seams always look differently and there are all kinds of buttons and zippers one has to take into account. The current technology is really good when it comes to sorting garments such as hospital clothes. However, with heavy fabrics, there comes the challenge. With these, the machines make errors too often.  While the machine is supposed to let zippers and large buttons pass, it is expected to reject screws and small nuts,” says Tudor.

Massive computing power available

One part of the solution to the problem are better algorithms that are able to spot the foreign elements. Another important aspect is artificial intelligence (AI) that can help the human operators with making the right choices.

“One of the biggest challenges regarding the X-ray sorting is that it cannot look for foreign elements too thoroughly. If we make it too sensitive, clothes with many creases get rejected. On the other hand, if it is not sensitive enough, needles and pens slip through and end up in the washing,” explains Tudor Morar who has written all of Inwatec’s programs from the scratch and therefore knows how to assist the computers during the process.

“The solution is to teach the computer how to spot foreign objects on their own. Therefore, we started using AI. We have just started to rent some Amazon servers optimized for computations in order to be able to work with larger amounts of data. To give a rough estimate, the processor cores of Amazon’s servers are 64-times more powerful than our computers, but it is mainly the graphics processing unit that is much more powerful than anything we had available before,” explains the Romanian programmer. He and his team are, however, not even closely challenging the full capacities of these supercomputers.

“Fortunately, we have a great collaboration with our customers who are, of course, also interested in continuously improving our software. That’s why we have received plenty of real images from our customers in Norway, Germany, and the Netherlands. I think we are talking about 15,000 images that we have to analyze. Theoretically, the machine could sort one million images a day but there is an important obstacle: We have to sort the images first into two groups, reject or pass, which has to be done manually,” says Tudor Morar.

Computers have to learn how to think by themselves

At Inwatec, we have better jobs for the programmers than using their working time for manually feeding computers with images. For this purpose, Tudor Morar and his colleagues embarked upon a very ambitious plan:

“We are using deep learning algorithms that are designed to function like neurons in the human brain. That way, the computer is able to learn by itself without anybody having to take care of it during the whole time,” says Tudor who together with programmer Martin Bulin already are in full swing of training his electronic ‘students’.

“The AI needs a fairly precise description of what it should look for. The more we can specify it, the better the results will be. Not everything works equally well but there are patterns in the images that can be detected and then be used in the deep learning process in order to improve the results. This is what we are very interested in when teaching the X-ray machines how to work,” says Tudor.




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Inwatec increases the efficiency of Norway’s leading laundries

Nor Tekstil is Norway’s dominant player in the laundry industry. The company serve a significant share of Norwegian hotels hospitals and nursing homes, as well as a large number of customers in the offshore industry and other firms in the industrial sector.

The company is constantly evolving to maintain its market leader position. Inwatec came into play as a part of this process. What started as a small relationship has become an important collaboration over time.

“We started with some mat rolling some years ago when Mads Andresen convinced me that it was a good idea and profitable solution. At Nor Tekstil we believe that the machines should have a payback time of less than three years to be a good solution for us. In fact, it was already the case after less than two years, so he was right and we purchased some more of them,” says the director of development, Ove Belsvik, who is also co-owner of Nor Tekstil.

Ove Belsvik has just visited Inwatec at Hvidkærvej in Odense to inspect the latest purchase: An X-ray machine to be installed at Nor Tekstil’s high-tech laundry in Trondheim for reducing the cost for replacing garments. He already knows that the machine will be a success because Nor Tekstil already has a similar machine in operation.

“Inwatecs X-ray machine solves a problem that the big companies of the laundry industry can’t handle on their own, and this problem is that you cannot avoid people making mistakes. A large part of savings of the X-ray machines is because we don’t have to buy new fabrics to the same extent as we had to do before. On our machine in Drammen, which has been running for six months now, the system has worked quite smoothly, and that’s why we buy machine number two now,” says Ove Belsvik and elaborates:

“We can see in the boxes under the machine that the detection rate of the X-ray machine is high and although, of course, some things still slip through sometimes this happens on a completely different level than before. This security makes a big financial difference for us, because when a washing is being destroyed by a pen or something, it’s not just the 70-80 kg clothes to be replaced. It also costs a lot of money in the administration, labeling and so on.”

Huge development potential

Nor Tekstil operates 16 laundries throughout most of Norway and Ove Belsvik expects that the collaboration between Inwatec and Nor Tekstil has great potential in the long term.

“We work together with some of the world’s largest laundry-manufacturers, and we are investing in the most advanced equipment on the market. Inwatec helps to close a large part of the gaps that are still in the processes. Put simply, they solve our problems, and from this perspective, Inwatec is a small but important partner,” says Ove Belsvik who focus on weeding out the physically demanding and manpower-intensive processes, because labor is in short supply in Norway.

“For me it’s important that I know Mads Andresen as well as I do. We have done many things together, and I know that when we have agreed on that a robot must pick 2,000 pieces of clothing per hour, it can do so when it’s delivered. I also know that Inwatec develops specifically for our needs and challenges, which makes it easier to invest in new machinery. It matters to our customers that we are willing to invest, so of course it means also something to us that Inwatec invests in our challenges,” says Ove Belsvik, who predicts that there will be a great development in the machinery of the laundry industry in the upcoming years.

“Our assessment is that there is going to happen a lot regarding the machines for washing processes in the next five years. The washing and drying of clothes is well under control, but there is room for much more automation in logistics and packaging.”