Inwatec is traveling around the world

Presentation in Tokyo, Japan

The interest in investing in automation and robot solutions for industrial laundries is growing by the day. In the past weeks, we have proven that it is not only a regional trend when Inwatec CEO Mads Andresen flew around to talk with business owners about the opportunities currently available on the market.

Philadelphia, USA

The first stop on the trip was Philadelphia, USA, where Mads Andresen held a presentation at TRSA’s September 2018 ‘Production Summit & Plant Tours event.’ Next stop was Berlin, Germany, where Inwatec was invited to speak at WIRTEX Branchentreffen in Berlin on the topic: Robots and Artificial Intelligence in modern laundries. Finally, the round trip concluded with 5 days in Japan, where Mads Andresen together with JENSEN-GROUP visited several laundries.

At the WIRTEX industry meeting in Berlin, Germany

“The key words are efficiency, quality, and working environment, and the market is certainly ripe and eager to invest to achieve the goals. The challenges in the US, Europe, and Japan are not necessarily identical, but the solution is pretty much the same,” says Mads Andresen upon returning to the headquarters in Odense, Denmark.

“Most companies are interested in investing in more automation, whether they primarily do it to increase the quality of their products and services, to increase efficiency or if they seek to face the lack of skilled labor with more automation, robots and a more attractive working environment,” says Mads Andresen.

The Inwatec CEO appreciates his tours around the world, where he has the opportunity to spread the knowledge of the company’s solutions. At the same time, Mads Andresen emphasizes that dialogue with customers always have been paramount to develop the best products for the market.

“Ever since Inwatec was founded, our motto has been ‘Get out of the office – meet the customers.’ It has not changed, and when I listen to the questions asked in Philadelphia, Berlin, and Tokyo, I bring back essential ideas to our development team. Our innovation is all about meeting the needs of the laundries, and every time we tick of something on that list, I have more Inwatec products to announce the next time I take a trip around the world,” the CEO tells.

 

Mads Andresen’s next planned trip is also to Milan, where he, together with the rest of the Inwatec team, is in Hall 1, Stand E21 at ExpoDetergo 2018.

 

Inwatec makes a gazelle hat-trick

For the third consecutive year and fourth time overall, Inwatec will receive the “Gazelle Award” from Danish daily Børsen.

The Gazelle Prize is awarded to companies “which has achieved continuous growth in revenue or gross profit for the last four financial years, and which has, in total, more than doubled the revenue or the gross profit in the period.”

“We are very proud that we soon can put another Gazelle on the shelf next to the other three. This proves once again that we can make money while developing groundbreaking products and hiring a lot of new, skilled employees,” says Inwatec CEO Mads Andresen, who is pleased to have 40 employees today against just 4 five years ago.

Larger sales networks provide better development

At year-end 2018, JENSEN-GROUP, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of industrial laundry machines, purchased 30 percent of Inwatec, and at the same time, a sales partnership was made that enables Inwatec to benefit from JENSEN-GROUP’s worldwide sales and service network.

This cooperation is running smoothly, and Mads Andresen is convinced that the four Gazelles in the fireplace will get a fifth in a year, and if the development continues as expected, it will not be the last.

“Because we now have more people selling existing solutions worldwide, we have also had a better opportunity to develop new products for the portfolio. This means that we can continue to focus our efforts on what we do best, and we expect that we will see continuous growth to the same extent in the coming years,” says Mads Andresen who earlier this month was awarded Patent Nord’s “Innovation Award 2018” as well as a nomination for the final field of DIRA’s Automation Award.

Customer contact on all continents

Inwatec has in the past year put several new pins in the world map over customers’ locations, and today installations are located in, among others, China, the United States, Singapore, and most European countries, but the interest in the solutions is worldwide.

“A close and open dialogue with customers is paramount concerning uncovering areas where automation and robot solutions are most missed. There are very different challenges in the various markets, and we are invited to hold presentations on automation and robot solutions at industry conferences worldwide,” says Mads Andresen, who is currently in the US – next week is a visit to Japan on the calendar.

“In the early days of the company’s existence, of course, it took quite some time to explain what we actually could offer, but today everyone in the industry knows ‘The LaundryNerds’. And because we deliver unique products that support the increasing demands for quality and efficiency, the sales process has become somewhat shorter. For example, we have a Chinese customer who needed another system for a new laundry earlier in the year, and they did not even review the market again. They knew what we could deliver, and that was what they needed,” says Mads Andresen.

Here comes our new Robot Hero

Once again we are happy to welcome a new Laundrynerd on our team!

Darius Grigaliunas, a 22-year-old student, will support our software team as a student programmer. Since mid of September, he is at Inwatec for around two days per week. Originally he comes from Vilnius, Lithuania and did a Bachelor of Robotics at the Kaunas University of Technology.

In September he just started his Msc.in Robot Systems at SDU in Odense.

Darius is very interested in AI for robotics, especially in tasks that include motion control or decision making. “I am looking forward to being part of solving problems together with the Laundrynerds”.

He already gained work experience during an internship in his home country, where he got comfortable working with Linux and image processing. Many tools he used during his internship are the same, as he now applies at Inwatec. Still, the software differs. Currently, Darius is working on an X-Ray machine project, which includes the improvement of the identification of extraneous items in garments.

