We are Robot Heroes from Odense

We are Laundrynerds – and We Are Robot Heroes from Odense! The Danish city is the place “Where Robot Heroes Grow”.

 

Photo credit to Odense Robotics

 

Odense Robotics is one of the world’s top robotics clusters. Companies are supported by a dedicated cluster management team, that is connecting businesses, research, and education as well as people. Their mission is based on the belief that robots will bring a meaningful change for businesses and their employees. We are proud to be part of the next industrial revolution and the automation community including more than 120 companies!

Photo Credits to Odense Robotics

At the R-18 robotics trade show, Odense Robotics invited four engineers to talk about robotics and automation in Odense. Our Laudnrynerd Tudor, a Software Engineer from Romania, was invited to join the speakers.

Also, Odense Robotics followed Tudor, around the workshop. He shows the playground of the Laundrynerds and tells about his tasks.

“Seeing what you had in your mind come true and be useful for somebody in the real world – that’s quite rewarding.” His work at Inwatec is the same as Tudor would do in his spare time anyway. Sounds like a dream job, doesn’t it?

Check out the video to find out more about Tudor’s passion for innovation and the technologies we build at Inwatec.

 

Inwatec celebrates Innovation Award and nomination

Recently, Inwatec received a bit more attention than usual. On Friday, September 7, Inwatec received Patent Nord’s Innovation Award 2018, and four days later, Inwatec was one of the last three nominees for DIRA’s Automation award.

The honors for the latter award went to another company, but it does not spoil the happiness of CEO Mads Andresen, who is exceedingly pleased with the attention received by the company in the past week.

“Of course, our focus is primarily on making solutions that are for the benefit of our customers. But having said that, the award and the nomination prove that people have noticed Inwatec, even though we only address the small niche of industrial laundries around the world,” says Mads Andresen.

The success is driven by the employees

From the company’s first day, Inwatec has worked closely with customers to develop solutions that could remove the unilaterally repeated work of the laundries for the benefit of both the production capacity and the well-being of the employees.

The investigating dialogue is still the most critical part of the development, and Mads Andresen is proud of how the 35 employees at the headquarter in Odense manage to fulfill the customer wishes when they develop the products that are needed in the industry.

“Our luck is that we have so many skilled employees. They come up with all these crazy ideas that suddenly turn into a product that we can call Patent Nord and have patented. As late as Today

 I received an email saying that we have now issued a patent in Australia. So now we can really speed up sales there as well,” said Mads Andresen in connection with the Patent Nord award ceremony.

Significant growth in a short period of time

The gift following the award – a striped animal-like sculpture that was immediately dubbed “the racoon (literally “Washing Bear” in Danish)” – was handed out by Patent Nord’s Niels Harding, who emphasised that the award was founded with the aim of focusing on innovative product development in Danish companies, regardless of whether there is a high or recession.

“Inwatec wins this year’s Innovation award based on an overall assessment. This includes an assessment of how Inwatec generally works with innovation and product development, as well as the fact that IPR has protected several products that are also successful in the market” said Niels Harding.

“Besides, with the Innovation Award 2018, we want to premiere the great development that Inwatec has overall had. In 2009, Mads Andresen was the only employee in the company, and today there are 35 employees in Inwatec,” Niels Harding said before Dorte Friis’s artwork was handed over to Mads Andresen.

“Among the very best in the cluster”

At the award ceremony, there was guest input from Henrik Brændstrup from the local cluster of Odense Robotics, and he emphasized Inwatec’s significant focus on finding and cultivating the labor in collaboration with the local educational institutions.

“The cluster that you are part of has a challenge: It is hard to find the right people. Many companies complain about that problem, but you do not. You try to take a different look and see the possibilities. You have taken the consequence of the industry lacking specialists, and so you have created your own blue ocean. There is few in the cluster as skilled as Inwatec to see pipeline in all the educational institutions in Odense,” stated Henrik Brændstrup.

“I do not have an academic study that supports it, but I am very sure that Inwatec is among the very best in the whole cluster when it comes to integrating people from the education system. That’s a great approach,” Henrik Brændstrup announced.

