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Market entry: gate-startup sewts tackles labor shortages with robotics


gate-startup sewts has successfully launched its first product. As in numerous other industries, the shortage of labor in the textile service sector is currently a key challenge that the Munich-based robotics startup sewts is addressing with the development of innovative automation solutions.

The first delivery of the VELUM system, with which robotics makes its way into industrial laundries, was completed in the beginning of November 2022. The system is now in operation at Greif Textile Mietsysteme in Wolfratshausen, where it closes a significant gap in automation.

For Co-Founder and CEO Alexander Bley, the delivery is an important milestone in the advancement of sewts:

“With VELUM, we have succeeded in launching an absolutely new kind of product. We are excited that this also marks a new chapter in our company’s history.”

Since 2019, sewts has been working on innovative technology for the automated processing of deformable materials, such as textiles or foils. These have so far been excluded from progress in automation technology due to their complex material properties. VELUM is now proving that it is possible to automate the handling of shape-unstable materials in industrial processes in an economically profitable way.

Two more systems are about to be operational, and a total of 16 deliveries is planned for the current year. sewts is addressing a target group of almost 25,000 companies worldwide with its first product, VELUM, which presently processes an average of 500-600 textiles per hour.

“The current performance of VELUM is comparable to that of a human. Through over-the-air software updates, the range of functions is continuously being expanded – just as with smartphones, for example,”

emphasizes Till Rickert, Co-Founder and CPO at sewts.

Industrial laundries process immense quantities of towels, bed linen and work clothes, mainly for hotels, hospitals and nursing homes, but also for laboratories and craft businesses. Labor shortages are a significant problem for these businesses, as it is proving increasingly difficult to find workers for repetitive manual tasks that previously could not be automated. In addition, cost efficiency is currently playing an important role due to the difficult energy situation.

Greif Textile Mietsysteme offers an innovative rental laundry system with a network of 10 locations throughout Germany. The individual plants process up to 100 tons of textiles per day, making them some of the largest laundries in Europe. The company is therefore an ideal partner for the first-time use of robotics in this market.

The processing of deformable materials is also a frequent challenge in other industries. Alexander Bley regularly meets with representatives of various industries and concludes:

“The need for automation will increase in all areas in the coming years, as the local capacity of manual labor is insufficient in many places, while at the same time there is a need to avoid dependence on vulnerable and climate-damaging supply chains. Our technology is designed to be transferred to more applications and can make a huge contribution to this.”

In addition to the further development of VELUM, the development of a second automation solution has already begun at sewts. In cooperation with a well-known e-commerce company, the returns processing of clothing is to be significantly simplified.

About sewts: Founded in 2019 and based in Munich, sewts GmbH provides cutting-edge perception software, pushing the boundaries of robotics in processing of easily deformable materials. The gate-startup has developed and demonstrated a unique technology that uses high-precision simulations to efficiently train machine learning algorithms. The intelligent software solution is being combined with suitable hardware and enables countless applications in industrial automation like the handling of textiles in industrial laundries or the manufacturing of garment. sewts is backed by APEX Ventures, Bayern Kapital, High-Tech Gründerfonds, UnternehmerTUM Initiative for Industrial Innovators, the gate Garching and a couple of highly experienced business angels.