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.

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!

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.

Updated: Inwatec Robot Separator for Laundries

Inwatec presents the Inwatec Robot Separator.

Automatic separator robot for laundries. Items will be separated one by one. The items are loaded bulk into the robot.

The precision of a human but the endurance of a machine. All kinds of garments separated one-by-one at high speed. Imagine there were no hands.

We expected delivery in Q1 2017, and on the 31st of March 2017, we packed the truck with the first Inwatec Robot Separator leaving Hvidkærvej with arrival at the customer a few days later.

Next steps are unwrapping and installing the new machine. We will be back with more shortly, when everything is up and running.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you would like to know more about our newest tool, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Textile Handling – Service and Tutorials

Below you will find different tutorials on how to operate and make adjustments on various machines for textile handling. Feel free to contact us anytime via mail if you miss anything.

Tutorial – X-Ray Machine: ‘Check reject’ module

The operator can accept manually the garment, even if it was rejected by the software... More

Garment types in the X-Ray Machine

Light garments Light garments, such as hospital-, food industry- or personal garments have typically very... More

Progress of the Inwatec Robot Separator

On this page, we share our current status and the development history on the Robot... More

General replacements

General Replacements – Service and Tutorials

Below you will find different tutorials on how to replace various components that are used... More

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.”

Pockets hide all kinds of expensive problems

xray messeAt laundries all over Europe, one of the most expensive returning problems are items left in pockets of the garments. At Texcare International in Frankfurt in June, the X-ray machine from Inwatec drew a lot of attention as a possible solution.

“Pens are always a huge issue, but we keep finding all kinds of different things in the pockets. Scissors, screwdrivers, markers, wallets, phones, glasses and bottles. You name it – we have it,” tells Mathieu Decraene, who is Production Manager at Klaratex in Belgium.

“We have tried a lot of different campaigns where we want our customers to think about it, but in the long run, it doesn’t change a lot, and we still find a bucket full of different objects every day,” he adds.

Mindblowing solution to the problem

In Ilkeston, the UK, Giltbrook Cleaners have the same issues, and here Production Process Manager Ian Filsell concludes that the left objects often harm the business:

“It damages our business strategy when we have an entire batch destroyed because of one single pen we did not find. The replacement cost in textiles quickly reaches 100 Euro, so even if we stick to our one shift-teams, it looks like an investment in the X-ray technology would quickly pay back,” Ian Filsell reasons.

His Belgium colleague draws the same conclusion, and he admits that Klaratex wasn’t looking in that direction coming to the fair in Frankfurt:

“We were not aware that X-ray sorting could be a smart solution to our issue. I think that the Inwatec machine is a different and mindblowing take on how the sorting can be done. I hope that I will soon be able to test the sorting functions with our garments and textiles,” Mathieu Decraene says.

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.”