A master thesis related to garment and linen handling sounds unusual at the first glance, hence if the topic is related to Artificial Intelligence (AI) it will be a really interesting as well as challenging project. Laus combines precisely these two subjects in his thesis. He writes about developing AI to find the best gripping points of laundry articles and is totally satisfied with his choice.
“I definitely wanted to write my master thesis in a topic involving AI, as this is a big part of the future and of technology in general,” says the student. Laus is studying Robot Systems – Advanced Robotics Technology at the SDU in Odense. You might have read about him before, as he started a student job at Inwatec in July. In case you missed that, check the story out here.
From collecting data for that project in his student job, Laus then went on with this topic for the thesis and solves other issues during his student job now.
His master thesis is in total 40 ECTs. Laus needs to gather 10 ECTs this semester and will spend even more time at Inwatec from February to gain the other 30 ECTs during his last semester.
The student is still at the very beginning of teaching the robot via reinforcement learning. In here the machine is learning by trial and error and it for sure will take some time until the final aim is reached.
Also at Inwatec the focus is on trying things out and learning by doing. Laus really likes this work attitude including a lot of freedom and flexibility and he tells: “My main goal is to learn something new every day.”
He really likes spending a lot of time at the workshop and he enjoys the possibility to see how the robot actually moves. Laus has a lot of space to implement own ideas and test them. “Playing around with the machines and gaining practical knowledge is great,” in Laus’ opinion.
The robotic student really values the nice and helpful colleagues and likes that everyone is honestly interested in the different projects that are going on.
Best wishes for continued success with your master thesis!
Are you interested in doing your thesis, an internship or any other university-related project in collaboration with Inwatec? Check out our open positions.
Every year, almost 4,000 apprentices from the different educations at Syddansk Erhvervsskole (Business College of Southern Denmark) have the opportunity to nominate their workplace the apprenticeship employer of the year. We are very proud to announce that Inwatec was awarded the 2018 edition. Automation technician apprentice Thomas Johannes Mortensen was the man behind the nomination.
“When I arrived at Inwatec, I was immediately given responsibility of testing testing machines, power boards and more … Whenever I faced problems on how to perform the tasks, I got help right away, as well as an explanation of what / how / why … I’m happy when I go to work and enjoy everything we do. Even the work that can be boring in the long run is done with a smile on my face,” wrote Thomas Johannes Mortensen.
The award is based on the following criteria: academic, collegial, management, guidance, and social. And Deputy Director of the South Danish Business School, Mette Tram Pedersen, who was part of the panel that picked the winner of the candidates, emphasized at the award ceremony that Inwatec fully meets the criteria when reading the recommendation from Thomas Johannes Mortensen:
“As an educational institution, we worry about teaching, while the apprenticeship places teach the students how to behave in a company. Both socially but also professionally with customers. The good relations between the colleagues is emphasized in Thomas’s recommendation, and he feels that he is on equal terms with the rest of the team regardless of whether it is birthday celebrations, Friday BBQs or business trips,” says Mette Tram Pedersen.
Proud boss praises colleagues
“It’s extraordinary for us that Thomas has nominated Inwatec to be apprenticeship employer of the year. Of course, I’m incredibly proud of that. Thomas emphasizes all the good things that Inwatec would like to be known for, but with apprentices like him it’s now also effortless to perform well. He is a gold nugget; a bundle of energy that always spreads a good mood wherever he is,” Mads Andresen stated before he forwarded the honors for the award:
“In fact, it’s mainly the workshop colleagues who earn the credit for the award. They know when Thomas needs to be teased – and Thomas also knows when he needs to reciprocate,” the Inwatec CEO said.
Inwatec just received the third Gazelle growth award in a row, our fourth overall, from business daily Børsen, and for Mads Andresen, it’s important to emphasize that growth and innovation are closely linked to the recruitment of both apprentices, graduates, and specialists.
Since Inwatec was founded in 2009, the company has continuously put considerable effort into spreading the word, and that strategy is not going to change.
“We work with all the knowledge and education institutions in Odense and surrounding areas, and we do everything we can to show how exciting it is to work in our field. Obviously, we need some of those who get trained, and I think that Inwatec as a company, have a social commitment to invest in the youth, “says Mads Andresen, who hired a high school pupil not long ago.
