At Nedlin, we work non-stop to improve the quality of the end product and the service we provide to our customers. As our laundry facilities for industrial companies in Hoensbroek have reached their capacity, we are expanding and completely refurbishing this location. This is the moment to implement the latest innovations in our production process and to make sustainable choices. ‘As a family business, we are choosing solutions for the long term,’ says director Stef de Win. He explains the new building plans together with the plant manager, Sven Görtzen.
‘Our customers expect increasing levels of transparency regarding our production process,’ explains De Win. ‘We will use the expansion in Hoensbroek to arrange the laundry facilities in such a way that enables us to provide a better guarantee in terms of hygiene and microbiological processes. The newest track-and-trace techniques enable us to see exactly which phases an item has been through. That is how we can perform quality assurance on the entire process. Moreover, our customers can actually access all this information, which is unique in our industry.’
“"Je ziet bij mensen een gevoel van trots dat ze in een groeiend en innovatief bedrijf werken."”
Chemistry between partners
According to De Win, the design process is a true collaboration between various partners, with Nedlin cooperating with multiple suppliers. ‘We looked at which parties could best meet our objectives, based on our ideas,’ explains De Win. The final result will be implemented by the Process in Maastricht building consultants and the Grausbouw contracting firm in Hoensbroek. The internal production process will be implemented together with Kannegieser – the supplier of the machines. Sven Görtzen, plant manager in Hoensbroek, finds it interesting to contribute his input in a design process such as this. ‘We are creating one of the largest and most modern installations in Europe, so it feels like playing in the Champions League.’
Smart production system
Görtzen is mainly hinting at the design process for the inner workings, i.e. the internal logistics of the laundry facilities. The expansion at Nedlin is about implementing an ingeniously thought-out internal production process rather than creating architectural masterpieces on the outside of the building. It is a state-of-the-art system that does not simply work towards ensuring efficient production, but also on creating the most high-quality end product for customers.
Integrated and sustainable
‘Here in Hoensbroek, we use the latest techniques to achieve sustainability,’ says De Win. ‘Naturally, Hoensbroek will be equipped with smart dryers that measure exactly when the laundry is adequately dried. We will also recover heat from the gases produced by the tunnel finishers that finish our clothes. By using heat exchangers, we can use this residual heat to heat the floor. This is an innovative application. And if this pilot scheme is a success, we will also implement it at the Elsloo location.’
An X-Ray machine that preventively and fully automatically scans all clothing – an innovation implemented in Elsloo – will also be installed in Hoensbroek after the expansion. If an object such as a pen is accidentally left in the dirty laundry, it could contaminate a full batch of clothing. The X-Ray scan automatically recognizes these objects to prevent this from happening.
In addition, microchips will be used in the clothing after the new construction. De Win says: ‘We also opted for the latest technology in this respect – UHF RFID (ultra-high frequency technology Radio Frequency Identification). This enables us to read out pieces of clothing individually or in bulk. It not only gives us greater insight, but also offers huge advantages to our customers. We can perform even better quality assurance on the process, while demonstrably guaranteeing turnaround times and making all information transparent for our customers. Soon, they can use our new app to accurately track all the information regarding their clothes.’
Pleasant working climate
In addition to the strides being made in automation in Hoensbroek, there are improvements to the internal logistics and working conditions for the company's employees. ‘Most of the repetitive work will disappear, so it will become more ergonomically pleasant for people to work,’ says De Win. Although some of the work will be carried out mechanically after the renovation, all employees will be kept on. ‘We are a growing company, so we really need our employees when providing services to our customers.’
Employees have responded enthusiastically to the plans, Görtzen tells us. ‘The people who have been working here the longest and have seen a major expansion before are particularly looking forward to it. They know that this will bring improvements for them.’ Alongside less repetitive work, working conditions will be optimized in other areas. For example, the new machines will produce less noise and underfloor heating will ensure a better working climate in the factory. The expansion also inspires the employees’ confidence in the future, notes Görtzen. ‘Nedlin has always been at the forefront of innovation, and now a new chapter will be added. You see a sense of pride in people because they work in a growing and innovative company.’
The expansion and renovation will be carried out in two phases in the summer and autumn of 2018. A very detailed plan will be drawn up for this process, as production will continue during the renovation. ‘Our customers won't notice the renovation,’ explains De Win. ‘They will mainly benefit from the advantages when the renovation is complete, as there will be an even better framework to ensure quality assurance on our processes and transparency of information.’ De Win states that, in essence, the same transparency will apply to internal production. ‘Anyone who walks into the laundry facilities must be able to understand the process with no need for an explanation – from the dirty laundry that we receive, to the clean laundry that is loaded back into the lorries. If this is clear at first glance, that means it is set up correctly.’