Tuesday, December 12, Inwatec was honored with the award as ‘2019 Robotics Company of the Year’ from Odense Robotics cluster.
Inwatec was one of six finalists together with Blue Ocean Robotics, KOBOTS, Lorenz Technology, Mobile Industrial Robots, and Robot Nordic. Given the strong field, it was a very proud CEO of Inwatec, Mads Andresen, who went on stage to receive the price:
“I’m delighted to accept the award on behalf of the entire company. I am enormously proud to have been picked as the winner from such an outstanding group of finalists. At Inwatec, we strive to nurture talent, particularly students and recent graduates, as part of our ongoing growth journey. It’s hugely rewarding to support young people’s development and learn from their ideas. It is a real honor for all of us at the company to have our efforts recognized by companies in the Odense Robotics cluster,” Mads Andresen said from the stage.
The award is sponsored by Nykredit Bank. Lars Holm, Centre Director for Nykredit Bank in Odense, said:
“Robotics and automation companies in Odense bring growth to the region and create value for a range of industries worldwide. We are proud to sponsor the ‘Robotics Company of the Year’ award and celebrate the extraordinary contribution that Odense Robotics cluster companies make to our business community and our society.”
At the end of November, another young Laudrynerd joined our workshop team. Christian Birch is 19 years old and will stay with us for at least a year during his so-called EGU education, mainly helping with the assemblage of all our machines. He has a fascinating passion for steel and everything that can be created and build with it. Christian grew up and still lives in Torø, a small town outside of Assens, Fyn with his family that includes two dogs.
After school, he visited efterskolen, where he learned all about hunting and fishing in the first year followed by the very different field of blacksmithing in the second year. While he still likes to go out on fishing trips with his father, the second year of efterskolen had an important impact on his interests as it ignited his enthusiasm for steel. At the age of 18, he continued learning even more about it while gaining knowledge in welding at a production school. As this path of education is very focused on practical skills he could directly start learning by doing. Amongst other products ordered by customers he helped building furniture, e.g. shelves, made from steel and wood at the company he worked for at that time. During the time at production school, he got in contact with the wife of our Laundrynerd Hilmer, who is working there, and thereby got introduced to Inwatec. As Christian knew that his biggest interest lies in metalwork a trial internship at Inwatec seemed to be a good choice. Although his work at Inwatec mainly consists of an assemblage of various pieces and is therefore different from working with raw steel, Christian enjoys it very much. “For me, it is like building with LEGO but in real life and I enjoy it a lot,” he says.
We are happy about having Christian with us and are glad that he enjoys being surrounded by us Laundrynerds so much: “I am really happy to be here and I like the atmosphere at Inwatec. I can always find someone to ask questions and everyone is really helpful.”
In his spare time, Christian combines his interests in steel and the production of different products. He creates small knives that can be used for hunting activities as well as small bags for different items such as drinking cans and knives. Therefore he also needs to know how to work with leather and wood. When he is not in the garage working on new items he enjoys hunting trips with his father and is saving up for diving gear. Since he got his dive license, he is dreaming of going diving again.
Welcome to the team Christian, we are glad to have you!
Would you like to become part of Inwatec? Check out our open positions and send your application!
In addition to designing and building advanced machines for the laundry industry, some of Inwatec’s employees also showcase their capabilities in front of the screens in “FirmaCS”, a Danish national tournament in the computer game CounterStrike, or CS:GO.
Inwatec is represented with the teams “Inwatec LaundryNerds” and “Inwatec MatNerds”, and including the reserves, we have 12 men armed with mouse and keyboard.
In the current edition of the tournament, the LaundryNerds have qualified for the playoffs while the MatNerds have had quite a few fatalities in the tournament so far.
“There is a massive difference in the abilities of the two teams, but not in how much fun we have out of it. You can watch the matches online, and there is a lot here that does. And then we talk about the most obvious mistakes in the canteen the next day”, says Bandit, who goes by the name Jesper Lolk daily, and is also an electrician at Inwatec.
The interest in the two teams matches in the tournament culminated with a social event at Inwatec. Here, computers were set up so that everyone could test their own skills against their colleagues.
After food and play, a match was shown on the big screen – with a qualified commentator who could explain the strategies and explain the game situations.
If your company has a CounterStrike team, we are always ready to meet you online for a friendly game – just contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two mat rollers with additional sorting and a big “sombrero” from Inwatec has helped Berendsen Finland while they have tripled their mat production capacity. So tells Kim Nordberg, who as Country Director at Berendsen Textile Service OY, who is in charge of the 60 people working at the facility in Tuusula, half an hour’s drive from the Finnish capital, Helsinki.
