With this reportage, we are focusing our attention on the entire laundry management activity, for both the industrial and small laundries, but also on the medium-sized laboratories that have developed in the recent years for offering a professional, prompt and more affordable cost service to the local laundries on the “barricades”. An in-depth study dedicated to the logistics, that can be translated into the organisation and the goods handling management, starting from their reception into the laundry and up to the delivery. We can talk about a “genetic mutation” in this market segment regarding the management of the transport, shipping, distribution processes, totally digitalised nowadays, in cloud and on the web.

We are facing a real digital transformation that requires a re-organisation of the supply chain and of the management processes, to deliver the goods as quickly as possible, track them by sharing data with the customers, suppliers and partners. It is normal that all this is combined with the 4.0 Transition program, practically the 4.0 Industry evolution, the way identified by the public authority for supporting and stimulating the companies to invest in new, material and non-material capital goods, helping the technological and digital transformation of the production processes. Because the automation of the processes makes them more effective and efficient, by minimising the risk of errors or damage of the treated items.

We are starting this reportage speaking with engineer Corinna Mapelli, the co-owner of Trevil, a company manufacturing professional ironing machines in Pozzo D’Adda, at the outskirts of Milan. “The innovations that are blossoming from the pressing digitalisation of the production systems, are now creating really interesting functionalities, unthinkable until few years ago. The interconnection between the different systems through innovatively designed digital interfaces enables an increasingly smooth management of the entire production process.

Trevil developed the IronNet control panel, available to be installed on PC for monitoring the ironing machines. It can operate autonomously or interfaced with various management systems, making it customisable to all kinds of requirements. IronNet simplifies the set-up operations even if the machines are located in different production points. In fact, it is possible to easily upload and download the ironing programs directly from your PC: a useful function to avoid wasting time for programming each individual workstation when there are several machines of the same type.

The productivity control takes place in real time: it is possible to check the number of processed garments of each type; for the shirt ironing, it will be possible to check how many short or longsleeved shirts were ironed during the working shift. The possibility of exporting the production data, allows to create useful reports for statistical purposes, simplifying the production monitoring and planning. The diagnosis module incorporated in the Trevitouch consoles by Trevil, allows the technician to carry out precise diagnoses based on the recorded data.

Any possible errors, alarms and the scheduled maintenance requests are visible both directly displayed on the machine but also remotely via the IronNet control pannel. This allows a timely troubleshooting and enables an effective scheduling of the periodical interventions. IronNet is “4.0 ready” certified and it allows the access to the “4.0 Transition” tax benefits, concludes engineer Mapelli.

“The new conveyor belt allows the linen to be sorted in three directions, through translation, without rotating the parcel, increasing the speed and significantly reducing the bulk as the parcels can be sorted in three directions with elimination. Montanari Engineering that has always been committed in optimising processes and increasing the productivity of the industrial laundries, continuously improving the quality of its systems, has just launched on the market the new patented ‘CELERI 3D’ conveyor belt, speeding up the linen handling processes along the packaging line after coming out from the ironing lines; we are talking about with Cosimo Corleone, the company’s Marketing and Export Manager Coordinator about the of the pushers at the sorting points.

This type of handling allows the linen to pass fluidly along the entire line without any break, whenever it gathers to its destination bay, reducing possible mechanical problems and the operators’ safety risks correlated with the old generation of conveyors. The main feature of this new product is embedded in the belt, made of a special spheres structure, suitably calibrated in relation to the type of linen to be transported. Sorting the linen to the corresponding belts is managed via software/PLC interface according to the operation logic and the customers’ specific requirements.

This belt can be used in different configurations, including the “multi-layer” belts – one stacked on top of each other. This innovation applied to different types of linen can be translated as an evolution of the packaging lines, where the managing and handling in the dispatching area is significantly accelerated and optimised, and the operators’ handling activities are also more reduced.”

For more than 40 years, the SCAL S.r.l. company, located in Sesto San Giovanni, in the Milan metropolitan area, has been working in the field of textiles and as a partner for the industrial laundries, hospitals and RSAs, hotels and garment manufacturers. We are speaking with Mattia Battoraro, the IT Project Manager of the company. “Our products range includes: consumable accessories and spare parts for the industrial ironing machines; trolleys, bags and machinery for packing and transporting textiles; items for identifying, recognising and managing the garments.

Wide-ranging maintenance of ironing machines, folding machines, feeders, and up to industrial-size packaging. We supply all the accessories, but we also offer technical assistance. We are working in partnership with several major players and we are also manufacturing linen transport trolleys. We are also working with management systems, moreover with RFID technology that allows tracking the garment movement, whether we are talking about flat linen or workwear. We develop hardware and software. Trolleys for the linen handling, with various reading stations including portals for mass reading.

