VORTEX mat rollers help Unifirst improving productivity

Claes Stanley, CTO at Inwatec, together with Kevin Forcier, Industrial Engineer at UniFirst

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.

Employee-friendly workflow

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.

From laundry to laundry machine supply

At the beginning of August, our team gained another strong support with Jens Plesner Nissen (39 years old) who took on a newly created position as Project Sales Engineer. Together with our customers, he takes a closer look at their laundry work environments aiming to find the best design and placement for our machines or systems to deliver the best possible and most efficient laundry processes and results. 

In his spare time, Jens has a passion for hunting and everything related. Whenever there is time he takes his dog and spends time in the forests of Denmark or Sweden. Now it is his own dog only, but he also used to train German Shepherds a couple of years ago.

Originally Jens comes from Billund where he started his career as an automation engineer at the Lego factory. He then decided to move to Svendborg, where he still lives today, to study Marine Engineering. Next to University he started working at the laundry group DFD Odense where he ended up working for almost 8 years in a management position. One of his tasks was the design and installation of garment dispensers. It was during his time at DFD Odense where he first got in touch with Inwatec machines that were ordered by the company. 

“I knew Inwatec from my time in the Laundry business. We purchased machinery from Inwatec, and occasionally supplied Inwatec with material for testing, e.g. mixed garments, mats, etc.”

Before he switched from working with laundry to now selling Inwatec’s laundry machines he worked as a Department Manager in the production of MHI Vestas in Lindø. In his management position there he was responsible for up to 70 employees producing the hub for the 9MW Offshore wind turbine. 

Away from the Offshore business towards customer contact, project work and design after a month at Inwatec Jens says:

“This is a new position and challenge for me. I am really looking forward to work with all the super-competent people here. It is stimulatory to work in a team of specialists. I also look forward to meeting our customers. I think the laundry business is a very interesting business. There is a lot of dirty and arduous work out there, and Inwatec has some very good solutions to eliminate it, and save money for our customers.”

Welcome Jens, we are delighted to have you on the team!


Would you like to become part of our team? Check out our open positions here.

Public laundry aims for more automation

The public laundry in the Swedish city of Alingsås, located 50 kilometers outside Gothenburg, has been through a significant automation process this spring. The goals were to improve the working environment and to increase productivity.

Malin Schiller, Manager at Tvätteriet Alingsås

“The management of the laundry has decided that we must work long term and invest in the laundry. Initially, it is about the working environment for our employees, but of course, the economy is also an essential factor as well,” tells manager Malin Schiller.

The new soiled side sorting setup at Alingsås includes four robot separators and two x-ray scanners, and up to 6.000 pieces of garments can be processed every hour with a minimum of human interaction.

“Before, we had 12 people examining the clothes at the light tables. They turned the clothes inside-out and examined all pockets to check for foreign objects. Now it’s handled by the machines, and we have only one operator on the task. The machine finds out by X-ray whether there is anything in the clothes or not,” Service Manager Cora Magnusson explains.

Cora Magnussen, Service Manager at Tvätteriet Alingsås

According to the service manager, most of the time was used on performing redundant pocket inspections.

“It is only 2-4 percent of the clothes that has something hidden in the pockets. It can be anything – things from care, phones, money, and so on. But most of the pockets are empty, and now the machine ignores those clothes in the process. It means that we have a safer and faster delivery now,” Cora Magnusson tells.

The extra hands are now allocated to other tasks in the laundry, and the daily routines are changing in a rotational schedule to keep the workload as low as possible.

Cora Magnussen adds: “Now it is less tedious, so it is better for ergonomics, body, and health. Getting to work is more fun when you have varied tasks.”

Laundry employee Sofia Wangvald agrees on that assumption. She has been working at Alingsås both before and after the new setup:

Now, only those garments containing foreign objects have to be handled manually by the laundry’s employees.

“We become more like mechanical engineers than wear workers, as we were when we checked all the pockets and all the clothes. The machine scanning the pockets is the most significant development that has happened at the laundry in the five years I have been here. It is an excellent investment for the future,” Sofia Wangvald tells.

According to manager Malin Schiller, there will be more investments in the future.

