Huebsch wants the best service for their customers

Jim Vaudreuil – President and CEO at Huebsch Services

In the 126-year-old company Huebsch Services, located in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, USA, ongoing efforts are being made to update the processes to ensure satisfied customers. In this interest, President and CEO Jim Vaudreuil visited Inwatec in Denmark.

“I think the technology is accelerating and creating a lot of opportunities. I see a lot of the problems that we face today can be solved with the technology that’s available: The UHF RF-chips are promising. I’m looking at one of the new mat rollers that we already have, and we’re going to be modifying it with UHF readers so that we can do additional sorting,” Jim Vaudreuil says.

Huebsch Services already uses tracking in several ways, and for that reason, the implementation of an advanced chip reader-system is high on the priority list:

“We track every garment as a unique asset. We use the chip to keep track of our inventory; we use it to ensure the quality that we’re promising. Is the customer getting exactly what they’re supposed to get, and when? And it helps us keep track of our costs,” he explains.

 

Jim Vaudreuil with their HURRICANE mat roller

Continuously aiming for improvements

Even though Huebsch Services has a long history and a lot of clients going decades back in time, Jim Vaudreuil is sure that it is necessary to always keep an eye on the development of the machines used in the production.

“We like to think of ourselves as innovators. I’m not sure that we really are, as much as that we’re never happy with what we have, and we know that we could improve, so we’re continuously trying to improve. I think the innovation is using technologies that are available, and it’s how we use it.  Almost all the technologies could be had by every one of our competitors, so it’s how do you use it that gives you the competitive advantage,” he continues.

Huebsch Services takes great care of having a high service level, and that is why Jim Vaudreuil visited Denmark; In search of the best ways to support the customers varying needs.

“I think we have certain advantages; we’re a smaller company; we’re very hands-on, and we do most of our development work. I think we have an advantage in that. We’re maybe a little bit closer to the customer and closer to their problem. The company of the future has to be specialised, and I think it has to embrace some of the technologies. That’s why I am here. We’ve been partnering with Inwatec in I don’t know how many years. We really like the Inwatec products, and we are able to partner with a company that’s really leading in the technology – and so what if we’re you know a 10-hour flight away,” he smiles.

Watch the full interview with Jim Vaudreuil:

Find more information on Inwatec’s machines for mat handling here.

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.

Mat laundry Leko Matter continues to focus on automation

The Norwegian company Leko Matter, based in Oslo, decided to automate its mat laundry as much as possible in 2015. The result is a production where one employee alone handles 3.6 tons of mats each day. The mats are washed, rolled and sorted for about 3,000 customers.

“In the past, our drivers helped for more or less one hour to roll the mats. Luckily there’s no need for this anymore. The truck drivers deliver the dirty mats directly on a conveyor belt. Hence everything proceeds automatically from the washing and drying until the rolling of mats on our Inwatec Hurricane machine,” says Bjørn Leine, son of Leko Matters founder Bergtor Leine, and thus the second generation in the family business, founded in 1989.

Bjørn Leine has not doubt that the automation has been a success for Leko Matter, and for the same reason, the company is now thinking about further expansion of the system. “Our system can sort by six criteria, but we are in dialogue with Inwatec to invest in an additional sorting module so we can sort the mats into nine carts at a time,” says Bjørn Leine about the solution he and his colleagues have done in collaboration with Inwatec.

“The alternative had been to employ more people to keep up with the growth. Instead, we are saving a full-time job now, and I assess that the investment has paid back within two years,” Bjørn Leine continues.

Innovative partnership

“The projects we have with Leko Matter over the years gave us a lot of beneficial knowledge of the mat handling business and our company’s relationship has been a success from the very beginning”, Claes Stanley, Chief Technology Officer at Inwatec explains. “Leko Matter came to us with some specific requests”, says Claes Stanley. “Together we developed a modular sorting system that fits into their setup, and at the same time allows their business to grow even bigger.”

Emphasis on efficiency

“Leko Matter had a keen eye for the efficiency from the very beginning, and we are happy, that we have been able to meet their requests with our machines. Their setup is almost entirely automated. Only one person is needed to place the mats at the Hurricane Matroller. This process also allows to include a quality control of the washed mats,” Claes Stanley adds.

Where the original setup at Leko Matter allowed the Norwegian company to sort in six criteria, there is no upper limit on the number of how many sorting modules can be added. In the same way, it is possible to add RFID-scanner and a mat binding system to the mat rolling machine. “Today we have customers with similar setups all over Europe, in the United States and Canada. For Inwatec the partnership with Leko Matter proved that the value of understanding the customer is essential to ensure mutual success,” Claes Stanley states.


