Inwatec’s automated mat sorting improves production stability

Two mat rollers with additional sorting and a big “sombrero” from Inwatec has helped Berendsen Finland while they have tripled their mat production capacity. So tells Kim Nordberg, who as Country Director at Berendsen Textile Service OY, who is in charge of the 60 people working at the facility in Tuusula, half an hour’s drive from the Finnish capital, Helsinki.

“Inwatec was our natural choice when selecting the supplier for the new mat line set up, due to former experience with them,” Kim Nordberg says.

The solution included a new HURRICANE mat roller, and a CYCLONE – Mat Carousel (they call it “The sombrero” in Tuusula). The new machines were placed side by side with the existing TORNADO Mat Roller.

Kim Nordberg explains: “Before, we had five persons working with the mat handling in two shifts. Today we have seven people, but we are only working in one shift, and we still managed to triple our production capacity!”

At the Tuusula plant, two persons are unloading the clean mats on the Inwatec Mat Carousel. The carousel serves as a buffer for the four persons responsible for rolling the mats and unloading the tables of rolled mats. Finally, two employees pack the mats, so they are ready for the routes.

“We used to run the production from 5:00 to 23:00, and now we are doing everything before 15:00 or 16:00 in the afternoon. We have a better working environment for the employees, and it’s better for the company as we are less vulnerable, having two CBW’s up and running. If we have break-downs, it’s easier to catch up the same day as we do have more free hours,” Kim Nordberg explains.

As in other parts of the laundry world, new employees are hard to find – and to keep – in Finland. And also, for that reason, Kim Nordberg is always keen on improving his plant.

“65 percent of our staff at Berendsen Finland have been working here for five years or more. But we always want to improve. We are always open to new solutions where we can improve productivity and employee satisfaction. If we are offered machines that help us in that regard, I’m all ears,” Kim Nordberg underlines.


Learn more about our newest mat roller TYPHOON and the automatic sorting. Do you have any questions? Please contact us here.

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.

VORTEX – small footprint, great impact

With its return-to-operator layout and the very small footprint, the VORTEX can be used in any laundry environment.

Since its launch in 2016, the demand for Inwatec’s VORTEX has increased steadily. In May 2018, we celebrated that machine number 100 left production in Odense, and a little more than a year later, we will see machine number 230 be packed in a container heading towards its final destination.

Despite the immense success with the VORTEX, we have decided to alter the design a bit, and after a lot of testing, we are now pleased to announce that we soon ship the first upgraded VORTEX machines from Inwatec.

The newly added feature is that the VORTEX mat roller can be ordered in a version with an integrated RFID scanner that allows the customer to register the mats that are being rolled automatically.

Update as a response to customer needs

CTO Claes Stanley is always involved in improving Inwatec’s mat rollers and their efficiency

“We have had a number of requests from customers who wanted to keep track of their inventory with RFID readers, and now we have found a solution that works well technically without changing the other properties of the machine,” says CTO Claes Stanley, who at the same time announces that all future VORTEX machines will be ready for the RFID reader option.

“With the new design, the VORTEX can quite easily be upgraded if the customer needs it later, even if the RFID reader was not a part of the original order,” he continues.

The VORTEX is characterized by a remarkably small footprint in relation to the production capacity. Because of the patented roll-over feature, the machine is loaded from the front, where the mat is also returned, rolled, and the design supports efficient one man-maneuvering.


View more information about the VORTEX here. Feel free to contact us for more information regarding the new RFID option.

HURRICANE – Mat Rolling with Cone-Correct

In the video, Simon Scheel Kaltoft, Project Manager at Inwatec, gives an overview of Inwatec’s Mat Rolling machine, called HURRICANE. It is the best performer compared to mat rollers on the market. The clean mats are loaded on the front side while getting the rolled ones out on the backside of the machine. Depending on the mat size and the experience of the operator, up to 450 mats can be rolled per hour.

The advantage of having a big inlet table on Hurricane is that the whole mat will be lying on top of the table. This ensures the possibility to see dust, dirty spots or holes in the mat. By pressing a button the mat can be rolled back to the operator to solve these issues. The Hurricane is designed with two belts on top. These are necessary to turn around the mats and to prevent coning. The cone correction feature is highly valuable as there is limited space in the transport truck.

The standard Hurricane can be upgraded due to several add-ons. Adding either an RFID antenna or a with sensor bar to the roll machine, makes it possible to automatically sort mats. Depending on the customers’ data are based it can be sorted either according to the length or width of the mats. Further, it is possible to add a binding machine. It wraps foil around the mat to keep them tight and well rolled. The binding machine can be extended by using a printer. Barcodes, text, logos or whatever could be benefitting from the certain laundry can then be printed on the foil.

