Vraa Dampvaskeri focuses on innovation and automation

Robot technology, lots of automation and innovative use of all state-of-the-art technology in the market. Those are the ingredients in the recipe, which has secured the family-owned Vraa Dampvaskeri a position as one of the leading industrial laundries in Denmark. The headquarters locates in the northernmost part of Denmark in the town Vrå, but with branches in Aarhus, Fredericia, and Køge, Vraa Dampvaskeri services customers throughout the country as well as northern Germany and the southern part of Sweden.

According to CEO Jørgen Rasmussen, much of the explanation for the success of the company is that since the establishment in 1956, there has always been a strong will to invest in new technologies to make production as efficient as possible.

“Innovation and automation are in our blood at Vraa Dampvaskeri. For example, we have had our clothing tagged with chips since 1991, and in 1997 we took our automated sorting system into use. We have always been looking for improvements to our production line in general and especially in the field of automation,” says Jørgen Rasmussen, who recently invested in an Inwatec system, which will further improve the handling of the dirty laundry.

“The new automation options with a robot and an X-ray scanner have made us able to reduce the number of employees in the soiled site sorting, and it has enabled us to release some hands that we can use for something else. Regardless of how much we have automated over time, we have just become more people – now it’s just some other tasks they perform, “says Jørgen Rasmussen, who runs the family business with his two sons Thomas and Martin Rasmussen as well as daughter Stina Rasmussen who is CSR-manager.

Empty pockets a requirement in the food industry

With the new Inwatec-setup that connects to the existing sorting system, a robot separates the garments piece by piece before an X-ray machine checks for foreign elements hidden in the garments. If anything is found, the garment is automatically rejected for further inspection. This solution contributes to the fact that Vraa Dampvaskeri can also maintain its position as Denmark’s largest supplier of clothing to the food industry.

“We have a lot of customers in the food industry, where there is a strong focus on avoiding foreign objects in the clothes, and in this context, it was obvious for us to invest in an X-ray system that will enable us to meet that demand,” says Jørgen Rasmussen, who also has other gains by avoiding foreign elements in the laundry.

“When using the X-ray solution, we can reduce the administrative costs that come when undiscovered pens and the like ruins clothes. At the same time, it is important for our working environment to minimize the contact with the laundry, “explains the director about the solution.

 

Future solutions require data

Jørgen Rasmussen and his sons in Vraa Dampvaskeri are far from finished with the development. One of the next steps will be to utilize the possibilities for tracking the individual piece of laundry.

“Recently, we have started working on UHF-chipping the garments, which we do to get as much data as we can in the clothes cycle, and because it helps us to keep track of our inventory. This way we only need to invest in what we need,” says Jørgen Rasmussen, who see that the tracking gives further economic opportunities.

“Concerning the economy, collection and use of data is also an important part of the future laundry. When we make agreements with the customers that they should roll down the sleeves and empty their pockets, it is not always they remember it. When we track the individual piece of clothing, we can detect who’s forgetting this and, for example, send them a message that they’ll have to do better if they don’t want to pay for this service,” Jørgen Rasmussen adds.

The family behind Vraa Dampvaskeri: Martin, Stina, Thomas and Jørgen Rasmussen

Interested in the X-ray machine? Find more information about the ‘ODIN’ here

Fully automatic sorting of Soiled Workwear

Inwatec's sorting lines are build to fulfill each customers' needs. Thanks to modular design, the single machines can be added to a whole system according to specific wishes. In this case, the requested line consists of a Robot Separator, an X-ray machine and a vision based sorting system. 

The robot is fed by a conveyor and performs a separation of the garments. These separated garments are directly transferred to the X-ray machine, which detects foreign items like pens and scissors in the garment and automatically rejects these clothing items.

Accepted garments are forwarded to a vision based sorting, which, in this special case, sorts into either bright or dark.


Watch the full setup here:

The system's main components:

The Robot Separator has a high efficiency in separating textiles. It works fully automatic and therefore reduces the risk of cuts and needle injuries for your staff. We use modern 3D cameras and advanced software to find the best gripping points on the garments. 

All details about the Robot Separator. 

Inwatec's X-ray machine automatically detects foreign items such as pens, needles, lipsticks and more. It can handle up to 2,200 items per hour and rejects garments which contain foreign items. These rejected garments are forwarded to a special bin, where the detected foreign items can be removed from the garment's pockets.

Find more information on the X-ray Machine here.


You would like to automate soiled side sorting processes in your laundry as well? Contact us!

Easy and efficient management of stacked linen

Storage of clean linen between machinery and logistical areas has to be planned and thought-out well. Folded linen have to be parked before getting transported to the logistical areas. Using space efficiently while having a high input and output of stacks are highly demanded features for an innovative solution.

Inwatec aims to drive forward the automation of processes within laundries. Finding an efficient way to store linen was a challenge to be solved.

Inwatec’s linen stack storage meets the requirements to buffer cleaned linen after folding the textiles and before shipping them back to the customer. Time-consuming manual trolley handling can be replaced.


Check out the product details of the Stack Storage System.


The system consists of multiple conveyors that transport clean, stacked laundry items to the linen stack storage. The system handles about 225 stacks per hour. According to individual needs the input and output can be adjusted.

The stacks are automatically buffered and distributed on the integrated conveyors and shelves. The Stack Storage System offers a fully automatic storage and transportation of stacked laundry items. In total, it provides an easy and efficient management of clean, stacked laundry items.