Find out more about our Hurricane Mat Rolling Machine and the Mat Sorting Conveyor on their detailed product pages.

How to empty +10,000 pockets a day

In Shanghai, China, the laundry company Fornet in 2015 established one of Asia’s most modern laundries where more than 10,000 pieces of garments are handled each day for both laundry and cleaning.

 

Such a significant volume needed extra attention from the beginning, and for that reason general manager Zhu Lijun was aware, that automation could play a part of the solution.

 

“We had identified the problem of emptying the pockets of 10,000 pieces of garments a day, and we realised that it was a hurdle that we needed to solve. I had read about Inwatec’s x-ray machine on the internet, and after a short dialogue, I went to Denmark to see the x-ray scanner in action on a Denmark laundry facility,” Zhu Lijun tells about the process.

 

Automation gives stability and efficiency

The setup in Shanghai that includes both x-ray scan of the garment and RFID-based sorting has now been running for more than a year, and Ms Zhu Lijun is certain, that she and her colleagues made the right choices from the beginning.

 

“Everything works excellent. It is a new laundry, and we have no historical data to compare with, but we’re sure that the automation is more efficient than a manual solution,” Ms Zhu Lijun reveals.

 

“Apart from helping us emptying the pockets, the setup also sorts the garments into nine different categories to pick the right washing or cleaning processes.  In that part of the equation, there is no doubt that the machine makes fewer errors than a human would do, and the speed is also higher and with fewer stops than a person could handle.”

 

Long distance service via the Internet

Ms Zhu Lijun had no worries choosing a Danish setup for the laundry in Shanghai, and time has proved, that she did not have to worry about having a service department 8,300 kilometres away.

 

“We have had very few issues so far, and when the line stops for some reason, we have solved it online without problems. It hasn’t been that complicated,” Ms Zhu Lijun tells.


Click to find out more about the X-Ray Machine and our Automatic Sorting Machine.

No more handling of filthy mats at innovative German laundry


The German company MEWA Hameln has existed more than 50 years, but the business idea is all up to date. MEWA delivers work wear, mats, cleaning cloths and towel rolls in a full-service solution to more than 11,800 companies.

Recently a group of five persons from the MEWA headquarters in Wiesbaden together technical staff from the production unit in Hameln visited Inwatec in search for a machine that can improve the mat production.

“10 years ago we had a mat unloader that could help us get the dirty mats separated for cleaning, but unfortunately it wasn’t fulfilling our expectations. It’s our hope that the Inwatec-version will do so,” Julia Gerner, Group leader at MEWA Textil-Management, explains of the visit.

All in all, no less than 76.000 floor mats pass through the production lines at MEWA Hameln every month, and now MEWA tries to minimize the burden of the initial handling.
“It is heavy and filthy work, and we would very much like to have it automated in a way that both betters the ergonomics for the employees as well as the efficiency of the production and the quality of the final product,” Project Engineer Julia Kamenezkaja ads.

“We see ourselves as an innovative business, and we always have eyes open for implementation of new technologies that can improve the processes in our production line. If it were possible – and make sense economically – we would consider making the entire mat line fully automated,” says Julia Kamenezkaja.

Facts about MEWA Hameln:
Founded in 1951
300 employees work at the Hameln site that manages a total of 11,800 companies and generates sales of 54.6 million.
117,200 workers wear professional clothing delivered from MEWA Hameln.
Each month, 4 million cleaning towels, 76,000 floor mats and 6,300 towel rolls are processed and distributed there.
Read more about MEWA here (external website)


Watch a short introduction about our mat unloader in this video. Get more details about the automatic mat unloader here.

British food industry demands empty pockets

Garments ruined because of forgotten pens and markers have been a big issue in the laundry industry for decades. More recently the demand of empty pockets has come from the food industry where the tiniest pieces can become significant problems.

“The recent years we have had more and more potential customers asking us specifically if we can offer them X-ray scanning of the laundry. It’s dominantly from the food industry, where even a small paper clip can be a huge expense if it drops from a rolled-up sleeve or a pocket into the production area,” tells Carl Heeley, General Manager at Johnsons Apparelmasters Hinckley office.

”These companies will do anything to minimise that risk, and when they ask for the possibility of scanning the garments for foreign elements. Of course, we would like to offer that shortly,” Carl Heeley added when visiting Inwatec in Odense to watch how an X-ray system could help solving the issues.

Fewer expenses to ruined garments

Apart from getting rid of unwanted elements in the washed clothes, Apparelmasters also wish to minimise the costs that occur because of garment destroyed when pens or markers are forgotten in pockets and not found until after washing the clothing.

