Rise of the (Laundry) Machines: How Automation in Linen Cleaning is Evolving


Rise of the (Laundry) Machines: How Automation in Linen Cleaning is Evolving

Rise of the (Laundry) Machines: How Automation in Linen Cleaning is Evolving

Technology has come an impossibly long way in just a short time. Just over 100 years ago, we were producing our first consumer vehicles; now, in 2024, vehicles can drive themselves! As for laundry machines and the linen cleaning industry, technology has developed in much of the same fashion, focusing on automation. The possibilities for new linen-cleaning machinery are endless with the development of robotics and the recent leaps and bounds made in AI programming. At Yamamoto, we strive to be at the forefront of innovation in washer tech. While our machines already assist operators with the essential functions of laundry washing, there’s more in store for the future of Yamamoto equipment.

Robotics in Laundry Operations

Great news: modern washing machines already offer many features and programs that allow operators to automate much of the process. As such, most industrial laundry facilities are already embracing the benefits of automation in their equipment. The next step is to find help loading and handling linen, much more than human hands can manage. This is where the introduction of robotics can “bridge the gap.”

The same as you might see robotic arms helping on an automotive assembly line, laundry operators hope to implement similar tech. However, as linen products are malleable and not solid, it has been difficult to program robots to grab, fold, and transport textiles effectively. Sewts from Munich, a German tech start-up, has been working on a solution to this issue in robotics. Using IDS cameras and AI programming, Sewts’ robotic technology can analyze linen textures and patterns, tell each apart, and implement proper handling based on the linen product.

In practice, robots are being used for simple labor tasks that otherwise take laundry operators’ time that can be spent elsewhere. For example, some industrial laundry facilities have begun using robots to feed linen products into a folding machine. A robot can grab a towel from a trolley, recognize where its corners are, and place it correctly onto a conveyor belt leading to the folding machine. Although it doesn’t seem like much, this one task has the potential to assist facilities with significant labor shortages.

Artificial Intelligence in Laundry Operations

While robotics fills the need for physical labor, artificial intelligence accomplishes tasks that require thinking. We’ve already mentioned how AI helps refine robotics by making the analysis and identification of linen products easier. AI can do more for laundry operators, helping to refine linen processing and making laundry facilities more efficient.

With the introduction of AI technology, laundry machines can become “smarter” and make decisions of their own volition. Say, for example, a machine uses more water than is necessary for the size of the load. Through AI technology, a washer can determine this discrepancy and take action, adjusting water levels automatically. As a result, your facility wastes less water, helping keep utility costs more manageable. And this is just one example of what AI can analyze as part of your linen cleaning process.

Ultimately, the idea behind AI isn’t to eliminate labor but to shift the roles of your laundry operators. Rather than mindlessly monitoring equipment to make manual adjustments, washers can monitor their selves. This allows your team to take on different laundry tasks that require more skill or move into positions better suited to their talents. In the future, laundry operators may also be able to control machines remotely, with washers providing detailed reports outlining productivity and areas that need improvement.

Rise of the (Laundry) Machines: How Automation in Linen Cleaning is Evolving

The Future is Soon

The laundry industry is still a few years away from complete automation. While AI has significantly improved, there are still concerns with its algorithms that prevent full integration into washing systems. Even robotic equipment, which can now grab and organize linen, is still not fully implemented worldwide for laundry facilities. As such, perfecting robotics and artificial intelligence for laundry operations will take time. However, Yamamoto is hard at work, researching technology and developing machinery that pushes the envelope. In the not-too-distant future, our laundry machines will run themselves!

In the meantime, Yamamoto washers are the perfect solution for your in-house laundry operations. Our equipment is green-centric, highly efficient, and affordable for any business or industry. If you’d like to learn more about the power of Yamamoto washers, call us today at 309-827-430. Yamamoto equipment can be found worldwide, with Yamamoto NA serving clients across the United States, Canada and Mexico.