The system tracks and detects the handling within the company perimeter, but also outside, as the system is modular and therefore includes the entire process all the way to the end customer. Everything is traceable and can be monitored. We try to fill the typical gap of every industrial laundry, as they are usually failing to keep a track, on time, of what it goes in and what it comes out. Usually the industrial laundries are working using the “weight”, we are offering them the possibility to work using the piece.

In this way, the laundry’s warehouse is optimised, purchasing is more accurate, so that you can check in real time how many garments you have in the circuit. We are preparing the Exaco 2.0 version available with translations into the several languages, in view of EXPOdetergo International 2022. The software is installed directly via Web, not locally to the customer, as everyone has a dedicated server. All our applications comply with the privacy regulations regarding the data storage.

All our software is based on RFID technology, which allows us to solve several specific and common problems faced by some companies in the sector. The company has progressively specialised itself in providing technical support for the eventual issues related to the ironing in the Industrial Laundries. We are always paying a special attention to the customers’ needs and we are constantly looking for cutting-edge solutions, as we have developed several patents necessary to improve the ironing efficiency and the quality.

We meet Lorenzo Bertani, one of the directors of Skema S.r.l., a company based in Sassuolo specialised in the design and the construction of systems and automations for the industrial laundry sector, who tells us: “Despite all the difficulties of the last two-yeas of pandemic, I must say that in 2021 we have managed to recover what we have lost in the previous year. We are working mainly with the industrial laundries, but also with some other sectors and markets, depending on the demands, but also on the experience that we have gained in the field.

We are focusing more on the industrial laundries. We are mainly dealing with laundries that work with the hotel and catering industry and a little bit less, with those that also deal with the healthcare. Our target market is the big laundries. We work mainly in Europe but also in the United States and the Arab countries. What are we doing, more specifically? We are manufacturing piece-counting machines and heat shrink packing machines for the packaging lines. We are focusing moreover on the loading systems for the continuous batch washers and the implementation of all the handling systems in the laundry.

We are focusing mainly on the industrial laundries sector, with systems suited to meet all the requirements of the various phases of the production cycle, from counting and sorting the linen, to the storage for feeding the washing and the ironing machines, product transport, packaging and storage, and the data management with specific customised software applications. The management of the programmes and the interface with some other machines in the laundry production system represents an added value.

In more than 20 years of activity, the company has managed to maintain itself at the forefront by adapting to the constant impulses of innovation that have come from new production technologies, from mechanics, to electrical engineering, to information technology, facing more stringent regulations and fulfilments in the field of the work safety, that revolutionised our way of thinking, designing, building, managing and working, on an increasingly selective market.

“We have founded this company since 1998 with the intention of keeping a close eye on the industrial laundries,” says Andrea Casati, the CEO of Kona S.r.l., from Castel San Giovanni near Piacenza. “When we have started, it was a meadow in front of us. It was a gamble. We have started by closely analysing all the logistics management mechanisms and the delivery procedure. From the production to the customer relations, and up to the accountancy, everything must be managed smoothly and automatically.

Mistral (a management software) with experience and continuous improvements has become an irreplaceable working tool. Ours software is not a management system that starts from the accountancy, as it usually happens with some other management systems. It starts from the production and the business management. An inverted process. We have reached a crossroads where, what has been done so far is no longer enough. It is necessary to make the social world interact, the Apps, real time, management must enter the laundry and be able to share information.

In short, the Amazon model applied to the laundry, including all the lockers distributed throughout the territory. This is the management model to strive for. Think of small realities, such as bed and breakfasts scattered throughout the territory, which industrial laundries can hardly manage. We need to have an appropriate delivery logistics. We are planning to manage these facilities properly. Which is the goal? To entrust everyone its own task, but also to provide all the necessary tools to those monitoring it, for being able to make the right decisions in real time.

We consider that the longer a parcel stays in the laundry, the higher it is the handling cost. Our logistics also includes the load and the vehicles. We have always looked for a flexible system that can interface with a complex machinery system. Which is one of the 4.0 Industry requirements. Our software infrastructure is designed and built to fit the system. We are looking forward as we following our goal from the recent years has always been to focus on the almost retailed linen distribution. We have implemented this idea with Mistral software, that will be presented in October at EXPOdetergo International 2022,” concludes Casati.

One of the flagship products of Zucchetti Centro Sistemi is TRACK, the management software designed for the industrial laundries for guiding the production and the activities from the goods entry and up to their dispatch, but also beyond the company’s boundaries. “We are present on the Italian market, in Europe, in China, but also in the Arab countries,” is telling us Claudio Raffaelli, the company’s sales manager. It is a time when the market demand is not missing, even if there are various uncertainties due to the economical but also to the geo-political scenario.

