Les Lavandières de Provence: Laundry Management with UHF RFID and CLOUD SERVICES

Every hour, up to 600 kilograms of laundry can pass through the entire laundry cycle.

Laundry Management with UHF RFID and Cloud Services

End User Story

8 Min
June 20, 2023
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Les Lavandières de Provence

Les Lavandières de Provence is a family business and Laurence Hakimi, General Manager, already represents the fourth generation. The company employs up to 20 people full time and handles five tons of laundry per day.

Thousands of linen items such as bedsheets, duvet covers, towels, table cloths, aprons, and kitchen linen are received, washed, maintained and shipped to customers in this 1000 m2 industrial laundry in Rognac, near Aix-en-Provence in the south of France.

Laundry in the 4th Generation

Laundry in the 4th Generation

The great-grandfather of Laurence Hakimi, today’s Managing Director of the industrial laundry “Les Lavandières de Provence”, laid the groundwork for the company back in 1930. Since 2006, the company, which has grown into an industrial enterprise, has been located in Rognac, a town with 12,000 inhabitants, near Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. After almost 100 years of history, “Les Lavandières de Provence” is now run as a family business in its fourth generation.

“Our customers appreciate the exactness and transparency of the linen stocks we deliver. This is the service we provide. This establishes trust and long-term cooperation.”

Laurence Hakimi,

General Manager

at Les Lavandières de Provence

Laundry With Rental Services

As an industrial laundry for major customers in the hospitality industry, its customers include mainly restaurants and hotels, for which the laundry has established itself as a laundry rental company. “Les Lavandières de Provence” owns the linen and offers a rental and maintenance service.

Thousands of linen items such as bedsheets, duvet covers, towels, tablecloths, aprons, and kitchen linen are received, washed, maintained and shipped to customers on a daily basis. A total of 20 fulltime employees can process a volume of up to five tons of laundry per day at peak times.

The Daily Laundry Cycle

The work processes include: Incoming laundry, counting, sorting, washing, drying, ironing and folding of the laundry, order preparation, and delivery. The operating area is 1000 square meters.

The Challenge for “Les Lavandières de Provence”

Laurence Hakimi knows the challenging demands of managing large volumes of laundry. Repeated manual counting is time-consuming, error-prone and also costly. Inaccurate linen inventory means not knowing exactly how many items are available in the warehouse. This inaccuracy increases the risk of not being able to serve customer requests promptly. For Les Lavandières de Provence in particular, however, the biggest challenge was the increasing shrinkage of linen and the cost of new purchases.

The Decision for RFID Technology

Even before the pandemic, Laurence Hakimi began looking into RFID technology and analyzing its use in her own company. After a research phase, the entrepreneur decided on the HID Textile Services solution. The cloud-based software and industry-ready RFID tags and readers encouraged the decision.

“With today’s digital technologies and cloud infrastructures, businesses can bring almost any information and process management capability to anybody, anywhere,” said Hakimi. “And there is no reason why this should not apply to the management of linen”.

In advance of the digital transformation, HID experts conducted an on-site analysis of the laundry processes and operations to determine what hardware was needed and where to position the RFID reader stations within the laundry cycle.

Laurence Hakimi, General Manager, Les Lavandières de Provence and great-granddaughter of the company's founder.

Laurence Hakimi, General Manager, Les Lavandières de Provence and great-granddaughter of the company’s founder.

Integration of the RFID Tags

Retrofitting With RFID Technology

At the beginning of the integration, the entire linen stock of “Les Lavandières de Provence,” about 60,000 pieces, was equipped with RFID tags, specifically the LinTRAK™ tags from HID. During the retrofit, a tag was discreetly sewn into each piece of linen, regardless of whether it was a small napkin or a large tablecloth.

Following integration, each RFID tag, and thus each linen item, was encoded in the ERP system database. The result: each item of laundry now carries its own laundry reference, such as type, age or color, and is thus uniquely identifiable. The unique codes of the RFID tags now enable the laundry to track the condition and age of each item and therefore monitor the quality of each item.

Les Lavandières de Provence: When retrofitting, the RFID tags are discreetly sewn near the care labels.

When retrofitting, the RFID tags are discreetly sewn near the care labels. They have a unique electronic identifier and are available in various lengths.

Application of the RFID Tags

The French laundry used two forms of application: sewing or heat sealing. Both methods are flexible and adapt to the shape of the linen. It is important that the RFID tag is integrated securely, but also discreetly. The tag can be sewn into a hem or into a small fabric label.

Some RFID tags have a special heat-activated adhesive coating on one side so that they can be heat-sealed directly onto textiles. At “Les Lavandières de Provence”, the subsequent integration of the RFID tags was carried out in compliance with HID’s quality guidelines in order to achieve optimum reading performance.

Software as a Service for Laundry Management

In addition to the hardware, HID equipped the French laundry with a digital solution. HID’s “Acuity” platform enables RFID data to be transformed into comprehensive, interactive, cloud-based dashboards and reports. The reports provide a comprehensive, real-time overview of linen inventory by item reference or individual item, by zone in the laundry and by laundry customers.

