RFID for industrial laundries to simplify management by bringing a new level of intelligence which, by tracking and traceability of laundry items, makes it possible to respond more efficiently to the typical logistical requirements of this type of service. The solution proposed by Tenenga is composed of special UHF tags applied to customisable labels stitched into the items (designed to withstand chemicals, high temperatures and more than 300 wash cycles), combined with a dedicated application that follows movement of the laundry item from the time of acceptance to the time of restitution, accurately recording each stage of the process.
Smart labelling in smart cities
Hotels, restaurants, hospitals, care homes and small and large community facilities manage thousands of laundry items every day, including tablecloths, napkins, towels, bedsheets, pillow cases, blankets, quilts, drapes, smocks and uniforms. Whether the service is managed internally or outsourced, industrialisation of processes involves the continuous movement of items that can be extremely difficult to control. Manual stock taking is a time-consuming process, without taking account of the fact that very similar items can be easily confused, misplaced, or lost.
The key to the solution? Automatic identification, i.e. the use of smart labels that make it possible to identify each item positively, thereby automatically speeding up acceptance and the movements connected to all washing, drying and ironing processes to deliver very high efficiency services. The key? Radiofrequency Identification technology (RFID).
Rfid tags for industrial laundries? It’s the quality of service that makes the difference
The use of Rfid technology prepares the ground for new economies of scale for industrial laundries with a high value added price/performance offering.
The value of automatic identification lies in a specifically designed microchip that, affixed to diverse types of substrate depending on the application, exploits the electromagnetic induction principle. When interrogated by an RFID reader, the tag activates an automatic communication and read/write data exchange process. The electronic memory in the tag holds all the necessary information. The value added? Several aspects: firstly, the manufacturer equips each tag with a unique ID serial code (TID – Transponder Identification or UID – Unique Identifier) which, since it can’t be forged, constitutes an unequivocal identification system that introduces a fully efficient tracking and traceability system into the company.
Another of the pluses of RFID tags is that, unlike barcodes, they can be interrogated by mass reading, i.e. all tags read simultaneously even when the items to which they are affixed are heaped, stacked, sealed in cartons, or distributed over large spaces such as a warehouse. In summary, when a tag enters the range of an RFID reader (from a few centimetres to tens of metres) it is “woken up” and, without requiring a power source (in the case of a passive tag), or using its internal battery in the case of active tags, it responds to the reader, supplying an answering signal that is decoded by the reader.
A laundry can therefore affix a smart label to each item so that the system can recognise it positively in each stage of the process, updating the work cycle status time by time.
This is possible because the label is equipped with a specific tag designed to withstand the pressure of the press and the wash and wringer temperatures. Information is stored on the tag to link the item to its owner, specifying all the related characteristics (e.g. size, colour, fabric, sleeve, etc.). The procedure establishes the number and type of items, making it possible to optimise the service cycle in compliance with optimally functional criteria, avoiding wastage and errors both in the reception and restitution phase, recording the date, time, number of items delivered and the type of items.
Thanks to digitalization of the activities of acceptance of soiled laundry and the restitution of clean laundry it thus becomes possible to apply service charges based on the actual number of items washed (rather than on the total weight of laundry taken in). In addition, smart labels cut the sorting time during the laundry process, avoiding long and time-consuming manual accounting procedures and thus reducing operating costs.
The use of RFID based Auto-ID also makes it possible for the laundry’s customers to reduce their stocks thanks to the extremely rapid and precise monitoring of the quantity of items the customer actually uses, thus optimising the rotation of stocks/items. Tracking and traceability of the information managed with the tags, in fact, further improves the quality of the service because by counting the number of washing cycles that each item has undergone, the level of wear and tear can be accurately predicted to allow proactive planning of replacements without causing out of stock situations or service disruptions.
In addition to the number of wash cycles, the labels can also store information concerning the best type of washing techniques for each item, thereby preserving its condition and ensuring the maximum durability. Finally, and crucially, automatic identification eliminates human error that can lead to misplaced or inadvertently switched items.