“Investing in the picker and x-ray scanner is a starting point for our continued development in the laundry. You could say that this is the first phase, and we are working hard to move towards more automation where possible,” Malin Schiller reveals.

Successful Clean Show 2019 in New Orleans

North America’s largest dry cleaning, laundering, and textile care trade show, The Clean Show 2019, took place from June 20 to 23 in New Orleans.

We would like to thank everybody who came by, it was a pleasure meeting so many laundry enthusiasts and laundrynerds from North America!

Together on one booth with our partner, the JENSEN-GROUP, we presented the THOR robot separator, our X-ray ODIN which automatically detects foreign objects, and the new vision based HEIMDAL identification that enables sorting by color, pattern or fabric structure instead using RFID. It was such positive feedback to hear that we are famous for reliable and efficient mat rollers in the US. Therefore, we were even happier to introduce our new customizable TYPHOON roll-through model.

The four days at the exhibition have been really exciting for Inwatec, as it was very busy around our machines. Take a look at some impressions below:

Focus on international communication: Meet our marketing student assistant

We are very happy to introduce Theresa Kittendorf, great support for Inwatec’s marketing and communication activities! The 26-year-old German started as our student assistant in international communication in March.

Before Theresa moved to Odense for her Brand Management and Marketing Communication Master’s studies, she lived in Berlin and worked for the German railway company Deutsche Bahn.

Theresa holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a focus on services. Her studies were built up as a dual education. Dual education is very common in Germany and combines theory at university and practical experiences at a company. During this time, Theresa had the chance to explore various facets of Human Resources, as she worked in different HR departments, ranging from merely operational to strictly strategic ones. After her graduation, Theresa continued to work in the field of HR at the company and was able to focus on the special field of talent management. Among others, her routines included internal communication on a social media platform as well as performing internal marketing activities for talent events and company fairs. At Deutsche Bahn, Theresa had more than 300,000 colleagues, all working within diverse fields, countries, and continents.

Now, working as one of 50 employees at Inwatec, Theresa explains: “I like the fact that Inwatec is comparably small and it is actually possible to know all the colleagues and see them working on the different tasks and challenges at Inwatec. Also being able to see the machines, ask questions about how they work and learn a bit more about the technologies behind is very exciting.”

As a student assistant in international communication, Theresa is editing, updating and translating manuals for all machines to make the documents best understandable for the operators in the laundries worldwide. In addition, Theresa performs different marketing tasks, such as creating and publishing content on Inwatec’s social media profiles and the corporate website.

“I am very happy about being part of Inwatec. Everyone is really friendly, welcoming and helpful and the overall atmosphere is just like the one I was hoping to find. There is also a lot of new things to learn and even though the machine names can still be confusing sometimes it is exciting to see them in action and get to know more details about their features.”

Theresa enjoys, that she can work on projects from the very beginning until delivery to the customer. She further points out that it is very exciting that she can go to the workshop and try out the functions of the different machines herself at any time. That makes her work more fulfilling, as she points out: “Being able to see what exactly the work we are doing is done for is so much more rewarding than just sitting in an office looking at the screen all the time.”

In her free time, Theresa enjoys playing volleyball in a mixed team in Odense. Additionally, she has been volunteering for the successful event TEDxOdense, which took place mid-April. She volunteered in the position of Audience Experience Team Lead, where she was responsible for the organization of the welcoming procedures and networking activities to enable the perfect conditions for an overall positive experience for the event’s guests.

Theresa adds that she really enjoys watching tennis, although she is not playing it herself. “Most of the time I end up watching alone because no one else is interested. Maybe I can find a new companion at Inwatec who is as fascinated about watching tennis as I am”, Theresa wonders.

Thank you for all your support for our communication activities, Theresa! We are so glad to have you on our team.


Would you like to become part of our team? Check out our open positions here.

Efficient and error-free human-machine interaction

With the increasing use of technology and automation in commercial machinery, the operation of many new systems is becoming very complicated. Therefore, the human-machine interaction is an important aspect to concentrate on in the machine development. It can have a significant impact on employee satisfaction and production efficiency. Resulting in the requirement to integrate the operator’s needs in its design and eventually creating it as simple to use as possible.