Watch our Stack Storage System in action:


You would like to know more about our Stack Storage System? Contact us!

MåtteXpressen: Investments were necessary to continue growth

Find the detailed interview and videos of the setup at MåtteXpressen at the end of this article.

CEO Benjamin Rasmussen

In the late autumn 2017, the Danish Mat Service-company MåtteXpressen in the town of Køge made a complete renewal of the production. The former equipment was changed with a brand-new and highly automated production line.

The reason for this move was simple: Big success from the sales department forced CEO Benjamin Rasmussen to take a close look at the machinery.

“After 14 years of constant growth, we reached a maximum for our production, so we had to think in new solutions. We were working 24 hours a day and four days a week, one day with two shifts and then we had weekend work. There was no way to continue our growth if we did not start thinking about solutions where we could make it more efficient and wash more in less time,” Benjamin Rasmussen tells of the thoughts he had before investing in his new setup.

Tripled production volume per hour

“When we washed with the old system, we had two employees on our laundry side at a time. They worked both with in-sorting, sorting and rolling the mats. They washed about 500-600 kilos per hour, today we also have two employees on the team, but they can handle 1500-1600 kilos per hour,” Benjamin Rasmussen explains.

“That means that we wash around three times as many kilos of mats with the same labour. In that way, instead of producing 24 hours a day, we can do it within eight hours. Because of that, we could save two-thirds of our staff on the laundry side.”

The new system includes an Inwatec setup with an Inlet Buffer and a Mat Carousel that buffers the mats on the dirty and the clean site respectively, and finally, MåtteXpressen has a Hurricane Mat Roller with a sorting system added for the finishing of the mats before they are placed in the storage.

The Inlet Buffer for Mat Laundry helps to sort mats by e.g. material, such as nylon and cotton. The buffer can store up to 16 wash batches of soiled mats of each 100 kg.

Fast amortization and new growth perspectives

In total, the entire process is now run by two persons at a time, and Benjamin Rasmussen is sure that the investment will make new growth possible and payback in a short time span.

“We have cautiously calculated that we have a payback time of eight years, but I'm sure it's a little faster. We have set the payback relative to the current turnover, and as we expect a growth of 4-5 percent a year, we will have faster payback time,” he reckons.

The savings are found in gas, electricity and water because of the shortened work day, and as savings on the crew.

“We have had to say goodbye to some of our laundry staff, which can, of course, be a challenge, but those still here are looking forward to the fact that they do not have as many wearying procedures anymore. I can’t see the effect yet, but I'm sure we do not need the same replacements in our staff as we have it less laborious work today," Benjamin Rasmussen tells.


Watch the full interview with MåtteXpressen's CEO Benjamin Rasmussen:

The complete setup at the mat laundry MåtteXpressen:

Introduction to the Inlet Buffer for Mat Laundry and its functions:


View product details on the various parts of MåtteXpressen's production line:

Inlet Buffer for Mat Laundry - Mat Carousel - Hurricane Mat Roller - Mat Sorting Conveyor - Mat Trolley

No more washing machines damaged by nails at Liebhardt

Nails, screws, and tools have caused considerable damage to the washing machines in the German laundry Textilservice Liebhardt GmbH & Co. KG, Biberach in the past years. The investment in an Inwatec X-ray system dramatically changed that, and recently, Liebhardt’s machine was upgraded with new AI software to further reduce the error rate.

For managing director Eva Löffelhardt, there is no doubt that future laundry needs an increased degree of automation to keep pace with the market and to ensure the best working conditions for the employees.

“We have 85 employees in the company, and our primary focus is on workwear, blue and white workwear, but we also serve hotels and health clinics. New technology like Inwatec’s X-ray machine, helps our company to be competitive on the market,” explains Eva Löffelhardt. “By investing further in new technology, we expect the work to be easier for our employees, while continuing to deliver high quality to our customers.”

Since 2015, Eva Löffelhardt has been running the family business, founded in 1936, and is sure that the laundries of the future will change a lot: “The laundry industry desperately needs innovation. We can achieve that with modern and innovative robot solutions.The industry has been very reluctant so far.”

Eva Löffelhardt especially welcomes the fact that the loose screws, nails and tools hidden in the pockets no longer stop their washing machines. In addition, the garments can not be made unusable due to forgotten ball-point pens anymore. Equally valuable is the fact that the working conditions of the employees of the family business have improved:

“I also think a lot about the health of the employees. There are many repetitive movements in a laundry, and I have been incredibly happy to lessen these tasks. Employees are also unconditionally excited about the new technology, and they are proud to be in a company investing in modern technology. I do not doubt that the future offers solutions and opportunities that I have never thought about.”


Interested in the X-Ray Machine Liebhardt uses? Find details here.

Textilservice Liebhardt welcomes the future (video)

Nails, screws, and tools have caused considerable damage to the washing machines in the German laundry Textilservice Liebhardt GmbH & Co. KG, Biberach in the past years. The investment in an Inwatec X-ray system dramatically changed that, and recently, Liebhardt’s machine was upgraded with new AI software to further reduce the error rate.


Interested in the X-Ray Machine Liebhardt uses? Find details here.

Automation without RFID

At Inwatec, this year has begun with emphatic pace. Orders are being placed in a healthy tempo, and we are working on exciting projects.

One of the lastest projects that has been shipped is a mat rolling machine with sorting function (6 to 8 categories) which went to Norway:

 

View from the side with integrable conveyors 

 

With hopes of a great year to come, we wish you all the best!