 

 

Multi-talent now supports our Laundrynerds within production

Rene Beukema, 36 years old, was born in the Netherlands and came to live and work in Denmark 5 months ago. At the beginning of September, Rene started as a technician at Inwatec.

Rene’s education in the Netherlands was related to animal health care, however, in his past job, Rene worked with wooden floors, sandpapering and laying down the floors. Although now again, his position at Inwatec is completely different to what he is used to do, Rene sums up his first weeks very positively:

“The work is very interesting and I’m learning a lot, and the team is very friendly and helpful”

Rene’s hobbies are bow shooting, sword fighting, and fishing. Additionally, he likes horse-back riding and loves to take a walk with the dog.

“At my job here at Inwatec, I’m hoping for a long career where the works keep challenging me and that we can build some awesome robots.”

We are looking forward to building awesome robots in the future together with you too! Welcome to the team, Rene.

From writing Bachelor Project to being a Student Worker

Patrick Friis Petersen joined us as a student programmer mid of August. Patrick is 23 years old and was born and raised in Hvidovre, a suburb of Copenhagen.

He is currently studying Robotic Systems at University of Southern Denmark in Odense. Patrick recently finished his Bachelor’s programme and is now continuing with his Master’s in the same field.

We got to know Patrick during his last semester of his Bachelor’s studies, where he, together with Frederik, another of our student programmers, worked on their final Bachelor’s project and wrote the Bachelor’s thesis in collaboration with Inwatec.

In his free time, Patrick loves to cook and he jokes: “I spend most of my day wondering what I’ll have for dinner!”

Patrick is happy to now have a student job, which is more related to his studies: “Previously, I have worked at a call center as technical support and customer service. At Inwatec, I am currently working on the interface for an automated bagging-machine.”

He likes his tasks at Inwatec and is happy about the comfortable working environment. “It’s challenging, as the work I do here actually has an impact for the company. But also a great experience and unlimited coffee is a HUGE plus!” Patrick is already keen on seeing the results of his of his new projects. “I look forward to implementing my code on the machines, and being able to say ‘I made it do that!”

Award ceremony and After-Work Beer at Inwatec on 7th of September

We are inviting again to an open house and some after-work beers on the 7th of September. Everybody is welcome!

And this time we are proud to announce that the event doubles as an award ceremony including speeches and so on 🙂

So come by and help us celebrate the award and visit the home of the #Laundrynerds.

We will provide you with drinks and food, and we would be happy to know if you plan to be around so we can order the right amounts of food and beverages.

Please send us a mail via sia@inwatec.dk.

We are looking forward to meeting you.


You can find us (and our laundrylab) at Hvidkaervej 30 in 5250 Odense:

Two new Laundrynerds supporting our production

Our workshop team has grown bigger again – we are happy to have Jesper (28) and Thomas (20) on board since August 1st! Jesper supports us as an electrician and Thomas does an apprenticeship as an automation engineer.


Jesper – Electrician

Jesper Lolk is 28 years old and grew up in Ringe, a town close to Odense on the island Funen.

Originally, Jesper was educated to be a ‘house electrician’. However, directly after receiving his diploma, he already started working as an ‘industrial traveling electrician’. In the past years, Jesper mostly worked in the food industry. There, he built various transportation systems for large-scale industrial butchering.

Much of his experience from his previous jobs helps Jesper to perform great work at Inwatec from the beginning as well.

Now, having worked as an electrician at Inwatec for a couple of weeks, Jesper sums up: “So far, most interesting for me has been getting to know Inwatec’s machines, experiencing how they are built, and seeing how much the machines are optimized all the time.”

“I like it very much. At Inwatec, there is a different work environment than I am used to, which is a very positive aspect of my work here. I am really looking forward to being a fully grown Laundrynerd soon and have many good experiences with Inwatec in future as well!”

In his spare time, Jesper likes to work and tinker with computers, including building and disassembling them. When the weather is good, he also enjoys going fishing.


Thomas – Automation Technician Apprentice

Thomas Johannes Mortensen is 20 years old, grew up in Svendborg, and recently joined Inwatec for his apprenticeship as an Automation Technician.