“We have huge issues and expenses because of ruined garment. Every week we must replace 200 pieces of clothing. While the garments themselves obviously has a price, we also have expenses and a lot of frustration in the administration when we must search for replacements,” Carl Heeley admits before underlining that direct costs have less focus than giving the costumers the optimal product:

“Even though we expect huge savings if we introduce X-ray systems in our laundry, the main focus is actually on delivering better service to our customers, and this could be a game changer in a rather traditional business. If we can reduce the number of ruined garments, we will also be able to deliver the cleaned clothes as promised, and that would be a unique selling point for Johnsons Apparelmasters. We are not the only laundry that faces problems with ruined garments,” Carl Heeley says.

Safety is top priority at Berendsen

In the Danish laundry and textile services group, Berendsen, Clean Room business with washing, rental and maintenance of clean room clothing and accessories among other things, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device and food industry across Europe has grown steadily in recent years.

Berendsen employs 800 people in clean room business in 11 laundries throughout Europe, and the volume means that the Director of Operations, Clean Room, Berendsen, Camilla Kondrup look closely at the next steps.

“Our primary motivations to invest in new equipment is that we are always working to enhance safety and quality in all our processes in Clean Room laundries, both in the handling of dirty clothes and equipment, washing and cleaning and packing and distribution,” says Camilla Kondrup.

Automatization for safety at working place

“We have business from the pharmaceutical industry, where they work with what we call the hazardous liquids”. Although our employees obviously wear special equipment when they sort and handle the clothes, there is a particular risk profile by working with these subjects. Among others, our clients count pharmaceutical companies working with development of various types of virus,” remarks Camilla Kondrup, who for that reason is considering whether X-ray technology and automated sorting can reduce the risk factor in clothes management.

“Our employees handles a lot of garments from the pharmaceutical industry, so we have full focus on maintaining maximum security. In time, we could consider robots to do the first handling of the laundry on arrival and to separate the garments, and we could perhaps also take full advantage automating other processes or the entire laundry operation. In the best world, we had no contact with certain types of clothing and equipment,” Camilla Kondrup continues.

In addition to the safety aspects of the work, Berendsen, like any other laundry, are working on how to further improve the quality of washing and handling of clothing and items in the future.

“When people are involved, there is always greater a possibility of errors than if sorting is fully automated and based on RFID-chips. If I must list the priorities of our investments, it is first and foremost about risk management. Next, it is about proper sorting. And finally, we are obviously keen on streamlining our processes with automation,” Camilla Kondrup concludes.

Airport X-Ray is not optimal for sorting of garments

The type of X-ray machines found in airports worldwide operates brilliantly at new02spotting unwanted objects hidden in pockets and bags. But without associated software to interpret the scans, the performance is wholly dependent on the human watching the screen.

That is confirmed by the Swedish company TvNo Textil Service, who have invested in an X-ray machine of the airport type to find pens and other objects such as needles and knives in the laundry, to avoid the classic ink damage to clothing and needlestick injuries among employees.

“Since we bought our X-ray machine, we have reduced the number of ink injuries by 50 percent, but it is evident that we would like to decrease it even more. We also note constant challenges with all plastic pens as they are not visible on the screen,” said production engineer Anders Ohlsson, when he, along with two colleagues from the laundry were visiting Hvidkærvej in Odense.

 

Display requires constant attention

TvNo Textil Service has no fewer than 12 men employed in the sorting line, and during each working day, 24,000 pieces of garment pass through the X-ray machine. And while Anders Ohlsson has no doubts about the efficiency of the human resources at TvNo, he acknowledges that operating the X-ray machine is an arduous effort:

“We constantly have a person seated in front of the display. There is nothing that gets rejected automatically, and it is of course quite demanding in the long run,” Anders Ohlsson says, while watching a new test of typical problems like pens, credit cards and markers from the TvNo laundry run through Inwatec’s X-ray machine to see if the object is detected and rejected by the computer algorithms.

“It is not only pens that give damage to clothing. Lip balms are also a challenge in the winter season. We cannot spot them with our existing X-ray system, and that leaves grease stains on clothes when a lip balm passes the washing machines and tumble dryers. We have the means to remove the stains, but we do not always discover the issues before the clothes are returned to the customer, and then it’s too late,” Anders Ohlsson explains.

 

Costly mistakes can be minimized

new04Buying new machinery also requires investments in engineering, logistics and training, but the board of the TvNo laundry are acutely aware that the return on investment could happen reasonable fast, and that recognition has brought the three-man delegation to Odense.

“We figured out that we still spend approximately 25,000 euros a year just to purchase the replacement for clothes that are destroyed by blots. On top of that expense we have the administrative cost associated with it,” says Anders Ohlsson.

 


Find more information about our X-ray machine, specialised for laundry, here.