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Today we present our E-Kanban solution to optimize your drug and equipment inventory management in the hospital environment. Because errors and inefficiencies can be very costly, our application facilitates inventory and equipment management at your site, providing data management and related analytics. How do electronic shelf tags improve replenishment management? What are the benefits for the hospital environment?

Managing inventory in the hospital environment


Every day, millions of medications and consumables must be made available to doctors and nurses in hospitals. With hundreds of departments, these organizations cannot leave inventory management to chance. The hospital departments are organized as follows: each has its own pharmacy, supplied by a central point. Medications and materials are stored in bins. Before our IoT solution was implemented, when a bin was empty, the bin label was put in a collection box and sent to the central pharmacy 1-2 times a week. The problem? Either the material was present in the pharmacy, or it was ordered from suppliers. This meant that there could be gaps in consumption for certain references.

Étiquettes à écran Kanban - Editada

In a service pharmacy, there can be 1,000 bins. Sometimes there are few differences between the references. The manual management system has the following limitations

  • Reference reversal errors.

  • Replenishment time that can be long.

To overcome these concerns, manual or semi-manual kanban systems are generally in place. However, standard printed labels also have their limitations:

  • Risk of making mistakes during replenishment and picking.

  • Loss of time when manually scanning the references to be ordered.

The Electronic Shelf Label (ESL) has been developed in response to these various problems faced by hospitals and logistic actors, and this, at several levels:

  • In the warehouse: without EEG, use of the BIN paper label only for stock location. But, little information is displayed and automatic stock update is impossible. Poor visibility of stock due to lack of information.

  • During the picking stage: paper printing leads to a high error rate in picking. The operator has to bring back the paper information to the computer to do the replenishment.

Note: Our solution used in logistics (Pick To Light) differs from the common digitalized Kanban by the fact that it does not require wiring.

Presentation of E-Kanban, the ally of inventory optimization

This solution has already been deployed in hospitals and offers a customised configuration for greater relevance.

Characteristics of the solution


Our E-Kanban solution has the following features:

  • Optimization of your replenishment processes in real time thanks to the association product / pharmacy / quantity / date.

  • Interactive BLE (Bluetooth) labels connected to your ERP system, ensuring simplified verification of expectations for inventories.

  • Fast and secure management: in the event of a product shortage, one button is enough to trigger the order

E-Kanban ➡️ The label has a button to generate orders.

How does the replenishment process work?

  1. When a product is no longer available in the inventory (either because the bins are empty or the safety stock is reached), an operator presses the button on the label to alert. The label changes to indicate a pending replenishment.

  2. An alert is sent to the solution. The people in charge of replenishment in the concerned store trigger the generation of an internal order.

  3. An email is automatically sent to the team in charge of replenishment, during the supply, the operator validates the replenishment action on his tablet. The display is updated: white background which means that the product is available.

HubSpot Video

 

The BLE label

This is the central point of the solution. Thanks to the electronic label with interactive button, the replenishment processes can be triggered by the staff, by simply pressing a button. Here are the different parts of the label:

  • Flashing LED: indicates the position of the bin. Different uses depending on the flashing colors (employees, warnings, notifications...)

  • Interactive button: task confirmation, event notification and change information.

  • Color displayed: notifications and warnings, stock level information, action confirmation

On a daily basis, three displays are available on the tag screen:

☑️ The product is in stock, the operator is allowed to help himself.

🔜 The product is no longer in stock, but a simple click on the button allows to place an order.

 

⛔ The product is in stock, but the operator is not allowed to help himself.

 

Étiquette Électronique 16 couleurs

 

Our labels can display a variety of content including words, images and a table using an image transfer solution.

Here's a new version of a 7-color display label

 

Set up your labels according to your business process

ℹ️ Content
Name and reference of the product, allocation...

📍Location
Position according to your shelving method: aisle n°, shelf n°...

🚨 Replenishment alert
Change of the screen color when a replenishment is in progress.

🔄 Replenishment process
Pressing the button initiates the sending of an email for the replenishment of the reference in question or initiates the automatic ordering of the reference from the supplier.

 

UBI Manager and UBI Cloud: the complements of the labels

Our UBI Manager solution is used to feed the collected data into your IS, thanks to its numerous functionalities:

  • Collecting information from a wide range of acquisition devices.

  • Execution of the functions necessary for the operation of the data collection peripherals (reader, printers, encoding station, reading tunnel...).

  • Connection to industry equipment, PLCs and other specific interfaces.

  • Interfaces with UBI Cloud.


The UBI Cloud interface offers accessibility to KPIs for the operations manager. The convergence and aggregation of data helps in the operations of :

UBI Cloud



  • Planning ;

  • Steering;

  • Information sharing;

  • Performance optimization.


 

UBI Cloud also offers an analysis functionality, and its alert mode allows immediate notification in case of error.

Benefits of the E-Kanban solution for the pharmaceutical industry

The use of BLE labels greatly facilitates inventory management:

  • Request sent with just the push of a button.

  • Real time update.

  • Simple modification of codification, necessary following a change of regulation for example.

  • Fast and secure location through the replenishment control system.

  • Ergonomics and time saving.

  • Cost reduction thanks to the reduction of errors (example: for an equipment manufacturer who sends car wings, a picking error can represent 500 000 euros per day of production stop!)

  • Indication of a substitute product in case of rupture (possible use with the localization in the pharmacy).

  • Durability: 5-year battery.

  • Practicality: no wiring required. When the staff is looking for a reference, the flashing system helps to identify the location of the container.

Finally, the EEG promotes:

  • Digitization and optimization of the replenishment process for stores: reduces operating costs and labor hours by replacing logistics boards for Kanban carts.

  • Order automation: provides a production order and related information for the operator on site

  • Elimination of run-of-mill management: shows location of parts and inventory information.

  • Simplification for operators: provides essential equipment information to the employee for efficient management.

The digitalization of the Kanban method ensures the reliability and optimization of processes and offers time savings. It also offers an improvement in work ergonomics, which is very important for demanding jobs in the health and logistics sectors. Our team of UBI Solutions experts is ready to work with you on site to determine the ideal solution.

For more information, discover all our solutions for Industry 4.0 on our website.

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Renaud Munier

Renaud Munier