In summary, complete linen management provides comprehensive inventory control, generating visibility, lower operating costs, optimized inventory movement, controlled linen quality, and increased customer satisfaction, as Laurence Hakimi confirms. “The RFID solution is seamlessly integrated into our laundry processes and provides complete visibility into linen inventory and customer transactions. Reliable and clear information means transparency between us and our customers,” she added.

Les Lavandières de Provence: In most cases, the RFID tags are integrated during the production of the linen.

In most cases, the RFID tags are integrated during the production of the linen. They are inserted directly in the hem and are hardly visible. This manufacturing step is automated and therefore cost-effective.

An Alternative to Retrofitting

A more cost-effective alternative to retrofitting is to integrate the tags during laundry production. This method is also called source tagging. Compared to the cost of manual application, there is virtually no cost associated with source tagging.

As a pioneer in RFID innovation, HID is working with some of the world’s largest linen manufacturers focused on hospitality and healthcare linen to develop solutions that integrate RFID tags directly and automatically into linen items during the production process. The solution is based on the patented “IFF-1” labeling machine and UHF RFID tags on rolls.

Laundry Cycle With RFID

With the Use of RFID Technology, Time and Costs Are Saved

1. Goods Receipt With RFID Transit Portal

Thanks to the RFID tags laundry items can be tracked at goods receipt – as shown here in the cabin station. It does not matter how the laundry items are positioned in the laundry cart. The linen items are dry when they leave the laundry. The trolleys are also equipped with HID RFID markings to identify the content, the customer and/or the owner.

HID’s linen management platform now documents exactly how many and which textiles are at the customer, on the transport route or in the laundry. It is also possible to tell exactly whether the linen is being washed, if it is on the shelves, or if it is ready for packing. This makes it possible to optimize storage and anticipate linen repurchases. Now the laundry can also clearly identify lost or dormant stock at customer sites and generate an invoice based on the identified linen requirements and projected usage.

2. Sorting Processes

With the help of handheld scanners, additional identification and the counting of soiled linen takes place. Employees also perform quality control to identify damaged linen or remove items that are too old from the stock.

The automatic counting of several hundred items in a few seconds, made possible by RFID technology, has led to a reduction in operating costs, as the number of staff required to receive the laundry has been reduced by two people per day.

3. Laundry Processes

The washing, drying, ironing and folding processes are complex in a large-scale laundry.

4. Packing and Shipping

In the order preparation and shipping control zone, the packing of the linen and the final check of the packing list takes place, using HID’s counter-top RFID station connected to the Acuity platform. The items of linen are assigned to customer trolleys. The printing of the packing slip also occurs at this stage.

5. Outgoing Goods

Finally, the trolleys, which are also equipped with RFID tags, pass through transit portals or cabins once again before being shipped to the customer.

Les Lavandières de Provence: With the use of RFID technology, time and costs are saved.

The linen items are dry when they leave the laundry. The trolleys are also equipped with HID RFID markings to identify the content, the customer and/or the owner.

Convinience for Laundries

Cloud-based Software Solution

The Acuity linen management platform was developed in collaboration with laundry and hospitality experts. The system is designed to enable laundries and their customers to efficiently identify, track and manage linen and workwear. In addition, it positively impacts factors such as operating costs, profit margins, stock movements and purchases, as well as customer satisfaction. The system is robust and leverages the power of RFID-enabled textiles and Software as a Service (SaaS) combined with smart RFID reading stations to optimize textile-related operations and flow management.

Convenience for laundry operators comes from the user-friendly web portal for management, order processing, invoicing as well as packing slip creation. Users gain instant access to their laundry management platform via a website and benefit from real-time interactive dashboards and reports. In addition, Acuity is cloud-based, which significantly reduces total cost of ownership, technical complexity and setup time.

Other benefits for users include not having to worry about hosting and maintaining a server, as well as software updates, while benefiting from more secure and reliable data. This also enables remote configuration, monitoring and upgrade of cloud-connected RFID devices, such as cabin and table-top stations.

Les Lavandières de Provence: the automatic counting of several hundred items in a few seconds, made possible by RFID technology.

The automatic counting of several hundred items in a few seconds, made possible by RFID technology, has led to a reduction in operating costs, as the number of staff required to receive the laundry has been reduced by two people per day.

Quality Control

It is also important that the system enables a quality check for each piece of laundry and signals when an item has reached the end of its life so that it can be replaced.

Most importantly, the linen data generated by the RFID technology and utilized by the HID software suite helps determine whether the quality issues are coming from the linen manufacturer or the detergent for example, and take the necessary corrective action. It can better serve its upscale hotel customers by being confident that the quality of the rented linen meets their standards, further increasing its service efficiency.

The linen management platform provides a complete overview of linen inventory movements with a range of reports.

The Acuity linen management platform by HID

The Acuity linen management platform by HID

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