“In the spring we had two boys from 8th grade in school practice, and they had so much spark and enthusiasm that we ended up hiring one of them, Mustafa, in a study job. So now he is helping us with some artificial intelligence projects. That’s also pretty great, ” Mads Andresen says smiling.
Dive deeper into the topic of the detection of foreign elements in laundry articles and the difficulties regarding this task with Inwatec’s first white paper.
The paper helps in understanding the complex issue by pointing out challenges based on research findings within technology and current market development. In the end, it presents an innovative solution, developed by Inwatec, which removes the pain points within soiled side handling and guarantees a highly efficient and accurate workflow.
At the beginning of November, Jeppe Salomon Hvidkjær Clausen joined our team to support our project department in software engineering.
“So far I like it a lot. I have been received nicely by everyone and the place appears to have a good ‘young’ vibe to it.”
Before Jeppe started at Inwatec, he has been working as a software developer at Danish aerospace company (DAC) for almost four years.
Jeppe is 28 years old and lives in Tårup, close to Nyborg, together with his wife Christina and their kids Magnus and Valdemar. Most of Jeppe’s spare time is dedicated to being with his family and his sons of 3 years and 11 months. Besides meeting with friends, he also enjoys doing gardening and maintenance works at his house. In the winter season, Jeppe occasionally goes hunting.
Already during his education in electrical engineering with a specialization on embedded software development, Jeppe took a 6-months-internship period to gather relevant practical experience. At the internship, Jeppe was programming microcontrollers for Falck Schmidt defense systems’ masts and designed electrical schematics and PCB’s.
Developing equipment for manned space flights
After finishing his degree, Jeppe started at DAC with a focus on embedded software development. He has been involved in all aspects of the development cycle: participating in designing systems, implementation, and finally the actual in-field-usage of the applications and hardware.
“At DAC, they make medical and training equipment for manned space flights,” explains Jeppe. “One of the bigger projects I have participated in was developing the prototype for their new rather advanced training equipment combining multiple exercises capabilities in a relatively small form factor.”
This equipment Jeppe worked on will soon be tested by ESA and NASA on the International Space Station (ISS) for future use on the ‘International Lunar Orbital Platform’ that is planned to be established in the orbit around the Moon. Read more about the project Jeppe worked on at DAC here.
Besides the hardware development, DAC also acts as one of the decentralized control centers for the space station. Jeppe participated in many live orbit sessions where the crew was using DAC’s equipment. Another big part of his previous job was focused on documentation and performing lab tests of the software development there.
New challenges at Inwatec
Now, with his new job at Inwatec, Jeppe is diving into a new universe: the industrial laundry industry. With his first project, he is directly getting started on a double sorting line for a large laundry in Italy:
“I’m primarily going to be focusing on the automation software (PLC programming). The setup consists of two identical lines having an LF and HF RFID reader, an X-ray machine, a reject line, and 6 Silos, meaning that this machine is HUGE! Which I think is kinda cool,” explains Jeppe.
Jeppe enjoys that at Inwatec, processes are fast, as everybody is free in testing new approaches without having to go through extensive approval procedures and documentation. Also, he points out that he very much likes Inwatec’s practical approach to solving basic needs for a company by using mostly cloud-based solutions.
“Currently, I am looking forward to taking the code I am working on and putting it on the machines in the workshop. A small section is being set up at this moment in the workshop. And I know from experience that getting to know how a system works is just so much easier when you have the machines right there to play with. The next thing I am excited for is going to Italy and actually setting my up my first machine together with some of the other “nerds” and the craziest thing is that it is in just about 3 months! I have a steep learning curve and many lines of code ahead of me”, Jeppe smiles.
Welcome to the Laundrynerds, Jeppe. We are glad to have you in our team!
Are you ready for new challenges as well? Check out our open positions here.
As technology evolves, business opportunities arise for industrial laundries.
An example of the development is found a mere two-hour drive outside of Shanghai in the city of Nantong, where Fornet Laundry Service has a production facility for an unusual customer who runs an internet clothing rental service.
The rental company addresses private customers who can choose which clothes they want to wear in the coming days with an internet-based subscription solution. When the garments need to be washed, they are returned to the rental company, and then the customer can choose another dress, a different pair of other trousers, or something else.
To make the solution profitable and to keep the stock as low as possible, the returned items must be registered, quality assured, sorted, washed and pressed, so everything is ready for the next customer who has ordered it.