The Hurricane allows an easy and safe use for the operator. Height adjustable legs make working on the machine more ergonomic. Every mat laundry can benefit from the Hurricane. Manual work will be reduced due to more efficiency while the mats are rolled in better quality.

100th VORTEX produced by Inwatec


At the beginning of May, we celebrated that Inwatec’s VORTEX number 100 left the workshop.

When Inwatec was established in 2009, leading focus was on how to make the most efficient and employee-friendly mat rolling machine on the market.

Until 2016 our products were large, high-capacity mat rolling machines with front loading and off-loading on the back. The design was simple, efficient and produced in a way that made maintenance easy for the customer. The machines were unique in the way that they used brushes instead of belts to roll the mats, but apart from that, they still looked pretty much as mat rollers from other brands used to do.

That changed in 2016 with the introduction of the VORTEX Mat Roller.

The VORTEX is characterized by a remarkably small footprint in relation to the production capacity. Because of the patented roll-over-feature, the machine is loaded from the front, where the mat also is returned, rolled, and the design supports efficient one man-maneuvering.

Average of 220 mats per hour

“Of course, I’m incredibly proud that the solution was received so well. We have finetuned the machine a bit, but basically, machine number 100 is the same as the first one we delivered. It makes me no less proud that the first machine still steadily rolls 220 mats per hour on average today,” says CEO Mads Andresen on the anniversary.

Today the VORTEX is represented worldwide – and the distance to Denmark is apparently no issue to the owners.

“Obviously there are quite a few units in Denmark and Scandinavia, but most of the VORTEX’ is currently shipped to the United States, where the model is our most popular mat roller. The distance does not matter to the customers; it’s plug-and-play, the machine is built mainly with standard components, so it is easy for the customer to fix mechanical failures quickly,” says Mads Andresen.

“Changes in the laundry business do not occur overnight, but we see that our VORTEX mat rollers are very well known today. The lead time is getting shorter, and today we often have pretty big orders, when a laundry chain needs new machines,” Mads Andresen explains.

Huebsch wants the best service for their customers

Jim Vaudreuil – President and CEO at Huebsch Services

In the 126-year-old company Huebsch Services, located in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, USA, ongoing efforts are being made to update the processes to ensure satisfied customers. In this interest, President and CEO Jim Vaudreuil visited Inwatec in Denmark.

“I think the technology is accelerating and creating a lot of opportunities. I see a lot of the problems that we face today can be solved with the technology that’s available: The UHF RF-chips are promising. I’m looking at one of the new mat rollers that we already have, and we’re going to be modifying it with UHF readers so that we can do additional sorting,” Jim Vaudreuil says.

Huebsch Services already uses tracking in several ways, and for that reason, the implementation of an advanced chip reader-system is high on the priority list:

“We track every garment as a unique asset. We use the chip to keep track of our inventory; we use it to ensure the quality that we’re promising. Is the customer getting exactly what they’re supposed to get, and when? And it helps us keep track of our costs,” he explains.

 

Jim Vaudreuil with their HURRICANE mat roller

Continuously aiming for improvements

Even though Huebsch Services has a long history and a lot of clients going decades back in time, Jim Vaudreuil is sure that it is necessary to always keep an eye on the development of the machines used in the production.

“We like to think of ourselves as innovators. I’m not sure that we really are, as much as that we’re never happy with what we have, and we know that we could improve, so we’re continuously trying to improve. I think the innovation is using technologies that are available, and it’s how we use it.  Almost all the technologies could be had by every one of our competitors, so it’s how do you use it that gives you the competitive advantage,” he continues.

Huebsch Services takes great care of having a high service level, and that is why Jim Vaudreuil visited Denmark; In search of the best ways to support the customers varying needs.

“I think we have certain advantages; we’re a smaller company; we’re very hands-on, and we do most of our development work. I think we have an advantage in that. We’re maybe a little bit closer to the customer and closer to their problem. The company of the future has to be specialised, and I think it has to embrace some of the technologies. That’s why I am here. We’ve been partnering with Inwatec in I don’t know how many years. We really like the Inwatec products, and we are able to partner with a company that’s really leading in the technology – and so what if we’re you know a 10-hour flight away,” he smiles.

Watch the full interview with Jim Vaudreuil:

Find more information on Inwatec’s machines for mat handling here.

Mat laundry Leko Matter continues to focus on automation

The Norwegian company Leko Matter, based in Oslo, decided to automate its mat laundry as much as possible in 2015. The result is a production where one employee alone handles 3.6 tons of mats each day. The mats are washed, rolled and sorted for about 3,000 customers.

“In the past, our drivers helped for more or less one hour to roll the mats. Luckily there’s no need for this anymore. The truck drivers deliver the dirty mats directly on a conveyor belt. Hence everything proceeds automatically from the washing and drying until the rolling of mats on our Inwatec Hurricane machine,” says Bjørn Leine, son of Leko Matters founder Bergtor Leine, and thus the second generation in the family business, founded in 1989.

