Creating Future in Laundry Automation
The panel for the Industry 4.0 – Automization & Digitilization of Laundry & Dry-Cleaning session moderated by Elgar Straub discussed on how technology has become a global revolution and is fast moving to inconceivable proportions where almost everything is determined to be automated. However, the dry-cleaning industry has not tested the formula and lags when it comes to automation and technology. And thus, the turn-around time in dry cleaning business or the manual tagging or be it the whole business process of any acclaimed drycleaning service has often left the customer disgruntled.
According to Rachit Ahuja, CEO, Quick Dry-Cleaning Software, “There has been a perpetual demand for setting up a process in dry cleaning business that is both process dependent and satisfies customers with the services offered. The industry requires to manoeuvre to a platform which is automated in terms of customer interaction, servicing and manages on-board customers and keep adding new ones. It should also eliminate all entry barriers for owner of the business. The answer is automated cloud-based business management software to take the dry- cleaning business to the next level.”
“In the past two years, IoT and cloud computing have become more commonplace and relevant in the laundry industry. With laundry machines now passing on process information, customised applications and emerging SaaS solutions act as both a POS and fully-fledged business management system. The biggest change has been the ease of scaling up in a smart way.”
Ahuja also spoke on how using Industry 4.0 technology in their business, one can enhance customer experience by implementing five pillars of business (which are marketing, sales, services, operations and feedback) effectively. He cites example of Omni Channel experience, which is a multichannel approach to marketing, selling, and serving customers in a way that creates an integrated and cohesive customer experience no matter how or where a customer is present.
There are several factors driving automation in laundry/ linen services. Labour issues, the need for efficiency, cost control, technology and more have resulted in more automated laundry equipment and processes. But just how automated will laundry operations be in the future?
“Technology such as IoT, AI and ML simplify the laundry experience. It can change the laundry business, making it easier, reasonable and more cost-effective for the user. Hence, this is the right time to adapt and implement the technology and witness the change in their business”, said, Keith Tan Chee Meng, Regional Sales Executive, JENSEN.
When it comes to laundry, the most challenging part remains the logistics, which put a strain on the operations and the unit economics. Though, of course, the logistics become sustainable at a scale later, in the initial phase of a laundry start-up, delivery costs cut hugely into margins.
The next challenge is that of maintaining a consistency in quality. In category like this or any other one must treat customer as a fresh customer every time. So, the risk of losing a customer is very high. Lack of educated and skilled manpower is another issue. The sector being unorganised and capital intensive is another issue.
Chirag Bhatia, Director, 5asec, explained, “With digitalization on the rise, different types of technology are simplifying and improving processes to increase efficiency and sustainability. Companies are relying heavily on technology and institutionalising the whole unorganized process.”
Bhatia cites example of how certain companies to address the issue of quality has established SOPs in place for each phase of operation, and set aside a dedicated quality supervisor, in-house quality check (QC) and quality analysis (QA) team. In a similar way, some companies use algorithm to assign orders to pick up agents based on their location and the volume of orders already assigned to them. It also has in place a real-time monitoring system to keep track of an order in its life cycle from the stage it is being picked and till the time it is delivered.
Wastewater Treatment in Textile Care Industry
The session on Wastewater Treatment in Textile Care Industry moderated by Nitya Shah, Partner, ERM India highlighted on challenges in water management for industrial laundries/ textile care market, cost-effective & energy efficient and eco-friendly laundry water treatment solutions, laundry wastewater treatment and recycling technologies.
The panel discussed on how textile manufacturing being one of the major water consuming industry shares higher responsibility for wastewater treatment. There are wide variety of finished goods manufactured in the textile industry for e.g. cotton, polyester, rayon, wool, etc. Various processes are involved based on the finished goods.
The panel discussed on how such wastewater must be managed with care because of its potential damage to the environment. One of the preventive measures suggested by the panel members were combination of technologies which has to be used appropriately to meet the requirement of the end-user.
Textile industry being the second highest employer in India next to agriculture. But without textile processing, there is no value addition in the textile supply chain. However, these processing units comes with its share of effect to environment in the form of effluents. And thus, the most suggested treatment of Textile Effluents is: Treat & Discharge and ZLDS.
The need of the hour is technological intervention with less capital and operating costs as textile industry have been facing difficulty in complying with ZLD (Zero Liquid Discharge) norms specified by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, said Suresh Manoharan, Secretary, Perundurai Textile Processors Association.
He said, “Sustainability is catching among consumers. So, if you follow, sustainable practices need to bring transparency in wastewater treatment plants so that sustainability is proved. While selecting wastewater treatment methodology, think through the entire cycle. Ensure the production team is also taken along while designing the ETP.”
The panel discussion on Wet or Dry Cleaning chaired by Akash Dharamsey, Director, ADD Laundry Concepts Pvt Ltd discussed on important aspects like Turning to Wet Cleaning; Enhance Dry- Cleaning Performance and experience; right marketing and sales strategy: Strategic Pricing and Promotion; Solvent, hydrocarbons or PERC.
Dharamsey said, “Globally, the laundry industry is concentrating more and more on automation, efficiency and ergonomics. Having said, in the end, it is all about how much has been washed today? How much of detergent/ chemicals are being used? In short, it is all about saving costs in real-time.”
The panel member discussed on how wet cleaning is alternative technology and not replacement for dry cleaning. Similarly, dry cleaning cannot replace the laundry. A professional organisation would require both wet and dry cleaning for best performance, cost and quality.
From AI and advanced robotics to business strategies to run a laundry business, technologies such as IoT simplify laundry experience for the customers, it also helps transform laundry business making it affordable and more efficient for the user.
The panel session on Forum for Startup discussed on how by the end of 2020, more than three million households will need laundry services on a weekly basis. That fact coupled with an increase in smartphone penetration prompt urban Indians to opt for on-demand laundry services.
According to Akash Dharamsey, “The rise of laundry start-ups is a big leap forward for a country where dhobis have been banishing stains for generations. “Start-ups have brought professionalism to a disorganized sector. Apart from laundry, these start-ups also provide dry cleaning, minor repairs among many other services.”
Some of the other informative sessions/topics introduced at the conference were on Special talks on GST and Best Practise to build Brands. Delegates and participants who visited the conference agreed in unison that Industry turning to Laundrex 4.0 happened at the right time…