Even complex machines should be easy to operate

“Interface design is often neglected in the sector of industrial machines. However, it is important when it comes to efficiency and error-free operation”, tells Vanessa.

In January this year, Vanessa finished her Master’s studies in Product Development and Innovation at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense. At Inwatec she first worked as a student employee and then investigated Inwatec’s current interface design at the mat roll machines during an ‘InCompany’ period. For her final thesis, Vanessa continued her research and created a new interface prototype for the HURRICANE mat roller.

“Inwatec designs machines to make the interaction as easy as possible for all stakeholders involved in the development and operation process“, she explains.

Designing according to people’s needs – Inwatec’s priority

Vanessa submitted her thesis at the beginning of January 2019 and is very happy about her project and Inwatec’s goals:

“I love how Inwatec creates smart machines, that simplify working processes but also how the company cares about the people being involved in the development process as well in the usage of the machines.”

In the development process, Inwatec emphasizes the great importance of considering the operator of the machine from day one to result in machines that are both user-friendly and safe to operate. Opinions of customers and own employees are highly valued and essential for all kind of improvement processes. Vanessa did not only create a prototype but also directly performed tests with various stakeholders.

“It was great to get feedback right away and to have the chance to improve the prototype again and again.”


Are you interested in doing your thesis, an internship or any other university-related project in collaboration with Inwatec? Check out our open positions.

Streamlining and automation ensures jobs

Interview with Pernille Lundvang, Laundry Manager at MidtVask in Aarhus

MidtVask in Aarhus, Denmark, is a publicly owned company which only cleans for the public and especially for the hospital industry.

Here, laundry manager Pernille Lundvang also sees the necessity to improve efficiency for lowering prices – and thus stay in the fight for public tenders, which are the only ones the laundry are allowed bid in on as a publicly owned company.

For the same reason, the 150 employees, which are distributed in almost 40 nationalities, are very keen about the introduction of modern technology in the company, which was named Denmark’s Best Workplace in 2018.

For example, MidtVask has invested in Inwatec’s Soiled Side-sorting-system that automates the handling of dirty garments coming into the laundry.

“We have a goal of being among Denmark’s healthiest workplaces. That is why automation and, among other things, the Soiled Side Sorting-system from Inwatec is something that really moves us in the right direction. It removes needles and removes scissors, so there is no risk of cutting. At the same time, we avoid a lot of unilateral, repeated work. So it helps to better both our competitiveness and our working environment and health,” tells laundry manager Pernille Lundvang.

“There is often someone who asks if the employees are not afraid of the strong streamlining we are doing with Inwatec. No, on the contrary. If we do not optimize all we can, we will lose our work. Automation and robotics are the only way we can be competitive and ensure that we have a workplace in the future. So from all colleagues we have a great thumbs up – that’s what we have to do,” says Pernille Lundvang, who can also see a swift ROI on the system.

MidtVask’s employees are very happy about the new X-ray scanning results

“We have saved two employees compared to our old setup. So it’s a machine that has an ROI of fewer than three years. It’s excellent. At the same time, our products are made with care and care for the people who work here. It is not only to raise efficiency and to lower the prices. Our customers also really like to do business with us because they know that we focus on being a workplace with great emphasis on being diverse and because we have a good working environment,” she underlines.

Inwatec’s Sorting System was directly integrated with the existing bag system.

The Danish Robots and Automation Adventure has just begun

In a recent analysis, the national robot partnership Robotics Alliance, for the first time put figures on the development of the Danish robotics industry. Not surprisingly, the review shows that the overall contribution of the Danish robot and automation industry to the Danish economy is increasing significantly.
While today’s 300 automation and robotic companies traded $ 2.7 billion in 2018 the number is estimated to grow up to $ 7.6 billion by 2025, bringing the industry on par with established industries such as those of fashion or food ingredients.

The analysis shows that the activity is most significant in Denmark’s robot capital, Odense, where Inwatec operates. Selling robot and automation solutions for the laundry industry, Inwatec has experienced a tenfold increase in sales over the past five years, and director Mads Andresen has no doubt that the positive stories about and experiences with Danish technology have spread widely around the world.

