RFID Arena

Categories

Let's launder it!

According to IDTechEx, the number of tags in laundry business will grow from 20 to 200 million by the year 2021. And no wonder: laundry is an excellent business area for adopting RFID. Let me explain why.

Outsourcing is common in the laundry service business. This often means that several systems and persons are handling the items as they travel back and forth through processes and between destinations. Unfortunately this makes it is easy to lose track of the laundry items. An RFID based system ensures that the customer always gets the same items back that have been sent out. If something is missing, it is possible to track where and when the item has vanished as well as to find the right party to reimburse it from. As the laundry items travel back and forth between the host location (such as a hotel) and the laundry service facility, the items are read in multiple places: the laundry basket, the laundry room/backroom, during transportation, at the laundry facility and as they arrive to the hotel and are placed in the right employee's locker.

Many workplaces such as five-star hotels, amusement parks, hospitals etc. use uniforms. With RFID the employees can be sure to get their own personal uniforms back when they start their shift instead of some random uniform of the wrong size and shape. After the shift the uniform gets dropped in an RFID equipped laundry basket. The laundry basket will inform the logistics system about the "drop" in order to make sure that a new uniform gets washed and placed to where ever the employee needs it. Besides from tracking uniforms as they circle the laundry process destinations, RFID readers will register any uniform leaving the building. This way it is easy to keep track on where missing uniforms can be found, which effectively decreases shrinkage.

The benefits of RFID in the laundry business area do not stop there. The RFID tags attached to the laundry items contain information about how they should be sorted and washed in the laundry process (such as what program, temperature, drying conditions etc. should be used). Washing machines equipped with RFID readers will immediately inform the personnel if a laundry item is sorted wrong or what temperature and other settings a load of laundry items should be washed and dried in. The reduction in manual errors and the up-speeded laundry process brings bigger revenues, less shrinkage, happier customers and less stressed-out personnel, especially when handling large volumes. In a hospital where almost everything is tagged from clothes and bed linen to medical aids and personal belongings, the washing machines also inform the personnel if an "alien" object, such as a hearing aid, goes into the washing machine by accident.
 

laundry facility


Let's take the benefits of tagged laundry items even further and look at the benefits outside the laundry system. RFID based laundry items make it possible to survey the life cycle of the garments. Since the garments are washed according to their care labels, possible manufacturing errors relating to durability can be observed and corrected. The system gives information about how many times a specific garment has been washed and what the consequences have been for it. Laundering information can contribute to lengthen the life cycle of garments.

Many companies use RFID readers and RFID tagged keys at their gates and doors. With RFID tagged uniforms the keys might become redundant since the tag in the uniform is working as a key. This also makes it easier to locate personnel in case of fire or other emergencies.

The benefits of tagging laundry can and will, of course, go even further than what has been mentioned here. New ideas and applications will be adopted continuously. Only the sky is the limit!

Nordic ID case study Airbus / YMCA

Nordic ID case study Stephan Bilo

 

1 comment on “Let's launder it!”

  1. Gravatar of Atte KaskihalmeAtte Kaskihalme
    Posted 31 August 2012 at 15:56:16

    Hi,
    just learned yesterday from ACG Pulse Sweden that the annual loss can be even as high as 25% of the garments, too.
    Cheers,
    Atte

Post a comment

Keep in touch

Send me more info!
Send me a Newsletter!
Send me a Magazine!
Contact info