“Inwatec was our natural choice when selecting the supplier for the new mat line set up, due to former experience with them,” Kim Nordberg says.
The solution included a new HURRICANE mat roller, and a CYCLONE – Mat Carousel (they call it “The sombrero” in Tuusula). The new machines were placed side by side with the existing TORNADO Mat Roller.
Kim Nordberg explains: “Before, we had five persons working with the mat handling in two shifts. Today we have seven people, but we are only working in one shift, and we still managed to triple our production capacity!”
At the Tuusula plant, two persons are unloading the clean mats on the Inwatec Mat Carousel. The carousel serves as a buffer for the four persons responsible for rolling the mats and unloading the tables of rolled mats. Finally, two employees pack the mats, so they are ready for the routes.
“We used to run the production from 5:00 to 23:00, and now we are doing everything before 15:00 or 16:00 in the afternoon. We have a better working environment for the employees, and it’s better for the company as we are less vulnerable, having two CBW’s up and running. If we have break-downs, it’s easier to catch up the same day as we do have more free hours,” Kim Nordberg explains.
As in other parts of the laundry world, new employees are hard to find – and to keep – in Finland. And also, for that reason, Kim Nordberg is always keen on improving his plant.
“65 percent of our staff at Berendsen Finland have been working here for five years or more. But we always want to improve. We are always open to new solutions where we can improve productivity and employee satisfaction. If we are offered machines that help us in that regard, I’m all ears,” Kim Nordberg underlines.
We have been looking for a new software developer for a few weeks and have finally found Alex Holberg who, just after finishing his Bachelor of Software Engineering, dedicated himself to the laundry world and can now call himself another #laundrynerd. Which fits the way he describes himself:
“I enjoy a variety of things. I share many hobbies with the stereotypical introverted nerd, most notably, gaming, D&D (Dungeon and Dragons), and science. I enjoy a good documentary and trying to learn new things, whether it be in the field of electronics and software, chemistry or even biology.“
Alex only recently turned 23 and comes from a small village close to Kolding, Askov, but lives in Odense now. The Praktik- og Projektdag at SDU allowed us to get in touch with Alex and after the interesting conversation we had, we were pleased to receive his application.
Alex started off mid-September and is looking forward to creating software that serves a purpose other than only being discussed in the context of an exam at university. Coming from the software language Java Alex has to get used to the software language we use, but as he says the techniques are the same. The only difference is a new way of telling the computer what to do. His main tasks will be designing and programming software for our machines. Currently, he is working on a new interface aiming to optimize planning processes in the laundry of one of our customers.
“I enjoy a good challenge and learning new things, which is exactly what I’m doing at the moment. I get to solve complicated problems and learn a new programming language at the same time”
Alex is a very passionate colleague with a lot of ideas in his head that he keeps in an unstructured list but doesn’t mind sharing. He warns not to be too curious though unless there is time for an exhaustive discussion about the project execution because that’s what the conversation will probably turn into.
We are delighted to have another fresh mind amongst us and cannot wait for everything that he will come up with to develop and improve our customer’s laundry processes. Welcome to the team, Alex!
Would you like to become part of Inwatec? Check out our open positions and send your application!
Manually inspecting the pockets of work clothes is a costly and time-consuming process at many laundries. This was also the case at Victor Vask, which services the Danish island of Bornholm. Therefore director and owner Kenn Ivan Kjellberg did not hesitate when he found an alternative.
“We had a heavy process of the soiled side sorting, and we wanted to avoid putting our hands in all the pockets of the laundry. It takes an incredibly long time to check your pockets, and at the same time, we need to avoid employees getting hurt by needles, scissors, or other sharp things that hide in the pockets. We have been close, but we can avoid that with the new setup. Today we scan the garments before we sort them,” says Kenn Ivan Kjellberg about the X-ray scanner that Victor Vask bought from Inwatec in Odense.
Costly errors can be avoided
Victor Vask’s customers include, among others, Bornholm’s regional hospital, home care, dairies, the fishing industry, defense, and civil defense. This means that the pockets on the workwear can hide dangerous objects, but also otherwise harmless items that can damage the clothes in the washing process.
“We are terrified of pens and permanent markers in our pockets. It can quickly cost DKK 10,000 (1,339 €) in replacement value to replace the damaged garments, and on top of that, we have administrative costs and expenses for re-washing. Overall, I would estimate that an overlooked ballpoint pen could easily cost us DKK 11,000 (1,475 €),” estimates Kenn Ivan Kjellberg.
The laundry owner cites three parameters as the decisive factors for Victor Vask acquiring an X-ray machine:
“Our investment is primarily done for economic and working environmental reasons. But there is also an environmental aspect to it as the X-ray machine can save us from throwing out 100 kilos of damaged clothing when we avoid pens in the machines. And that part is equally important to us,” he emphasizes.
