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.