This is where Fornet Laundry Services comes into the picture, and in order to secure a fully integrated process the Fornet laundry is located in a building between two warehouses of the rental company.
Simple workstations provide high quality
Among the early investments was an Inwatec RFID sorting system that ensures that the clothes are sorted correctly before washing.
“It is a fascinating challenge when we have to handle so many different types of clothes. We have over 30,000 different garments in the database, and we have them mapped with different sorting logic, so we separate items for dry cleaning and get the right colors and textile types in the right washing machines,” explains Lei Pai, Manager at Fornet.
In the unpacking area, the operator unpacks the returned parcel, checks for defects and wear, scans the barcode to update the system, and then attaches the RFID chip with a rubber band. The chip and barcode are then paired in the system database and that way all relevant data on the individual piece of clothing is preserved and processed correctly.
Fornet is using HF-RFID chips, as it is the most suitable in terms of workstations spacing to avoid reading the wrong chip as it could happen with UHF.
“The customer has focused on keeping the workstations as ergonomic as possible, and also the HF-RFID solution made it economically viable to put scanners up at all tables in the unpacking department. That way everything is checked, scanned and marked correctly when the units are put on the conveyor belt that leads to the sorting for further processing, and we can maintain high production capacity without sacrificing quality,” Lei Pai states further.
Manual handling with an automatic twist
The initial quality control is carried out by employees, who will, among other things, handle damaged garments. There are no plans to do alternate that part of the setup, but when it comes to the rest of the process, Fornet will automate as much as possible.
“Sorting is very labour intensive, so it’s a big win that we can handle it automatically. We have 13 bins with static sorting to ensure that the same type of garments ends in the same place. If we move the positions we risk more human errors,” says Lei Pai, who in early September had a trouble-free grand opening of the laundry with a lot of interested guests.
“We have launched production with an existing inventory, where all garments were not mapped optimally in relation to how it should be washed. However, we are well prepared to adjust that on the run and with all the new garments that come in, we know how to get all parameters correctly set up, and our logic in the sorting can also be optimised accordingly,” Lei Pai tells.
Good service and openness
Fornet Laundry Services operates several laundries around China, and since the company previously purchased a larger Inwatec system with x-ray and RFID sorting to a department in Shanghai, there was no hesitation in sending a new order to Denmark when the project in Nantong was to be implemented:
“We were in Denmark to see a system in a hospital, and we realised that it was a great idea for the laundry in Shanghai. The solution has worked as we wanted, and we also had an excellent dialogue about this project too,” says Lei Pai, stressing that the distance from Nantong to Inwatec in Odense is irrelevant.
“When we need support for the technology or software, it’s always on time, and we were completely confident in choosing Inwatec again. There was no doubt,” says Lei Pai.
Thank you for the massive attention at Inwatec’s stand at EXPOdetergo in Milan! It was overwhelming.
Fortunately, this time our designers had created an infinite loop, where some conveyors made sure that both the separator and the x-ray scanner were fully employed without our help.
During the four days, the system was running non-stop, and we are proud to tell that FRIGG the robot and ODIN the X-ray scanner in average separated and scanned for unwanted items in the pockets on 1,600 pieces of garments per hour during the exhibition, resulting in an entirely automated production volume of 15.4 tons!
It gave us time to talk to all the visitors without having to stop and re-load laundry into the system.
Apart from showcasing our soiled site sorting setup, we also could introduce our new TYPHOON mat roller together with the VORTEX.
We received a lot of great questions and contacts in Milan, and everyone at the office and at the workshop is working to get the full pressure to follow up on the inquiries.
If there was anything you forgot to ask in Milan or if you were not there, you can always call or write to us!
Watch a short video of the Robot Separator at the fair:
At the end of October, Inwatec again attended the annual conference of the ‘Gütegemeinschaft sachgemäße Wäschepflege e.V.‘ in Germany. With a small stand at the 'Gütezeichen Jahrestagung', we were able to present our latest developments such as the updated robot separator and the stack storage to the members of the German association.
The conference was a great chance for us to talk about how to fulfill the increasing hygiene requirements in Germany by using automation and robotics in laundries.
Most interest awoke the Stack Storage and the Robot Separator. Below, you can watch the videos we showed at the conference:
We would like to thank everybody who came to our stand in Kassel. We had many very inspiring conversations!
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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!