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What is Kanban and Where Did It Come From?

kanban for healthcare materials managementThe concept of Kanban was popularized by Toyota production facilities back in the late 1940’s. What Kanban does for the healthcare industry is align inventory levels with actual consumption rates; a signal is sent to produce and/or deliver a new shipment when material is consumed. What’s happening now is that Kanban is being used in other markets outside of manufacturing, including healthcare.

Managing materials is just like managing medical products – you supply exactly what’s needed, when it’s needed, and in the amount needed. For manufacturing and material handling this refers to parts; whereas, for healthcare this refers to medical supplies and products.

Six Reasons to Use Kanban for Managing Medical Products

If you’re healthcare facility is still using a manual counting system to manage medical products, here are six reasons you should switch to Kanban.

  1. No Daily Counting Saves Labor Costs
  2. Reduces Re-Supply Trips
  3. Medical Products are Always On-Hand
  4. First-In, First-Out Reduces Expired Medical Products
  5. Shows Patterns & Adjusts to Changes
  6. Promotes Good Inventory Management

Setting Up the Kanban System with an RFID Digital Restocking Tag

rfid digital restock tag will automate the kanban systemOnce you’ve decided to switch to Kanban system, the next step is getting set up. Most of the work is collecting the usage data to decide the right levels of inventory you need for each medical product. The other part is deciding what kind of “trigger” to use to alert material managers that supplies need to be replenished.

One of the most efficient options is to automate the “trigger” process with a RFID digital restocking tag. Once the items in the primary bin are used, a nurse clicks the button on the restocking tag. While the nurses are waiting for supplies to be restocked, nurses pull items from the secondary bin.

A notification is automatically sent to the materials managers with all the information relating to the products that need to be restocked (i.e. quantity and location). Essentially, the RFID digital restocking tag replaces steps in the counting process, saving valuable time while real-time information improves accuracy.

Contact Us for Help Getting Started with Kanban

Southwest Solutions Group® provides storage strategies and solutions like RFID digital restocking tags for managing medical products. We will even provide a free consultation to determine your exact needs. To learn more or to speak with a specialist, call us at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message today.


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