COVID-19 and your business
The common denominator of industrial textiles is that laundries pick up soiled linen, wash, and return it clean in a continuous logistic cycle. Our tracking process runs in parallel, recording the transfer of goods each time these change hands, and responsibility is transferred to the next party.
The tracking process interferes in no way with the logistic cycle, which remains unchanged.
The efficiency and quality of tracking of tagged items is measured by the completeness of data capture at each of the reading stations. Poor read performance of UHF RFID enabled items is one of the main reasons for past failures.
The most impactful improvement of the tracking process is our invention of an aggregation algorithm, which delivers unprecedented reading accuracy.
The industry norm has been to use ‘brute-force’ to maximize results, by relying on increasingly more powerful and sophisticated readers with multiple bigger antennas, in an attempt to achieve maximum accuracy in one single reading.
However, results did not improve sufficiently, as physical factors such as humidity, density and position of tags, the material of a laundry container, etc. interfere with the electromagnetic field. This makes 100% accuracy in one reading at best improbable, irrespective of the power of the reader used.
Instead of relying on hardware-based ‘brute-force’, our tracking process comprises multiple readings. Accepting regular incompleteness of readings, our software uses aggregation algorithms to create full accuracy.
At the time of its development, aggregation in textile tracking was so innovative that we were awarded a patent for its invention.
The challenging time of Covid lockdown has impacted on people in many ways, some withdrawing into hermit like isolation, some going a bit crazy to entertain themselves, and some have used the opportunity to hit the ‘pause button’ on their task oriented working life, to reflect and take stock on some strategic issues that we often do not have the time to contemplate.
Certainly, at LossLess Group we fall into the latter category. As a relatively young business we have been flat out doing today’s important things and not always allowing our strategy and purpose to catch up. The Covid ‘pause’ has allowed us to reflect on what we are trying to achieve, and how we are going about it.
We have also been able to document in detail, and after careful consideration, our strategy and business plan. This has led to our development of a new website, social media presence and a clear sense where we a travelling.
Perhaps the toughest challenge has been to define what we actually do. In the past, businesses have had a simple definition, as retail, manufacturing or banking etc. However, today businesses have far more complex definitions, as generally their definition would encompass some element of service, technology, marketing or innovation.
At LossLess Group we provide many activities that combine to make our business unique and compelling. We use highly complex technical RFID equipment to produce data. We have patented algorithms that create valuable information for our customers.
We use the Internet of Things to provide new processes to transform our client’s businesses. We provide a hands-on service to help our clients change the shape of their own operations. We provide leasing solutions to make the transformation cash efficient.
This all makes the challenge of describing our business within conventional terminology as quite mind boggling. Undoubtedly, we provide an asset tracking technology service, using RFID and the Internet of Things to allow businesses to maximize the availability of their key assets. Perhaps we are a ‘transformation enabler’?
Applied to the Hospitality sector, the technology converts commoditized rented hotel linen to valuable tangible assets that can be tracked through their lifecycle journey from room to laundry and back again.
The data generated allows hotels and laundries to reduce the amount of linen in circulation, improving reliability and reducing costs. As an asset, the linen can be financed by leasing it through LossLess Group, resulting in improved cash utilization and increased EBITDA performance.
It all makes perfect sense to us, but if you need more of an explanation about how we transform our client’s businesses, why not get in touch.
RFID tracking has been long coming as the inevitable future of textiles management. However, it never did, and it’s now at least 10 years overdue. Reasons given to explain this failure are cost, lack of accuracy and the absence of tangible benefits.
At LossLess Group, we have systematically worked on fixing each of these concerns. As regards cost, our system basically pays for itself from the savings it generates. Accuracy we achieve through a patented aggregation algorithm built into the system.
Our value propositions generate multiple benefits, not only measured in operational and financial terms.
Our services also address health and safety concerns, and contribute to environmental sustainability.
Connecting textiles turns them into assets with a residual value. This attribute opens up lease, a transaction option not available to date. Lease marries the economics of owning assets with the cash flow benefits of renting.
Traceability provides information about the price of textiles, items in circulation, number of washes, and losses. This functionality sheds light on the composition of the all-inclusive pay-per-wash tariff, generally used in the industry.
Often, hotels and hospitals choose a rental service because they find it difficult to control the lifecycle of their textiles. This choice is made despite a lack of understanding the real economics of that service.
From a financial perspective, visibility gained from traceability begs the question if rental of assets that are used on a daily basis should still be the preferred option.
This extension of transaction models is a natural consequence of the inevitable evolution of technology. As such, it should not be perceived as offensive, but as call for change. Connected textiles is a new industry that opens up a plethora of opportunities.
Everybody has a role to play, and an opportunity to benefit from these opportunities. Contact us if you want to know more.
Many people have accused The Internet of Things of being a solution looking for a problem. However, at its inception, it was a solution for a very real problem. The US retail industry was running out of barcode combinations, and approached MIT to develop a different method to represent data.
The solution MIT came up with was EPCglobal, the global standard for UHF-RFID identification. Not surprisingly, its potential went far beyond and above its original scope of replacing the primitive barcode. It created options nobody had contemplated yet, like connecting things.