We are focusing on the industrial laundries in the hotel and healthcare sector, concerning the logistics and the distribution systems. We have developed over the years, hardware and software systems for managing the flows arriving to be processed in the laundry. Our entire system is based on UHF microchips use, for massive readings (equipped even on the trucks). We are monitoring the flat linen, work wear, but also the sterile kits. The soiled linen is automatically read at the entrance, and at the same time it is prepared the part that needs to be delivered to the same customer.

This system performs a wide-ranging monitoring, meaning that it can also detect any failures. The system extends to the customer, such as hospital warehouses, optimising also their logistics. As for the customer’s side, when the goods arrive at the wardrobe, they are additionally checked. A thoroughly reading at each step. A system that allows some considerable savings on the circuit of the linen, as with this system we know where to intervene capillary in order to curb critical situations, maximising handling efficiency. In both hospitals and hotels, we have an automatic distribution system connected to the central system.

As far as central sterilisation centres are concerned, we manage both the instruments and sterile linen kits for the operating theatres. Intelligent RFID-equipped cabinets, trucks equipped with readers (where there are no wardrobes), everything is modelled and customised to individual needs. Systems, software and machines, prepared for the 4.0 Industry. Very interesting, is the market that is developing around the entertainment receptivity and in particular in the so-called hotels/ casinos all over the world, Las Vegas, Venice etc. adds Raffaelli.

I would also like to emphasise what we have achieved over the past two years, for example in Beijing China we have installed our systems at Universal Studios, a citadel of entertainment with 12.500 employees. Each of our automatic portals detects the access of an army of employees ready every morning to pick up their clean workwear. We won the tender during the pandemic and then we have coordinated the installation work remotely; it has been a great satisfaction in a very complicated time,” concludes Raffaelli.

“We are taking care of the management and we are in charge of the garments handling received by the laundry, as well. From the collection to the return of the garments, passing through the washing, ironing, and up to the reorganization”. Dario Leggieri, the Commercial Director of 2020 Gestionali G.L. S.r.l., a company providing also electronic invoicing and telematic receipts software, describes the company’s flagship product. “The goal is the total control of the entire production process inside the laundry. We have developed a system that allows us to track the garments and monitor them in all their phases: washing, ironing, stain removal, reorganization and return.

We are using for this tracking systems like the barcodes or even RFID (detector antennas) enabling us to know in real time the location of the garment. In addition, we have developed a system that allows us to interact with the customer through an APP available to be downloaded from the Apple store or Google play. The APP is named Pronto Lavanderia and it and allows the customer to know when the garments are being processed to know the operation status. In addition to this, the laundry can interact with the customer, by highlighting certain critical aspects of the garment (defects and other useful information).

An automated smart laundry in real time, this is the goal. Functional and convenient, this system is widely used, moreover in the big cities where there are parking problems also near the laundry. The management system is called GL 88RT from the well-known GL 2020 series. At EXPOdetergo International 2022, in addition to the system and the APP that we have mentioned, we will bring a sophisticated system ideal for contract laundries, a sophisticated product that has already been thoroughly tested in the laboratory laundries in Milan, Lecce, etc.

We are highly focusing on an efficient after-sales service support, carried out remotely, if possible, but also in person where necessary. We provide our services also to small laundries and laboratory laundries. We are 4.0 Industry certified, so all our customers can use our technology. We have successfully launched many installations thanks to 4.0 Transition, supplying the customer with all the technical analysis and reports from our engineers, indicating all 5 requirements that the system must comply with,” concludes Dario Leggieri.

“There is no longer a secret, but the new innovation we are working on and developing is the Mops traceability (with RFID) and the dry pre-impregnated technical cloth. We have presented this product at a convention few months ago, says Maurizio Losi, the CEO of Emil Software. This product revolutionises the whole cleaning topic, as previously it was used the detergent on one side, and the bucket with the mop on the other side. Today, the new CAMs have created the need to monitor the contracted quantities of detergent used in PA premises.

The MOPs assigned to a specific facility have an RFID that is tracking them from the moment they are clean to the moment they are dirty. The tracking system allows us to know how many mops have been used, how much time, and how many squared metres have been cleaned; so, in essence, all the service efficiency. And then for us this is also an added value from a green point of view. An innovative system that we will presented at EXPOdetergo International 2022.

The other direction that we are focusing on is that of traceability, through a whole range of applications for the flat linen management, with microchips, from Datamars. We are targeting the mobile applications use for the companies’ management, increasing the information outsourcing, increasingly widespread. The latest experimental initiative in cooperation with one of our partners in Liguria: we have developed an application for the B&Bs (www.b&bflexy.com).

