FT. LAUDERDALE, FL—Quality and efficiency. It’s hard to come by, but SmartLinen makes it possible. The Florida-based company manufactures hotel towels, sheets and bathrobes with embedded, washable UHF Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, eliminating the need for staff to manually count inventory. It may seem an unlikely pairing, towels and technology, but SmartLinen helps hoteliers track their inventory, allowing them to know when and how many of their linen items are being sent to the laundry and when and how many of them return. This allows hotels to purchase less by gaining efficiencies, which can extend the life of their inventory and, as a result, create bottom-line savings. Having a monitoring solution like SmartLinen can also help solve the problem of missing towels and serve as a deterrent to theft because of its tracking technology.
According to the president and CEO of SmartLinen, William Serbin, a hotel simply has to replace its current linen spend with SmartLinen and it gains visibility and control of its inventory. The technology works in the background and accounts for the total number of items seen over the past 30 days, effectively tracking items not seen in more than 30 days.
“Hotels have always had problems managing inventory and counting linen. One day, driving through an electronic toll, the idea popped into my head that if we could incorporate the same type of technology, we could solve this problem,” Serbin recalled. “SmartLinen provides a comprehensive cost-neutral package that saves hotels money by more effective management and more efficient purchasing. Incorporating high-quality linen with the technology provides hotels the ability to automate the inventory process like never before.”
But how exactly does this technology work? “Washable” and “radio frequency” seem to be an even more unlikely pairing, but it’s actually a straightforward process. The SmartLinen system is powered with a cloud-based software that automatically reports linen inventory data using the RFID technology. Serbin explained, “Our tracking technology is very simple and requires no interaction with hotel management or staff. Hotels simply receive inventory information via email daily.”
Hoteliers are embracing this technology as it’s helping solve a widespread problem. Tamas Vago, hotel manager at The Diplomat Beach Resort, a Curio Collection by Hilton hotel in Hollywood, FL, recognized the problem with missing towels, especially pool towels, and was in search of a system to effectively track them. “We started about six months ago with SmartLinen. We have not used RFID towel tracking technology before. Two years ago when I was the opening hotel manager of the Conrad Fort Lauderdale, I actively searched for the technology but at that time, I could not find a company who had an elevated product that would work,” Vago said.
With SmartLinen, hotel towels are easy to track, as the staff can see if the returned laundry quantities match the sent-out quantities, which helps keep the laundry facility accountable for missing items. “It’s an amazing system. Guests are returning the towels and we are scanning them in and out. I can pull live daily inventories. It’s easy to see how many washes each towel had so we can plan on replacement,” Vago said. “With this system, all is resolved and we can see live inventory and plan purchases efficiently.”
Vago explained that using SmartLinen technology functions as a cycle, with different departments working in tandem, but none of them having to manually count the linens.
“After use, the guest needs to bring them [towels] back and we scan them in and put them in the laundry bin. The laundry bin with soiled towels will be automatically scanned, along with ones at housekeeping and ones at the loading dock,” Vago said. “After transportation to the laundry facility, they scan it in, process it and when they iron them, they scan it again. Then they transport it back to us and we scan again at the loading dock and then housekeeping. After that, the cycle repeats.”
This process allows hotels to make their linen “smart,” meaning the enhanced technology doesn’t compromise its lifespan or comfort, according to the company. Vago agreed, noting that the product is high quality and durable, with no trade down from standard towels.
SmartLinen also frees up time for hotel employees to focus on other areas of management and better accommodate guests.
“Hotel staff has more time to serve guests, and SmartLinen equipment and service cost are included in the price of the product. There are no additional capital expenses or fees,” Serbin said. “The guest ultimately benefits from the application of SmartLinen since the use of our technology enables our linen to circulate more evenly, sustaining it to preserve a better quality and make a superior room presentation.” HB