Technology paves the way for developments
Victor Vask’s X-ray machine is fed manually, and the garments are manually sorted once they have passed through the scanner. Kenn Ivan Kjellberg says that the current laundry production does not make an investment in automatic sorting profitable for the present, but that it is a possible upgrade in the future.
The director states that he and his colleagues always keep an eye on the development potential of the market. That was the reason why he approached Inwatec director Mads Andresen in the first place.
“At Victor Vask, we like to invest in new technology that improves production and working conditions. When I read about Inwatec’s solution, I contacted Mads to find out if we could benefit from it. It was in the fall of 2018. Shortly after that, we received a visit from Inwatec, and I visited Odense with two employees who tried to operate the machine in real life. They were also very positive, and that made it easy for us to decide,” says Kenn Ivan Kjellberg.
In September 2019, the Laundry Experience Event was attended by many experts from the laundry industry, including Mads Andresen, CEO of Inwatec, who was invited on the first day to give a presentation on the latest automation and robotics solutions for textile management.
The event was organized by Vematex, the Dutch organization of laundry suppliers, and took place at the Clova laundry in Wommelgem near Antwerp. The two-day event opened the opportunity for visitors from the largest laundries in the Benelux region to discuss the latest developments and innovations in the field of automatic laundry handling together with the invited suppliers.
Inwatec was particularly pleased that the event took place at the Belgian laundry Clova, as one of Inwatec's sorting systems for soiled garments is automating the laundry's processes already. This enabled the visitors to experience Inwatec's robot solutions live and in action after hearing about it in a presentation.
View impressions of the event and Inwatec's installed solution below:
At the moment 5 out of 50 #laundrynerds make up young talents that have chosen to take their education in cooperation with Inwatec. Two of them just started their ‘eux’ education in August this year. Meet Magnus Aatofte Rasmussen & Aksel Mads Madsen!
Within the Danish education system, the ‘eux’ education allows students to combine a general upper secondary education and vocational training, giving them direct access to higher education in a wide range of programs. Magnus and Aksel take turns in learning theoretical knowledge at the Syddansk Erhvervsskole in Odense and gaining practical skills at Inwatec the latter being the major part of their main courses of study. Compared to other educational paths the ‘eux’ training lasts for up to five years. While Magnus is working towards becoming an Automation Technician within the next four years, spending most of his time on the machines in our workshop, you will find Aksel mostly in front of his computer. In five years’ time, he can call himself Data Technician with a specialization in programming.
Magnus and Aksel both are 18 years old and just at the start of their professional careers. Thanks to Odense Robotics bringing together future employees and companies within the robotics cluster we found Aksel, who uploaded his CV because he was looking for a supporting company to go with for his education. And it turned out that he brings the right skills and interests for an apprenticeship at Inwatec.
Only a few months into his education he is currently working on the user interface for our sorting machines as well as on the image processing within the field of machine learning.
“Out of the things I’ve seen so far, machine learning has been very exciting. In general, creating software that works with industrial machines is interesting, since I’ve never tried it before”, Aksel tells.
Magnus enjoys a lot of different activities in his spare time and when you meet him in the workshop, singing along Toto’s song “Africa”, it seems as if he has been part of Inwatec for more than a few months.
Within different teams, he is not just doing gymnastics himself but is also training kids in doing gymnastics three times a week.
When he feels like creating music he either plays the Marimba by himself or hits the drums with the band he is part of. On the more technical side, he works on audio projects or builds up workshops to then restore an old tractor.
During school, Magnus built electrical panels and repaired machinery amongst other tasks at Kjærgaard for some hours a week for four years. The experience he gained at that time he can now make use of when building and assembling Inwatec machines. Now gaining experience in the second company he is working at, he jokes: “I think the amount of cake is almost the same.” Within the first part of his education, he will learn more about our machines, the assemblage, and electrical installations. Later on, he will also create electrical drawings and learn some programming.
After his first weeks at Inwatec he reports:
“I love it. It’s exciting to be part of a firm that evolves so much, so quickly. Everybody is very nice to me and wants to get to know me better. People are happy, smile and joke. If I wonder about things I can ask and everybody takes their time to help me understand, whatever it is.”
In addition, Magnus is fascinated by how fast Inwatec’s machinery evolves and is looking forward to becoming a bigger part of not just assembling but also developing our systems.
Both Magnus and Aksel will stay with us for the next few years and we are very much looking forward to seeing both of them developing – not just our machines and automation software, but also their professional careers.
Welcome Aksel, welcome Magnus – it is our pleasure to have you amongst us!
Would you like to become part of our team or start your apprenticeship? Check out our open positions and send your application!