In the first half of 2018, Thomas completed a theoretical ‘basic education’ of 20 weeks, in which he gathered first relevant knowledge by performing experiments, creating technical drawings and writing reports. Now, he will be working at Inwatec’s workshop for approximately six months before he goes back to school again. In total, the education as an Automation Technician takes 3 to 3.5 years and consists of both theoretical and practical training.

Thomas appreciates the tasks at Inwatec being more applied and advanced, compared to the first part of his vocational education.

“In school, we did a lot of basic stuff, but here it is more complicated and with a purpose”, Thomas describes. “I am looking forward to learning, be on a team and do what I like – working with robots and machines.”

We are proud that with Thomas, we have a second Automation Technician apprentice on our team. Also, we are very glad to hear that Thomas likes working at Inwatec: “It is the best place I can imagine. I can’t wait to work with the machines even more.”

In his free time, Thomas likes to be with his friends and family and he is further interested in gymnastics.

Smart tracking reduces loss of articles

Mads Andresen, Kent Pettersson (CEO of KåPI Tvätt), and Morgan Olsson (KåPI Tvätt Production Manager)

At the family-owned Swedish laundry KåPI Tvätt in Bengtsfors, management has been actively investing in the fight against lost inventory. The chosen solution is to chip mark all current garments, and as part of that process, KåPI Tvätt has just invested in an Inwatec setup, which includes an X-ray scanner, a UHF Chip reader, and a sorting line.

“We continue to lose 20-30 percent of our inventory every year, and considering that we spend between 7 and 10 million Swedish kroner (680,000-970,000 €) to on the purchase of new fabrics, it goes without saying that it is a fairly large amount, we can save when we get the systems up and running. We expect the ROI to happen in a few years,” says director Kent Pettersson.

The system will initially be set up in such a way that all pieces without an existing chip are rejected and only returned to the circulation when they are equipped with chips and registered in the system. This way it is expected that the process can be completed in a relatively short time span, and from the first day there will be significantly better control of all inventory in use.

Fewer employees in production – better quality
At KåPI Tvätt, there are currently between six and ten people working to sort the dirty laundry, which includes towels, sheets, tablecloths and working uniforms from hotels, restaurants and conference centers.

Part of the explanation for the many employees is that KåPI Tvätt manages many smaller pieces of garments and that handling requires many hands. The expectation is that this part of the workforce in the laundry will be minimized significantly.

“We will only need 3-4 people with the new equipment. Fundamentally, it is expensive to have so many employees in production, and we are very aware of the efficiency as much as possible. For a while, we have been convinced that more automation and more robots are the way forward, and this is a logical next step for us,” says Production Manager Morgan Olsson, who, together with Kent Pettersson, went to Inwatec’s headquarters in Odense to have a closer look at the selected machines.

New technology is popular among the employees
Some of the tasks in the sorting disappear with the new investment, but according to Morgan Olsson, the employees look forward to the changes:

“They get a simpler working day, and they eliminate some of the dirty features. It’s not popular to be the one to check and empty the pockets. Especially in workwear, there are lots of screws, pens and similar items which have to be sorted out. It takes too much time, but that task will be improved with the new X-ray system,” he says, while Kent Pettersson agrees:

“We see ourselves as an innovative company, and we are leaders in the private sector in Sweden. It also means that we are following the progress, and our employees expect that,” says the director.

Artificial Intelligence and robots make laundries smarter and safer

The sophisticated picker of Inwatec’s Robot Separator calculates the best picking-point of the garments.

Many routines and procedures in the industrial laundries are both heavy, filthy and potentially dangerous, and on top of that, employees risk making mistakes when executing repetitive tasks.

That is why the now mature solutions combining robots, artificial intelligence and automation come into the picture.

Among the tasks which are most obvious to get rid of is the sorting and handling of soiled side garments. With modern technology it is entirely possible to obtain a setup where an absolute minimum of human interaction is needed:

The soiled garments can be dumped on conveyors where robots pick the items one by one to feed an X-ray scanner that detects unwanted items hidden in the pockets. At the same time, an RFID chip reader is registering the individual garment to decide how it should be sorted for proper handling further on in the system.

