High-tech laundries

 

Tatjana Ahmed shares an interesting perspective about technologies that drive modern commercial laundries

 

Filed under
Laundry
 
January 17, 2022
 
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High-tech laundries
 

Laundry day might not be everyone’s favourite day, but it is also not really a difficult task to do. Once or twice a week it is necessary to sort the basket with dirty laundry, select a detergent and the proper washing setting, dry and fold the items – laundry is done. 

But imagine doing laundry every day by tons and one begins to have an idea of the scope of a hotel’s laundry. Then add to the huge volume of washing the responsibility to make it look, smell and feel good.  

We spend a large amount of our budget on good quality linen and therefore it is of utmost importance that a well thought out and modern laundry management is in place to add to the success of a hotel operation.  

Thanks to new technologies, the costs for water, electricity and detergents can be controlled and therefore reduced. 

An on-premises laundry is perhaps not a place to install expensive robots, but it is a very good place to analyse data which can provide great operational savings. If the appropriate technology is incorporated into your laundry facility, you have a real-time view of water and energy consumptions, dosing accuracy for chemicals and a summary of your daily operational costs.  

Predictive maintenance, data recording systems and automated feeding of towels into small-piece folders are forms of automation technology that cross the threshold into AI. 

Automation in laundries has been there for many decades, it is simply the use of machinery to perform a  repetitive human task that requires no visual perception or decision-making process. For example,  manually feeding a flatwork ironer versus the use of an automated feeder and spreader. 

laundry

AI VS. AUTOMATION 

Visual recognition is a new advanced electronic linen inspection system, which grades linen quality and will reject sub-standard linen based on a programmed criterion that already exists. This technology is a  form of AI and can perform these tasks better and faster than a human can. Linen that is unacceptable to the customer is removed from the inventory, making laundries more efficient and ensuring a higher level of customer satisfaction.  

The system is programmed to recognize each piece of linen and decides what is acceptable based upon the client’s expectations. Once the system has analyzed the data, it decides how that piece of linen will be processed; whether it is acceptable or whether it is to be rejected. 

Without an inspection system, a  worker at the feed end of the ironer is required to visually inspect each piece of linen and decide whether to accept or reject that piece. 

The issue with human intervention is, that everyone can have a different opinion of what is acceptable and what is not. AI can be taught the accurate parameters, removing the human opinion/intervention.

AI LAUNDRY OPERATION BENEFITS 

Improving efficiency and worker safety, reducing labour costs, and performing processes faster and more accurately, would be some of the benefits. A stable workforce is a critical component to a functional and profitable laundry, but it is not always available. Automation and AI will benefit in these cases. 

Added safety can be another benefit for laundry operations that use AI. With a soiled linen sorting system, AI creates a much safer working environment for the employees by utilizing X-Ray, high-speed imaging and RFID scanning.

The soiled linen sorting system can detect hidden foreign objects such as needles, knives, glass pieces,  etc. that could injure an employee during the sorting process and discharge the item/garment for safe handling. These items could damage a load of linen or machinery in the wash, extract, or drying process,  saving the cost of lost/damaged linen or machinery repair. 

Finally, AI can help identify laundry equipment maintenance. AI would be helpful, service-wise, where the machines would send out data. With true AI, the right decision would be made when maintenance is needed.