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Automated Horizontal Carousel For Hospital Surgical Supply Storage

Aspirus Wausau Hospital supply processing and dispatch department required more hospital supply storage for their 301 bed 15 surgical suite facility. Their challenge was to become more efficient by using less distribution space and increasing their cost per pick. They solved the problem with the Automated Horizontal Carousel picking system from Remstar. “Our patients care is our first and highest priority. Our departments mission is to have everyday support items to critical surgical supplies on hand when our doctors and our nurses need them.” Available on Vizient GPO Contract #CE2900 (Vizient customers call for contract pricing. Click here to learn more about the 5 key benefits of horizontal carousels.

Order Processing Before the Automated Horizontal Carousel System

automated surgical supply carousel saves time and floor space

The supply processing and dispatch departments’ automated shelving carousel system has dramatically impacted the department’s ability to service the hospital. “Under the old system when we used to have shelves and carts filled with supplies and our people would have to walk and search up and down the line to fill the orders. The estimated cost of processing each transaction was roughly 60 cents. Today, using the Remstar automated horizontal carousel system, the cost is roughly 7 cents; a savings of over 88% per transaction. The previous manual system had allowed 10,000 items to be processed per month. The new system has 21,000 items being processed per month with 0 errors. The supply processing and dispatch departments manual picking system would average 36 errors per month, today the carousel system has helped us hit 0 errors.”

Flow of Surgical Supply Materials To the Automated Horizontal Carousels

Pallets and cases of goods are received at an off site warehouse. When supplies are needed for the Remstar carousel, they are sent to Aspirus Wausau Hospital receiving dock for distribution to the supply processing and dispatch department. Inventory is buffered and staged on the replenishment side of the horizontal carousels so as not to interrupt the picking flow. Items are picked from the opposite side of the carousel shelving and then distributed to their appropriate department and operating room.

How The Automated Horizontal Carousels Work for Hospitals

A pod or work station of four horizontal carousels, with pick light towers, and fast pick inventory management software helps drive the supply distribution and has saved over 75% of the previously required floor space. The carousel holds 2,296 different types of medical supplies or SKU’s for the surgical department and other in patient units. This translates to a quantity of inventory on the horizontal carousels that is over 254,000 items. Approximately 99% of the orders are processed through the carousel system. The system operates 24/7 to meet the constant needs of the hospital. The picking area is sterile and requires all operators to wear appropriate hair and gown attire.

spinning wire shelves powered horizontal rotating shelving surgery storage

Automated Order Picking With The Hospital Horizontal Carousels

For order picking, orders are entered to the fast pick software terminal. The horizontal carousel shelving spins via the shortest path to present the proper bin to the operator. The pick light tower indicates the shelf level, the cell, and the correct quantity to pick. The operator makes the pick and confirms the transaction by hitting the ‘task complete’ button on the floor. While the operator is picking from one bin, the other bins are pre-positioning for the next pick. Once the task complete button has been hit, the next pick light tower is activated directing the operator to the next pick. This round robin method of picking from the horizontal carousels is repeated until the order, and wave of orders are completed. As items are picked, the orders are placed in totes in the front of the system. Completed orders are then placed on a cart for delivery.

Batch picking and stat picks With The Automated Horizontal Carousels

The majority of picking consists of batch picking, where up to seven orders are picked simultaneously, with ten to thirty items per order. A stat pick occurs when there is an immediate need within the facility for an item or items. When this occurs, the current batch picking is paused and the stat pick is retrieved from the carousel shelving system and delivered to the requested department immediately. Once the stat pick is taken care of, the batch picking resumes where it let off. “In our old system, every item had multiple names which made searching for the items extremely difficult. With Remstar’s fast pick software, it allows SKU numbers and alias names to be created for each piece of inventory. This makes items very easy for the operators to find. The Remstar automated carousel system has helped our supply processing and dispatch department not only step up its capacity, but increase its efficiencies.

Design and Planning Automated Horizontal Carousels Storage Equipment

Want to know if a horizontal carousel makes sense for your facility? We offer design and planning assistance to help you determine if an automated carousel will benefit your hospital facility. Send us a message or call us toll free at 1-800-803-1083 for more information on automated horizontal carousel systems.


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