With our focus on education and our passion for offering possibilities in various fields for young talents, we are proud and thrilled to introduce three #laundrynerds that you might have seen before. All three of them have been part of Inwatec for one year or even longer, but have now made the next step in their careers.
“It was the plan from the beginning, that if there was a job that I would fit, I should work full time. And I’m very happy how things worked out.“ (Nicolai)
Nicolai started in fall 2017 and mostly supported Inwatec with the PLC software for one of our mat rolling machines while studying Automation Engineering. Before his studies, he finished his first education as an electrician. Since the 1st of August, he is now a full-time Service Engineer within our software team. That still includes software development for our mat rolling machines, but he is also responsible for a large part of the service tasks we receive from our customers including service calls and installations. He therefore also tests our machines before they are sent out.
Part of the team for one and a half years now, Benjamin joined Inwatec in April 2018 to prepare for his studies of Technology Management and Marine Engineering that began half a year later. When he started, his work included assembling machines and different other tasks coming up in our workshop. With the beginning of a mandatory apprenticeship within his studies (that he takes at Inwatec) his tasks shifted to a mix of project support and workshop tasks. Benjamin is planning on continuing his work after the apprenticeship as a student assistant and is aiming to become a Project Manager once he finishes his degree.
Laus, the youngest in terms of his time at Inwatec, was studying Robot Systems – Advanced Robotics Technologyat SDU when he joined as a student assistant in July 2018. He supported us in various software development tasks and it did not take him long to find an interesting topic for his master project – the development of AI to find the best gripping areas of laundry items (read more). We were glad to enable him finding a topic of interested that at the same time helped Inwatec exploring new ways of using AI. At the beginning of September Laus started his full-time contract as Software Developer complementing the #laundrynerds software team in a new role.
“When I started at Inwatec, I didn’t have a plan for what I was going to do or where I was going to be after my studies. Inwatec seemed like a good place to get some experience working with automation, as well as starting my transition from doing studies to being in a working environment. During my time as a student worker, I was introduced to the idea of staying here after finishing my studies, and since it seemed like the right thing to do for me, I gladly ended up taking the offer.”
It is always rewarding to see young people developing in such a short time and growing both personally and professionally. We are glad that you will continue being #laundrynerds and we are looking forward to a fruitful and joyful future together with you, Benjamin, Laus & Nicolai!
Would you like to start your career at Inwatec? Check out our open positions and send your application!
Unifirst Corporation, one of North America’s largest workwear and textile service companies, identified the Inwatec VORTEX mat rolling system as a solution to increase productivity, improve workflow efficiency and enhance safety for team partners.
According to Mr. Kevin Forcier, UniFirst Industrial Engineer, the Inwatec Vortex outfitted with a new RFID reader, proved to be the right option. “This system has surpassed our expectation,” says Forcier. “Overall, productivity has increased significantly since installing the new equipment.”
Forcier contributes this impressive result to the patented rollover feature that eliminates manual steps for UniFirst operators and allows more mats to be rolled in less time.
RFID reader supports better logistics
As a company committed to leveraging technology, UniFirst required the VORTEX mat roller be designed to read and identify mats outfitted with RFID chips. According to Forcier, this was an essential component for UniFirst to achieve their goal of improving workflow by reducing time-consuming tasks in the mat rolling process.
“We are now able to integrate RFID chips in our mat rolling automation system,” says Forcier. “This process improvement eliminated extra handling of the mats by our team partners.”
Inwatec made timely adjustments to the VORTEX system to include this innovative feature. When the new setup was available, UniFirst conducted a successful test of the VORTEX mat roller in a pilot facility.
More than 20 VORTEX systems have been shipped to UniFirst plants across North America from Inwatec Headquarters in Denmark.
“It is a smart investment,” says Forcier, “mat rollers are a workhorse at our facilities and every day we improve our workflow and job satisfaction with the VORTEX system. The days when associates have to process one mat at a time will soon be a thing of the past.”
“At UniFirst, we also strive to best utilize the skills of our team partners,” comments Forcier. “Ultimately, improving work processes leads to higher job satisfaction. When production steps are streamlined, UniFirst team partners can quickly flex to other areas in the plant that need support and acquire new skills.”
This approach appears to be producing the desired result. Earlier this year, UniFirst was named to Forbes Magazine’s prestigious list of “America’s Best Large Employers” for 2019. This recognition is the direct response of UniFirst team partners who were surveyed and said they would recommend the company to friends and family as a great place to work.
Congratulations and thank you for partnering with Inwatec on this exciting project.
Watch the video below to see the functions and capabilities of the VORTEX mat roller with an integrated RFID reader. Click here to view more information about the VORTEX.