Our new Laundrynerd describes his first impressions as follows: “ The projects are very interesting and also challenging. That is great! Additionally, the working environment is pretty relaxed and everyone is friendly and extremely helpful.”

Darius got to know about Inwatec via Odense Robotics. He found the job vacancy for his current position at the Odense Robotics job bank and immediately applied. Check it out in case you are looking for a new challenge!

Welcome to the #WeAreRobotHeroes-Community!

Experienced electrician joined our production team

Jens Illum is 46 years old and started as an Electrician at Inwatec in July 2018. He lives in Glamsbjerd on Funen with his family and their two cats. Jens used to do taekwondo in his free time. However now, Jens prefers to spend his spare time with his three children and go out to enjoy the nature.

During the day, Jens likes being and working at Inwatec. He adds: “At Inwatec, they do a lot for the employees to be comfortable. I also think it’s easy to talk to the boss, it’s like we are equal, and that’s great. We are not just a number!”

After school, Jens did an apprenticeship as a house electrician in a small company and worked in this field until 2006. From then on, Jens was building electrical control units for different kinds of machines. For the past 1.5 years, Jens was even working on many projects for Inwatec’s machines. Now, being directly employed at Inwatec, Jens is still building control units as an electrician, but describes that it is nevertheless different from his previous jobs:

“The work itself is not really different, it’s more the company and the colleagues. It’s really easy to work with everybody, also with the engineers at the office for example.”

He also appreciates that now, he can see the control systems being directly installed in Inwatec’s machines. “It helps me to give me a better understanding of the machines and what I do with the components”, Jens explains.

Also, Jens finds the development processes at Inwatec fascinating.

“It’s very interesting, especially the units with the robots technique! Sometimes I wonder, ‘where do all the ideas come from?’ – that’s just interesting. Just to come up with the idea to make those machines, that’s crazy. All those ideas!”

“I have been here for three months now, which is not really a long time, but I think it’s just a good company. I like it.”

Automation provides a better working environment in a hospital laundry

A new plant with an increased focus on effective automation solutions and staff safety was put to the test to the utmost when a fire put a sister company out of service. From one day to another, the number of uniforms for washing increased by 60%.

In 2017, Koncernservice Vask in Nykøbing F., Denmark, a laundry servicing three regional hospitals in Sjælland, decided to focus on automated handling of garments where it is possible. The solution was implemented following a public tender, including a combination of Inwatecs Robot Separator, X-ray scanner, and an UHF-RWS sorting system.

The installation was finally implemented in spring 2018, and according to Thomas Petersen, Production Manager, no one has regretted the choices that released labor for other tasks in the laundry, while at the same time doing the work with the soiled site laundry more efficiently and less risky for the employees.

“The working environment has become more comfortable because we have a simpler workstation where the dirty clothes enter the system. One person can actually manage all the handling, but sometimes we have two on the job because some of the jerseys have to be reversed, “says Thomas Petersen.

Involuntary test of capacity

The plant is designed for a capacity of around 1400 uniforms per hour, and with 10 hours of daily operation, it met the requirements for production. However, the requirements were soon to change significantly.

Shortly after the installation, the plant at Nykøbing F. Hospital came for an involuntary test when a hospital laundry in Holbæk burned down and went out of service. This meant that the laundry from Holbæk laundry had to be handled and washed in Nykøbing F.

Instead of the usual three hospitals, the list of clients grew to 6 hospitals, and from one day to another 60%, more uniforms had to be handled. The challenge was solved by extending the opening hours of the plant.

“Usually we work from 6:00 to 16:00, but after the fire, we’re working from 6 am to 11 pm, and with that setup, the production of uniforms for all six hospitals can be handled thanks to the Inwatec solution,” says Thomas Petersen.

Automation and X-ray provide speed and security

In addition to proving that the system could also handle unforeseen problems, Thomas Petersen is above all pleased that the original designs are resolved as expected. Not at least, his employees no longer have to have their hands in all the pockets.

“The X-ray solution finds almost everything, and we do not have to fear any cut injuries, so we have hardly any challenges in that area. Previously, we had four people who checked and emptied the pockets on the dirty laundry, but now we can do with one and a half, where one also helps to turn the shirts. That station is right next to it, so it’s easy to switch between tasks, “says Thomas Petersen.

“The robot separates about 1,400 units per hour, after which they are passed through the chip reader and X-ray before they are automatically sorted into eight categories. One bin is reserved for uniforms with items in the pockets. They are rejected in the first bin, after which they can be reviewed further before they are returned to the system with empty pockets,” says the production manager who display a whole bucket of pens, scissors, name tags and a lot of other unwanted items as proof of the daily catch.

In addition to sorting the laundry so that it is ready for washing, the handling also ensures a higher quality in production, as the number of errors is the sorting is kept to a minimum.

“We have allocated a bin to the readings where the chip is not recognised or where two chips from different washing categories have been registered together, so we do not mix the laundry. Therefore, in our plant, we have six divisions for uniforms. We sort all white pants together, all dark clothes collectively and so on, but it is not something we are bound to if we need to change our production,” says Thomas Petersen.

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: