RFID Tags Track Large Loads of Laundry Faster

Oct 17, 2018

Laundry is a messy and frustrating job, no matter the size of the load. Establishments such as laundromats, dry cleaners, hotels, uniform companies, and large-scale janitorial operations have a lot to manage, which means there’s a lot to lose. By optimizing the process through RFID, laundry can be tracked to the point that loss is almost eliminated. Some of the challenges that have been experienced include the secure attachment of tags, tag durability, read range, and the ability of the tags to hold data. Fortunately, much of this has improved over the years, with tags coming in different frequencies and some even being waterproof. When choosing the right RFID tags to track laundry, you must consider what’s being tracked. Garments, mats, private linens, and in-house inventory might require a different type of tracking or tag. Taking care of laundry, uniforms, or other items for outside entities, how the tagging process can integrate into the billing system is a major consideration.

There are different types of tags used in laundry tracking. The high or low-frequency disc tag that’s sewed into the hem of a uniform, garment, linen, or runner. The disc looks like a regular button that can be easily stitched using standard stitching equipment or methods. Ultra-high-frequency tags (UHF) are highly advanced. Hundreds of tags can be read at once. The material tends to be small and flexible. The material can also be waterproof, making it ideal for laundry that goes through a washing machine. Some tags are highly resistant to heat and can be applied to laundry items using thermo-patching. It’s ideal for a laundry tag to be UHF and able to handle high temperatures and pressures. The classic laundry tag might contain a small antenna with small chips that can be rewritten tens of thousands of times. Each tag also has a specific type of reader that can scan the data on the tag and enter it into a system. This is how quantities can be easily verified, and inventory replenished when needed. A significant amount of time can be saved when you don’t have to manually count in-house or consumer laundry totals. [1]

Selecting RFID Tags for Laundry

Laundry Services & Dry Cleaning: If you buy a coat or another garment that says, “dry cleaning only,” you know you need to find a dry cleaner to clean the garment properly. Dry cleaners have an enormous responsibility to ensure that items are properly tagged so they make it back to their owners. Nothing inconveniences a dry-cleaning client more than an expensive dry clean only item that’s missing. Such losses don’t serve the dry cleaner well, especially when compensating the owner for the item. RFID tags still follow the system of each garment or linen receiving its own identification number. However, the tag can be written to and scanned. Laundry services or dry cleaners need to use tags that can easily be applied to and removed from the item since the tags will be reused. This is also why the tag must be rewritable, so new client data can be written to each tag every time it is reused. The same applies to laundry services. With more laundromats providing services that allow busy people to drop off their weekly laundry, it’s imperative to have a solid system in place to keep track of each item. As the items are received, they can be tagged, washed, and untagged as they’re placed in a bag or basket for the client to pick up. This ensures every item is accounted for. [2]

Employers & Uniform Companies: Uniform management lasts the entire lifecycle of each garment. The level of management required covers dispensing, daily use, cleaning, and final disposal. The military, for instance, dispenses uniforms to soldiers. These uniforms must be properly tracked throughout their lifecycle. Soldiers will turn their uniforms in for cleaning. Although the soldier’s name is present on the uniform, scanning each item is much faster, and accountability can be determined at a glance. Many unnecessary tasks can be avoided, laundry can be processed in batches when needed, inventory counts are automatic, equal wear can be ensured, and worn uniforms can be replaced. Hence, the personnel always look their best. Other benefits include complete inventory management, easy identification and control of lots, easy location of a specific item, finding uniforms with issues and ensure they’re fixed, tracking the number of repairs and laundry cycles, managing personnel assignments, and racking each item separately instead of in a group. [3]

Hospitality & Hospitals: The hospitality industry and hospitals also have many linens to track. If a hotel doesn’t properly track wash cycles, worn linens vs. good linens, and how old items are, it can be easy to fall short on inventory or use the old inventory that should have been destroyed long ago. Staying on top of bedding and towel condition, ensuring that everything is washed after use, and reordering new items only when they’re needed to offer a wide range of benefits, such as keeping people safe by making sure they’re using clean linens and towels, as well as positively impacting the bottom line by avoiding premature replacement or inventory shortages. RFID tags for tracking laundry and linens have an incredibly positive impact on businesses and the people directly involved. If you’re not already tracking with RFID, you’ll be amazed at the time savings, cost savings, and overall convenience.

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