Inwatec moves into giant markets: The laundry industry excited about Funen technology
Original article: Fyens Stiftstidende “Inwatec slår hul på gigantmarkeder: Vaskeribranchen begejstret for fynsk teknologi”. Click here to read the article in Danish.
The Funen technology company Inwatec sends its first machines to a Japanese customer in the laundry industry this week. In addition, later in spring, a large fair in New Orleans is expected to open up new opportunities for the company in the United States.
Over the last five years, Inwatec has increased its sales 10 times. Especially in the past year, where Inwatec’s sales have increased by 35 percent.
The growth is visible in the company’s most recent accounts, which have just been published. The numbers are expected to remain or even increase this year as Inwatec is opening the doors to the Japanese and American laundry markets.
“We will send our first machines to Japan this week. And later this year we will be at the largest laundry trade fair in the US in New Orleans, which we expect to open the US market for us,” says Jørgen Jensen, who as the chief operations officer (COO) in the company is responsible for the employees and optimization of production in the company.
Big in the US
Inwatec is already big in the US in the market for mat rolling machines – they have sold more than 200 machines – now a new opportunity is waiting just around the corner.
Jørgen Jensen has had a central position in the 10-year-old company since he was hired one and a half years ago. Inwatec, delivering high-tech and innovative solutions with X-ray systems and artificial intelligence to the heavy duty laundry industry, is so busy that there has been a strong increase in focus on streamlining production and business while still continuing to hire new employees. Only within the last two years, Inwatec doubled the number of employees and is still growing.
– We entered the year with a historically large order after we increased sales significantly last year. We expect to do at least the same this year when we foresee a growth of up to 50 percent. It has been crucial to look at optimizing the internal processes to ensure faster production and improve the handling of increasing orders, he says.
X-ray and artificial intelligence
Five years ago the gross profit in the company was DKK 2.1 million. Within the new accounts, Inwatec has raised the top line from DKK 14.5 million in 2017 to DKK 20.5 million in 2018. The company is particularly successful with its high-tech sorting solutions for industrial laundries in hotels and hospitals. With the technology of X-ray and artificial intelligence Inwatec machines can handle larger amounts of dirty laundry faster and at the same time remove foreign items such as pens or needles.
– No one has to stand and sort the clothes manually anymore. Hence, employees manpower can be used otherwise. At the same time, sorting clothes is a job that it can be difficult to get employees for because the minimum wages increase and there is a poor working environment, so there is great interest in our technology in an industry that is otherwise very traditional, says Jørgen Jensen.
Get bigger orders
Inwatec has been established as an innovative brand in the industry so that it is increasingly getting orders with more machines for larger customers. At the same time, Inwatec is getting involved earlier in the planning phase.
– When we increasingly get larger orders, it means that we can look further because we know that we must deliver two or three lines to a laundry that has not yet been built, he says.
He emphasizes that Inwatec, with its use of robots and machine learning, is pioneering in a tradition-based industry where there is minimal competition.
– Therefore, it is also important that we constantly develop ourselves so that we can maintain our leading position, he says.
New partner and investments
The increased sales are thus due to both the development of existing and innovation of new products. At the same time, massive investments have been put into new employees, which can be seen in the cost of wages that has increased from DKK 10 to 15 million.
Also, at the end of 2017, the company got a new global partner and co-owner. The internationally operating company JENSEN GROUP that sells traditional machines for the laundry industry, took over 30 percent of Inwatec in December 2017. The other two owners are CEO Mads Andresen and Lars Hansen, who is the principal shareholder of the robot company Egatec. He lives a longer stone throw from Inwatec in the same business area of Odense.
The arrival of the JENSEN GROUP leads to even more orders, as Inwatec has thus gained access to 100 sellers in JENSEN’s global network of retailers.
– JENSEN GROUP wins by coming out with the latest technology in the industry when they are out with customers, and for us, it gives access to their customers, says Jørgen Jensen.
– It has of course also meant that last year we invested a lot of time and hours in teaching their salespeople in our products so that they can sell it, he says.
As stated, the company is reinvesting much money in the development of products, new employees and sales work. Nevertheless, the bottom line had also increased from DKK 2 million to DKK 2.3 million in 2018, and at the same time, the company also increased the number of apprentices to three.