When a technology is ahead of its time, the world takes a while to catch up. Nearly 20 years have passed since EPCglobal was founded, and many people still have doubts about the Internet of Things. It has proved to be difficulty to marry usefulness with an effective monetization model. As a result, we have incorporated only a surprisingly small number of connected things in our lives. Instead of the Internet of Everything, it looks more like the Internet of Nothing.
At LossLess Group, we believe we have found a problem that has been desperately looking for a solution. We have adapted the EPCglobal technology to manage industrial textiles, as used in hospitality and healthcare. TaaS, Textiles as a Service, delivers unprecedented control throughout the lifecycle of textiles. It offers operational and financial savings, and contributes to health & safety, and environmental sustainability.
TaaS benefits all parties involved in the textile trade, from hospitals to hotels, laundries and textile manufactures. Long live the Internet of Textiles.
There are countless descriptions of the Internet of Things, and even more fancy infographics to visualize functionalities and benefits. Basically, to explain how it all works. To use one such description: the Internet of Things is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs), with the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
That is quite a mouthful, and I think the most important part of that definition is in the last few words. Eliminating human interference from the process of data transfer is not a bad idea. We tend to impact on communication processes in a way that is not always beneficial to the quality of the outcome. Machines have no personal interest in whatever information is exchanged between them and, let’s be honest, they don’t make as many mistakes as we do. I find it amazing that in our technology-driven society it took so long to come up with such a brilliant idea.
I love the story how Coca Cola back in 1982 modified one of their vending machine at Carnegie Mellon University to automatically report its inventory, and whether newly loaded drinks were cold or not. There is general consensus that vending machine was officially the first Internet-connected appliance. However, most people seem to agree it was Kevin Ashton of Procter & Gamble who actually named it Internet of Things. This was back in 1999, when he was working in supply chain optimization, and attempting to integrate an exciting technology called RFID into that process.
At LossLess Group, we connect textiles by attaching an RFID tag, enabling them to communicate with other RFID-enabled items through the Internet of Things. We have learned very early on not to interfere in that process, which probably explains why our tracking system is so successful.
At LossLess Group , we consider it one of our primary responsibilities to help flatten the curve of environmental mismanagement. We operate in interconnected industries that have a common denominator: Textiles, a one trillion dollar annual market.
According to the WWF, the production of inorganic cotton is a relevant factor for the destruction of freshwater ecosystems. Each year, cotton producers use as much as 25% of the world’s insecticides and more than 10% of the world’s pesticides. By using our system, customers can better predict future textile requirements. This establishes a more efficient just-in-time pickup and delivery process with their laundries, and prevents overstocking because nobody knows if there is enough on site, or when clean linen will be delivered.
Also, making textiles traceable has a preventive effect on theft, resulting in fewer replacements and washes needed. Fewer wash cycles means lower usage of detergents, water, gas and electricity, and lower carbon emissions. Finally, failure to manage textiles when taken out of circulation has serious environmental consequences. Most textiles end up as waste, and are an increasing component of landfills, estimated to exceed 100 billion pounds globally, one third in the United States alone.
These materials can take up to 50 years to decompose. It is estimated some 95% of all textiles have the potential to be recycled, but only 15% are. Our lease model exists because we are able to attribute a residual value to textiles, making them fit for trading in a secondary market and re-use. We believe companies will implement our system not only to manage the lifecycle of their textiles, but also to contribute to social responsibility initiatives. Lower consumption of textiles, and more efficient wash and distribution models improve carbon footprint and reduce the use of natural resources.
Our tracking system TaaS, Textiles as a Service, is the product of integrating UHF RFID with other innovative technologies. RFID, an acronym for Radio Frequency Identification, is a wireless communication technology that uses radio waves to identify and track objects. Over the last 20 years, it has been commercialized, and is used in areas as diverse as supply chain and tracking cows in a field.
RFID belongs to a group of technologies referred to as Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC). AIDC methods automatically identify objects, collect data about them, and transmit those data directly into computer systems with little or no human intervention. At LossLess Group, we use an ultra-high frequency form of the technology: UHF RFID.
UHF RFID offers a read range that allows us to track both individual items and bulk shipments. We focus primarily on industrial textiles that are used in hospitality and healthcare. You would be surprised to learn how many hotels and hospitals have difficulty managing their expensive bed sheets, pillowcases and towels.
In your daily life, you probably already work with a technology that is based on RFID protocols. When you pay for groceries by holding your credit card or mobile phone close to a chip card reader, the communication between the two is through NFC.
The difference between RFID and NFC is the distance over which communication takes place, and the name NFC makes this clear: Near Field Communication. It’s the reason you have to hold your phones so close together when you’re sharing photos with a friend of that great vacation in Florida.
My colleague Benoit de Backer has written an article on ‘The true cost of connected linen’. In it, he explains in some detail the various components of the UHF RFID tag we use at LossLess Group. Our focus has always been on delivering benefits from an integrated system, but you may be interested in a bit more detail of the underlying technology, in which RFID plays a big role.