Challenges for the textile service industry: A chance for change?25 January 2023
The many seemingly unsurmountable problems facing the industry post-Covid, knock-on effects from the Ukraine war and climate change could actually be the catalyst for change for the better, says Kannegiesser
In the landscape of the current economy, the laundry industry is facing tough challenges, notably: energy shortage, not enough employees, keeping the employees who are already there and, while handling these problems, keeping up quality standards. To have a successful and long-lasting future in the laundry industry it is imperative that companies evolve, welcome change and see some of the challenges for what they could be – possibilities.
Energy shortage: Paving the way for sustainability
In light of recent developments, gas and oil became scarce commodities. The prices are rising and many laundries are worried about how they are going to pay their energy bills in the years to come. Or if there will even be enough gas to power their machines and keep businesses running.
To counteract those rising prices, becoming more sustainable by reducing the resource requirements is an essential step. The use of new technologies now in research and development makes this possible.
Following these three steps is fundamental for becoming a sustainable and future-safe business:
1. Reduce demand: Each process step has to be analysed and energy-optimised regarding possible savings of resources.
2. Optimise the laundry: Ensuring already utilised energy stays in the system through energy recovery systems.
3. Improve remaining energy supply: An efficient and future-proof energy supply can be assured by adapting the heating concept to local and structural conditions.
Energy efficient equipment also opens up possibilities to apply for certificates and subsidies. A quick win with only a relatively small investment could be to switch out an old press for a new Kannegiesser PowerPress. For example, at a performance of 1,5 t/h , the steam cost of €/t.70 and the residual moisture reduction by replacing the press from 52% down to 38%, the annual savings at a single-shift operation can be around €60,000
Switching to a more sustainable process is not only beneficial for the bank account, but also for the environment. A classic win-win scenario.
Staff shortage: A better and more productive work environment through innovation
Shortage of staff is a problem across all industries and skilled employees are hard to come by. To keep the people that are already there, it is essential to create healthy and pleasant working conditions through ergonomics without compromising high productivity, because in the end, the feeding performance of the operator determines the output of the feeding machine. This is a balancing act and an issue many laundries are dealing with on a daily basis.
Kannegiesser puts a lot of emphasis on ergonomics in research and development. And the results show that it is absolutely possible to combine ergonomics and productivity.
The ergonomic design of the feeding machine SynchroRemote for example, reduces strain on operators by up to 37 % and increases productivity by up to 37,5 % in comparison to conventional feeders. An independent study by the ErgoCert Insitution affirmed that accomplishment.
Another approach to solving the staff problem is to invest in automation and robotisation. Which brings a new challenge along: the need to seamlessly integrate it into the existing workflow. That’s why a manufacturer, that not only supplies the equipment but also provides the matching logistics solutions for the entire laundry operation, is an invaluable partner in this endeavour.
With eVue, Kannegiesser provides a single control interface for the entire laundry operation. The web-based process control software offers operators and management in laundries a reliable and intuitive system for full transparency and control over their production process. It ensures laundry operations at maximum capacity using high-developed diagnostic functions, optimised production routing and tracking, and real time reports on production performance.
When designing the robotised drywork line Robofeed, Kannegiesser put emphasis on seamless integration into laundry logistics. It allows textile services to automate the entire laundry process between soiled linen sorting and dispatch: The towels are automatically washed and dried using optimal processing programs recorded in the data base.
A post wash sorting and storage system then delivers the towels to the Robofeed drywork line that can automatically feed, fold, sort and stack batches of mixed towels from hotels and hospitals. It consists of the newly developed and field approved feeding robot Robofeed and the folding machine Speedline XFM. The Robofeed is equipped with state-of-the-art camera technology that enables a servo-driven gripper to recognise, separate and feed every single item into the folding machine at maximum speed. The secret to its high efficiency is ServoTronic. It is a combination of servo electronics, servo drive and sensor technology that enables high acceleration and precise movements. This means shorter cycle times and is at the same time providing a gentle laundry treatment. Long-term experience in feeding machines and folding robots shows that ServoTronic improves machine performances by up to 30% compared to conventional drive systems.
Innovative laundry automation tools and advanced robotics will ring in a new age of textiles services. From washing to drying and finishing to sorting: with new technologies fewer people will be needed and their work becomes less physically demanding.
If it wasn't obvious by now, it is time to take charge and set the course for futuresafe laundry businesses. Make the right decisions now to operate more sustainable in the years to come and to save energy and resources.
Take the necessary steps, to be able to implement robotisation and automation in the near future to make staff shortage a problem of the past. And find a partner to work out a master plan with. Setting and achieving your goals necessitates a trustful partnership. And Kannegiesser is up for the challenge.