Revolutionizing Textile Service: Automated Logistics and Robotics by Kannegiesser

Industry 4.0, SmartLaundry, artificial intelligence – are these just buzzwords or is there more to it? According to Kannegiesser, these concepts are becoming reality for many textile services as interconnectivity, smart automation, and advanced robotics find their way into laundries around the world. Still, a patchwork of specialized suppliers for equipment and software can make laundry operations complicated and vulnerable to malfunctions. That is why Kannegiesser not only supplies the equipment but also provides the matching logistics solutions for the entire laundry operation for maximum automation from washing to drying to finishing to sorting. The ultimate goal: reliable and efficient operation that runs like clockwork.

As if the COVID-19 pandemic did not cause enough problems, textile services have to deal with even more pressing challenges on a daily basis. The ever-increasing pricing pressure from customers urges laundries to constantly improve their productivity while still delivering the demanded quality. Furthermore, pervasive shortages of skilled workers in the industry seemingly prevent operations from growing to meet the increasing demand. The textile service industry faces an already problematic situation that, if not acted upon, is destined to become worse. The need for innovative and creative solutions has never been as obvious as it is today.

For years, Kannegiesser built and transformed laundries all around the world into state-of-the-art operations with smart automation and efficient processes. As one of the leading innovators in laundry technology and solutions, Kannegiesser anticipated the challenges of the modern textile service industry early enough to develop customizable solutions for the entire laundry process. Drawing from decades of experience and years of extensive development, Kannegiesser is able to deliver the innovative tools in laundry automation and advanced robotics that pave the way to a new age of textile service.

The brain of the laundry: eVue

From chaos to calm – eVue by Kannegiesser provides a single control interface for the entire laundry operation. The web-based process control software is the automation solution for modern laundry operations. A reliable and intuitive system offers operators and management in laundries full transparency and control over their production process. It ensures laundry operations at maximum capacity using high-developed diagnostic functions, optimized productions routing and tracking, and real time reports on production performance.

The process control software perfectly integrates the entire range of Kannegiesser equipment to ensure smooth operation at all times. Developed by Kannegiesser ETECH in Minneapolis, USA, and constantly improved since 2009, eVue is already the brain of over 260 laundry operations. For Paul Jewison, President and CEO at Texitle Care Services in Rochester, USA, eVue has become indispensable: “eVue software has been able to tie my entire plant together so that we can efficiently control the sequence of production for our many different customers. Since we do a mix of rental and customer owned goods I can’t imagine not having this information system. From a maintenance standpoint, the diagnostics that the system provides ensures speedy repairs and continuous operation. eVue is really the ‘smart phone’ of laundry automation – I can’t imagine life without it anymore!”

Transparency is the foundation of eVue. The software provides a simple yet insightful graphical overview of the whole laundry process, accessible on screens in the laundry or on mobile devices. The overview screen displays every single piece of equipment and every single batch. Thanks to seamless integration of the entire Kannegiesser product line, the overview screen allows users to track every single batch and its information throughout the whole process chain. Zooming in on a machine and clicking on a batch that is being processed shows the customer, article and batch weight. Additionally, when selecting a specific batch, eVue shows all the processes and machines that the batch has run through.

Some efficiencies can be dramatic. A critical equipment issue can bring a facility to a halt. eVue provides the key alerts in the form of system alarms. Additionally, the system shows preventive maintenance diagnostics and sends scheduled maintenance notification to the right people, at the right times, in the right format.

All the information that eVue collects is easily accessible through eVue Metrics. Providing accurate, clear, and real-time reporting, eVue Metrics is a powerful system that enhances commercial laundry production and operation capabilities. Current and historical data capturing, sort-to-finish batch and load tracking, clear and easy-to-read dashboard displays and reporting capabilities provide transparency as well as attention to optimizable and potential risk areas.

The automatic drywork line: Robofeed

The Kannegiesser Robofeed drywork line 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 recognize, separate and feed every single item into the folding machine at maximum speed. The secret to its high efficiency is ServoTronic. Kannegiesser developed and already implemented this servo drive technology in feeding machines and folding robots. ServoTronic is more than just a servo motor. It is a combination of servo electronics, servo drive and sensor technology that enables high acceleration and precise movements. This leads to 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 performance by up to 30% compared to conventional drive systems.

When designing the robotized drywork line, Kannegiesser put emphasis on seamless integration into laundry logistics. What does that mean? Essentially, it allows textile services to automate the entire laundry process between soiled linen sorting and dispatch: After sorting, 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 line to feed, sort and stack every single piece autonomously. Finally, the Vectura stack management system transports every laundry stack on a belt conveyor system to a central pick-up station where displays indicate the customer that the specific stack belongs to customer. That makes it easy for employees to move every stack to the correct containers and guarantees complete and reliable delivery. In order to take the full advantage of the automatic drywork line, laundry operation requires database driven logistics and a monorail sorting and storage system. However, it is also possible to load the drywork line manually instead if logistics automation is still in development.

For years now, Kannegiesser has been developing the the Robofeed drywork line in close cooperation with experienced partners of the textile service industry to ensure a reliable and field-tested application. One of those partners is “Textilpflege Kaiser” from Goslar in Germany. The family-owned business operates since 1968 and embodies decades of experience in textile services. Today, CEO and owner Wolfgang Kaiser and his team of 100 employees serve a customer range of hotels to hospitals and retirement homes. For Wolfgang Kaiser, robotics are the future of laundry operations: “The use of robots in the laundry will increase and has to increase as we are being challenged an ever increasing shortage of skilled workers.” The Robofeed allows Kaiser to process vast amounts of towels that their customers demand while giving employees the opportunity to perform other important tasks such as quality control. “We are very happy with the Robofeed drywork line. It is now seamlessly integrated into our laundry process and works like a charm.”

There is no doubt: Automated laundry logistics are the future of the textile service. Laundry technology by Kannegiesser, such as eVue as the brain of the laundry and Robofeed as the next step in process automation, provide comprehensive and reliable solutions, giving the textile service industry the tools to secure a bright and sustainable future.