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.

Innovation is a condition for growth

dsc03786In the Dutch laundry company Rentex Awé, there is no room for stagnation. Even when everything in the production line functions as it ought to, the family behind the business focusses on evolution and enhancement to keep the competitors behind.

“We work continuously on improving every part of the business, and that means we have to focus on three different tracks. First of all, we must work on how to raise the quality of our product. Secondly, we can better the productivity, and third, we need to improve the work environment,” explains Stef de Win when in Odense with his father, Erik de Win, to visit Inwatec and learn about the possibilities of further automatization of Rentex Awe.
 
“Since we seriously begun to work with automatization years ago, we redesigned the entire business line several times, and today the logistics looks completely different because of the progress in that field,” he describes.

Workforce happy with technology changes

Rentex Awe employs in the washing of work wear, linen and towels in the hospital sector, and each week 550 tonnes of garment and linen passes through the Dutch laundry in the small city of Elsloo, Limburg, where the company has its headquarters.
 
Until recently the soiled site sorting of 125.000 pieces of garment was done manually, but after investing in an x-ray machine from Inwatec, efficiency has had a boost and therefore the Rentex-directors now focusses on how to minimize the trivial and tough processes further.

“Robots do not need the micro breaks humans do. And even a few seconds of lacking attention a minute adds up to a lot of pieces of garment a day,” says Stef de Win, who enjoys the full support from his employees when it comes to changes in design and logistics:
 
“Many of these tasks aren’t very attractive to perform, why one of the positive side effects of the innovation and progress is that our employees like working with modern technology, and that way the changes also betters the work environment.”

Ink damage- and needle cuts – problems of the past

Since investing in the x-ray machine, some of the procedures formerly done became obsolete at Rentex Awe.img_20160829_085932
 
“Like a lot of other laundries, we had significant problems with batches of garments being destroyed by ink from overseen pens, but with the x-ray solution, we find 99.9 percent of the pens. That means that some of the procedures regarding handling, replacement and administration of destroyed garment isn’t needed on the same scale as before,” Stef de Win explains and proceeds to tell, that the same apply to damages caused by needles or scissors.
 
“When handling hospital garments we have had employees cutting themselves on needles. Primarily in the in-sorting but also when putting the washed clothes on hangers because the needles passed through the entire process. Since installing the x-ray, we haven’t had a single incident. Of course, this also improves the efficiency dramatically, when problems are handled automatically,” notes Stef de Win.
 

Progress requires innovation

At the recent visit to Odense, the Rentex-owners focussed on how all handling of laundry could be done entirely automatically, but both eyes and ears were open to new input, and Stef de Win has no doubt that it is necessary if the future of the company should remain bright.
 
“We think of innovation every day. It is an essential part of our business, and we are aware that all processes should be modified every few years to ensure the best production, the best working environment and the highest quality of our services,” he says.

X-Ray Machine cuts labour costs in half in hospital laundries

claes Efficient X-Ray sorting machine leads to 50 percent staff reduction in hospital laundries; DFD Aalborg has experienced. For five years, none of the employees at the soiled side sorting has received a stab injury. Dirty laundry, sorted by the innovative X-Ray technology and RFID-Chips is not a future scenario – it already exists.

At “De Forenede Dampvaskerier” (DFD) in Aalborg, Denmark, there are no doubts for the division manager Morten Christensen, that the X-Ray technology is a must if a company still wants to play a significant role in the Danish laundry industry.

The manual sorting system at the laundry in Aalborg was replaced by a sorting system from Inwatec, which allows, with its X-Ray technology and advanced computer algorithms, to select and reject garments, when carrying foreign items before beeing sent to the washing machines.

“Following the costs, the X-Ray machine is a splendid investment. We have cut off our labour expenses in this business part. Since it was a development project, it needed some time until everything was installed and put in the right order. But it has resulted in savings of three headcounts each year. In other words, we halved our cost by using X-ray sorting of the garments”, said Morten Christensen.

X-ray technology secures the workplace

On top of the savings, no stab wounds have happened since the X-Ray machine arrived. In addition to the efficiency savings, Morten Christensen recognised as well, that the work environment at the particular department approved significantly. Securing the workplace were also a primary purpose of developing the machine.

“It is a success story, which builds on two pillars. On the one side, the injury caused by needles when sorting out pockets is painful and is provoking a direct stress for the employee. On top of that, it takes at least one year until the employee knows if any diseases are caught with the cut. In turn, this leaves the person constantly uncertain about possible consequences, and that results in psychical stress for the staff member,“ tells Morten Christensen, who have experienced 4-5 stab injuries at DFD Aalborg – fortunately, all these incidents happened in the past.

“We are rummaging in garments when they are rejected, but at least we know now on which piece we need to give more awareness. Since we started to use the X-Ray machine, no similar accidents and injuries have happened”, he declared.

Smoothly working prototype since five years

img_0615-1-01-01DFD in Aalborg was the first company which invested in an X-Ray sorting system from Inwatec and Morten Christensen does not hide his enthusiasm for having a prototype in his laundry. He mentions that it has given him a market advantage.

“The competitiveness of our business is a condition for further innovation and development. We are not allowed to stay and keep existing systems, if they probably may restrict us. Therefore, it is clearly a necessity for us to work together with Inwatec to develop this business,” told division manager in Aalborg, who also owns one of the first Mat-Rolling Machines from Inwatec.

The Mat-Rolling Machine was purchased in 2010 and a year later the X-Ray Machine was acquired as well. In accordance to Morten Christensen, the willingness for new investments and developments is existing, but the present Inwatec machines are well maintained, and updated with the newest software. In result, there are no other more efficient and productive machines on the market at this time which means there is no need for acquiring replacements.

“Our machines are a few years old, but they are still working perfectly. We need neither an X-Ray Machine nor a Mat-Rolling Machine right now, but we have some other machines on which we have to think about the replacement.”

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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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.

X-Ray and Sorting

We are approaching the summer, which usually has a reference to vacation, relaxation and cosiness.

At Inwatec we share this idea, but what we also share is the passion for smart machines. Take for example our X-Ray, which locates foreign objects in textiles:

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We wish you a lovely spring with all the best to come!

– Inwatec