Bjørn Leine has not doubt that the automation has been a success for Leko Matter, and for the same reason, the company is now thinking about further expansion of the system. “Our system can sort by six criteria, but we are in dialogue with Inwatec to invest in an additional sorting module so we can sort the mats into nine carts at a time,” says Bjørn Leine about the solution he and his colleagues have done in collaboration with Inwatec.

“The alternative had been to employ more people to keep up with the growth. Instead, we are saving a full-time job now, and I assess that the investment has paid back within two years,” Bjørn Leine continues.

Innovative partnership

“The projects we have with Leko Matter over the years gave us a lot of beneficial knowledge of the mat handling business and our company’s relationship has been a success from the very beginning”, Claes Stanley, Chief Technology Officer at Inwatec explains. “Leko Matter came to us with some specific requests”, says Claes Stanley. “Together we developed a modular sorting system that fits into their setup, and at the same time allows their business to grow even bigger.”

Emphasis on efficiency

“Leko Matter had a keen eye for the efficiency from the very beginning, and we are happy, that we have been able to meet their requests with our machines. Their setup is almost entirely automated. Only one person is needed to place the mats at the Hurricane Matroller. This process also allows to include a quality control of the washed mats,” Claes Stanley adds.

Where the original setup at Leko Matter allowed the Norwegian company to sort in six criteria, there is no upper limit on the number of how many sorting modules can be added. In the same way, it is possible to add RFID-scanner and a mat binding system to the mat rolling machine. “Today we have customers with similar setups all over Europe, in the United States and Canada. For Inwatec the partnership with Leko Matter proved that the value of understanding the customer is essential to ensure mutual success,” Claes Stanley states.


Find out more about our Hurricane Mat Rolling Machine and the Mat Sorting Conveyor on their detailed product pages.

No more handling of filthy mats at innovative German laundry


The German company MEWA Hameln has existed more than 50 years, but the business idea is all up to date. MEWA delivers work wear, mats, cleaning cloths and towel rolls in a full-service solution to more than 11,800 companies.

Recently a group of five persons from the MEWA headquarters in Wiesbaden together technical staff from the production unit in Hameln visited Inwatec in search for a machine that can improve the mat production.

“10 years ago we had a mat unloader that could help us get the dirty mats separated for cleaning, but unfortunately it wasn’t fulfilling our expectations. It’s our hope that the Inwatec-version will do so,” Julia Gerner, Group leader at MEWA Textil-Management, explains of the visit.

All in all, no less than 76.000 floor mats pass through the production lines at MEWA Hameln every month, and now MEWA tries to minimize the burden of the initial handling.
“It is heavy and filthy work, and we would very much like to have it automated in a way that both betters the ergonomics for the employees as well as the efficiency of the production and the quality of the final product,” Project Engineer Julia Kamenezkaja ads.

“We see ourselves as an innovative business, and we always have eyes open for implementation of new technologies that can improve the processes in our production line. If it were possible – and make sense economically – we would consider making the entire mat line fully automated,” says Julia Kamenezkaja.

Facts about MEWA Hameln:
Founded in 1951
300 employees work at the Hameln site that manages a total of 11,800 companies and generates sales of 54.6 million.
117,200 workers wear professional clothing delivered from MEWA Hameln.
Each month, 4 million cleaning towels, 76,000 floor mats and 6,300 towel rolls are processed and distributed there.
Read more about MEWA here (external website)


Watch a short introduction about our mat unloader in this video. Get more details about the automatic mat unloader here.

Vortex Mat Roller, now Patent Pending

Our patent pending Roll-Over-feature on the Inwatec Vortex Mat Roller enables the operator to prepare the next mat for rolling during the current rolling process.

Operating the Vortex is very simple: The operator feeds the machine with one mat, and when the next mat is loaded, the first is released to the operator.

This unique functionality optimizes the workflow, keeps the workload steady and removes waiting times. The Vortex roll machine is also equipped with safety light curtain and is designed for highest possible operator safety.

The Vortex easily rolls 260 mats/hour, and the small footprint fits into even the smallest laundries.

Patent publication details:
US Application No 15/170,892.
Publication No US-2017-0113893-A1

Read more about Inwatec Vortex Mat Roller right here

How to connect the SiteManager – Tutorial

How to connect the SiteManager

  1. Locate the Secomea SiteManager inside the power cab
  2. Make sure the device is powered on (green LED)
  3. Make sure DEV1 is connected to the touch panel (PLC)
  4. Connect a Ethernet cable with Internet connection to UPLINK1
  5. When ‘STATUS’ is Solid Green the device is online
  6. Contact us for further Information