From outer space to the laundry universe – our new software developer Jeppe

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.

Private customers subscribe to clothing in China

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.

Production Manager at Fornet, Shanghai

 

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.

Inwatec’s Software Engineer Tudor at the installation

“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.


Full speed at EXPOdetergo: 15.4 tons passed the X-ray

Inwatec’s booth in the morning – the lull before the storm

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.

We experienced a great interest in the Robot Separator

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.

The X-ray machine automatically detects foreign items such as pens, needles, and similar.

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:

Annual meeting in Germany – Gütezeichen Jahrestagung 2018

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!

Mads Andresen and Christina Solbach-Schmidt in Kassel, Germany

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.