We are basically proposing a proximity service, through a linen collection and delivery system with vans with predefined stops collecting linen from several facilities. The service must be booked directly by the B&Bs via APP paying with the credit card. An experimental service, with good results in Liguria between Lavagna and Chiavari, but in the future we will extend the service to the whole of Italy. This service guarantees an excellent volume of work for the laundries,” concludes Maurizio Losi.

“Despite of the last two years, we have managed to keep our turnover level unchanged compared to the pre-pandemic level. While in 2021 we had a strong growth. This is because among our customers we have large laundry groups, in the healthcare sector, which have even been growing compared to the pre Covid situation, emphasises Matteo Bertacchi, the Sales Area Manager of ICT-GROUP.

Today, the industrial laundries are suffering due to increasing energy prices and blocked contracts (especially in the public sector) that cannot be easily adjusted and re-negotiated. ICT-GROUP has been designing and developing cutting-edge software and hardware solutions for an efficient and secure management of the laundry processes for more than 30 years. Data integrity, simplified procedures, reduced costs: these are just some of the advantages offered by EGGS Laundry, the information and IT system tailored for the industrial laundries.

A control tool that tracks information accurately and completely, guaranteeing the processes monitoring and resources and materials handling. Whether flatwork or tailored linen, with EGGS Laundry the management of the washing, reconditioning and delivery stages becomes fast and flawless. The textiles costs are certain and they are monitored in real time: less scattering, more safety, less costs. But there is more: with the installation of automated collection and distribution cabinets at the customer’s locations, the warehouse management also becomes more simple and more efficient. Both EGGS Laundry and SIXLM are modular tools that can be configured and parameterised according to the specific needs of each installation, enabling the management of multiple production sites.

Both systems are equipped with the necessary modules for fast and timely management of every aspect of the business, from the administration to the production, from the maintenance to the warehouses. The part of SIXLM, particularly the one related to the HID chip, has been completely redesigned, especially the user interface, launching a new version that matches better with the services supplied in the Cloud. With the Cloud platform, it is not necessary to buy a server, and moreover the software can be resold in the SASFI mode for a monthly payment covering all the classic mode, licence, maintenance, help desk, a complete package.

This mode is suitable moreover to the small laundries as they can reduce the initial investment and divide the software purchase payment in rates, being able to try it as long as they need it. In terms of turnover, we are much more present in the large laundries that are dealing with the healthcare sector, even if numerically there are more laundries working with Ho.Re.Ca, of smaller size.

We are present abroad with our management system especially for for the sterilisation and we are also trying to make extend our activity also to the laundry sector, the latest sector represents 1/3 of our total turnover. There is always the need to invest in technology, however, and the possibility of taking advantage of the 4.0 Industry facilities it is also an excellent opportunity.

How could we briefly trace our activity? MamaClean was founded in 2013 as a launderette distinguishing itself for being a fast laundry with a high focus on quality. We have started with the online service, then we passed to the APP. We have started serving the squares of Milan and Monza, managing everything from a single laundry shop and dealing vertically with the entire process, tells us Francesco Malmusi founder of MamaClean.

We have started a month ago to export our model in some other cities, enabling the existing laundries to integrate our system and to receive additional orders from the customers that are not willing to go physically to the laundry for various reasons. The first city was Turin, the people are using our APP for selecting the service, our driver picks up the garments and takes them to a partner laundry. Our management system can esily integrate with any other laundry management system.

This kind of partnership allows the laundries to increase their work volume. We are taking care of the technology, logistics, customer service and marketing. We would like to extend this model to other cities in Italy. For us, the entrepreneur that we are talking to, makes the difference. If we find interest for our service, we are ready to set up in a new city, betting on innovation. We can start with a mediumsized laundry that handles at least 200/300 garments per day, but we need a confident entrepreneur, that believes in it.

This is even more important than the geographical location. There are medium-sized cities (around 300.000 inhabitants) where it would be a very prosperous ground. In the last couple of years, the whole approach has changed and the e-commerce has experienced an incredible acceleration, just think of Naples which is having a tremendous home delivery boom. For example, Naples is one of the most important cities in Italy regarding the food delivery. The laundry entrepreneurs must consider that 50 per cent of our customers have never been traditional customers, so we represent not a threat but also an opportunity.

Our Ideal type of customer, or better said our target pattern, is a young person who has a substantial spending capacity. How do we proceed? We make a partnership in one city with few selected laundries, strongly emphasising them with our brand and sharing a working practice. In Milan we process an average of 1500 garments per day, therefore, it is an important market, but we are only at the beginning, concludes Malmusi. •

Detergo Magazine – Number 6, June 2022

by Marzio Nava