“The level of education in Denmark is very high. This means that a lot of young people graduate from our universities and that talents from all over the world are coming to Denmark to finish their education. Also, because of the concentration of companies in the robot cluster Odense Robotics, we have plenty of jobs to offer to skilled people who want to join the robot industry. And it is essential for all of us to get the labor we need,” says Mads Andresen, who founded Inwatec in 2009 and employs nearly 50 employees today.

CEO Mads Andresen on the THOR Robot Separator

“I was educated in the city, and I lived here when I founded Inwatec. Obviously, it often goes like that, and there is no doubt that the cluster of robot companies has grown considerably because of all the people educated in Odense. Also, the city’s efforts to strengthen the education and facilities for the companies only stimulate further development. In addition to the robot companies, the figures in the analysis show that success in one industry pays off for subcontractors in other industries. And we have only seen the beginning,” states Mads Andresen.

The whole world is demanding an increase in production
In some countries, the use of robots and automation solutions accounts for 10 percent of their total national growth, the analysis illustrates. Furthermore, the industry’s productivity per employee increases with the number of robots.

While so far mainly Korea, Japan, and Germany have invested in robots, not least because of the automotive industry, they can be found all over the world more and more.
This also applies to the laundry industry:
“We have our biggest market in Europe right now, but growth is strong in the US, Japan, China and the rest of Asia and Australia, and soon we will probably have machines on all continents. The biggest challenge is to ensure that we have the hands and brains that we need to develop and produce. But there is a strong political will to build on the success in Odense and in Denmark, and therefore I am not afraid that we cannot find the labor force”, says Mads Andresen, who expects both revenue and the number of employees at Inwatec to double within the coming years.

Today, 8,500 Danes are employed in the robot industry, and according to the analysis, there are prospects for up to 17,000 more jobs in the industry until 2025. Hence, more investments in education and research within robots and automation are required.

Find more information in English here.
For the full report in Danish click here.

What makes a good duo? One assembly technician and one software engineer, we’d say

Mads Ludvigsen Jensen (Technician) & Phillip Meyer Kyndbøl (Software engineer and robot technology student)

About one and a half months ago our team grew further by two young and engaged men who will from now on be involved in building and developing our machines.

Mads is 27 years old, is trained as a stainless steel smith in 2013 and then started to gain first working experiences at Haarslev Industries and Siemens Wind Power and Fiotek.
Phillip is 23 years old and supports us as a software engineer next to his robot technologies studies at SDU in Odense. With his personality and experience from school projects, he left such a positive impression that he signed his contract on the day of the job interview which then also was his first day at Inwatec. That must have been the fastest hiring process in the history of Inwatec.

While Mads is involved in assembling processes of our machines from the very start to the finished product, Phillip helps to add the software and checks if all motors and sensors are working as they are supposed to.

Mads about his new position: “The most interesting part from my point of view is the fact that you are a part of the machine from the start until the very end! Besides that, as a kid I played with LEGO a lot, I like assembling and seeing the results in full function.”

From his earlier work with hydraulic and windmills, Mads is now excited to learn more about the laundry machinery and using his experience to do so. For both his previous jobs he used to travel a lot. Even though it was exciting to travel to England, Norway, Sweden, and Germany to install different machinery, Mads now enjoys the fact of being in his home country not having to travel further than from Strib, where he lives now, to Odense. In his spare time, he works out a lot, enjoys playing video games and also does some mechanical work from time to time.

Next to university and his job at Inwatec Phillip likes to start DIY projects that range from programming robots to carving longbow in wood to doing traditional blacksmithing. Next to programming and craftsmanship, he likes to hike in nature with his backpack on.

About his job, he says: “I find automation and big machines exiting, and a lot of that can be found at Inwatec. I really look forward to the point where I get more familiar with the existing codes, so I can easily add new functionality to it.”

“I love it! They’re all amazing people! Always positive and cooperative!”, Mads.
“I really like to work at Inwatec. Everybody is nice, and you can always ask someone and get help.”
With their nice words about us, we would like to say that we are more than happy to have won two more young and engaged talents for our team. Welcome #laundrynerds Mads and Phillip!


Would you like to become part of our team as well? Check out our open positions here.