All those tasks can be achieved with employees only needed to empty the pockets on the garments that are rejected by the x-ray – and to ensure that the system is running as it is supposed to.

The X-ray system’s Artificial Intelligence automatically detects foreign items (e.g. pens)  and rejects the respective laundry article.

Endless opportunities

The challenge recently has been to make those robots smart enough to replace all these the human functions, but with artificial intelligence, it is now possible to let the computer analyze massive amounts of data and then find patterns that open new possibilities for the laundry business.

An example could be systems based on vision sorting alone. This is very useful in laundry businesses where the garments aren’t tagged because the items represent such a low value that the tagging doesn’t make sense as a business case.

Read more: The future is getting closer to Whangarei in New Zealand

The potential business cases in the laundry world that can be done with the help from automation, robots and AI today are practically endless.

As a rule of thumb, you can say, that if a typical person can perform a mental task with less than one second of thought, we can probably automate it using AI either now or shortly.

There is no doubt that the human employees at the industrial laundries will perform jobs that are not as hard or fatiguing as today, and more focused on servicing the end users or creating value to the company in another way.

Programming support by two young talents

At Inwatec, we always strive to support young talents. Especially during their education, many skilled students are searching for ways to implement their knowledge. This summer, we are happy to welcome Mustafa and Laus to our team!


Mustafa – Software Assistant

Mustafa Hekmat Al Abdelamir is 15 years old and recently started as a programming assistant at Inwatec. He is attending school at the 9th grade of the Danish primary school system.

We got to know Mustafa during a three-day school internship in May 2018. Already from the start, he did a great job, which is why we offered him a small student position to support our programming team, starting in June. Currently, Mustafa is training the Artificial Intelligence of our X-ray system. He is labeling X-ray scans from the installed machines to help the machine learn new patterns.

“It’s great working here, the people are nice and the work environment is really good”, Mustafa explains.

In his free time, Mustafa likes to meet friends and play video games. Sometimes, Mustafa even does his own experimental computer graphics and plays around with 3D-programs. However, most fun for him is to spend “all nighters” with a bigger group of friends. Originally, Mustafa is from Southern Iraq but already moved to Denmark at the age of 4.


Laus – Student Assistant in Robot Engineering

Laus Skovgård Bigum joined Inwatec at the beginning of July as a student assistant and supports the software development for our machines.

Laus is 23 years old and was born in Roerslev, a small town outside Middelfart. He moved to Odense for his Bachelor’s studies in Robotics which he started in 2014. Laus is studying to be a civil engineer in Robotics at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense and this fall, he will start working on his Master’s thesis, in collaboration with Inwatec.

“I like it a lot here. It is challenging in a good way and I learn so much from it. It will be cool to be a part of the fast development of the company and industry.”

Apart from his interest in robotics, Laus has a strong passion for both listening as well as playing music. He has been playing guitar, piano, and bass since he was eight years old, and regularly plays concerts with various bands.

In the past years, Laus already worked in different student jobs, such as at the university’s student service for IT and as a music teacher at an elementary school. Now, he is glad to be working in a field, which is more related and relevant to his studies:

“It is really cool to apply the knowledge from my studies. Although there are some practical aspects at the university, I feel like it has been primarily theoretical, so the work I will be doing now will take that knowledge into practice. I look forward to having a great time and learning a lot here.”


We regularly expand our team – find our open positions here!

Meet us at EXPOdetergo 2018

From 19 to 22 October 2018, one of the biggest international fairs for services and products of the laundry industry is taking place. We are happy to announce, that also Inwatec will be an exhibitor at the EXPOdetergo in Milan.

 

 

We are looking forward to meeting you at our booth E 21! You are welcome to bring your own items – no need to empty your pockets beforehand – and to test our sorting line including our robot and the X-Ray machine.

Additionally, you will have the chance to try out how efficient our VORTEX machine is in rolling mats and to have a deeper glance at a brand-new mat roller!

We are very looking forward to interesting and informative days at EXPOdetergo. Hope to see you there.