ZMK: RFID controlled stock management
Ziekenhuis Maas en Kempen (ZMK) in Maaseik is the first large low-rise hospital in Flanders. The new building looks very contemporary and is at the same time very functional. The unique building concept consists of 5 large buildings which are fully integrated into the surrounding green landscape. ZMK has a capacity of 226 beds and wants to profile itself as a healing environment, which implies that it offers peace and quiet to patients, staff and visitors.
Due to the continuous economies imposed in healthcare, it was essential for ZMK to increase efficiency in all possible areas, including in its logistics department. For stock management, a 2-box Kanban system was chosen, for it respects the FiFO (First In First Out) principle and avoids stock breakdowns. Automating the ordering process was a further logical step as manual order taking is extremely time consuming.
Through market research, ZMK learned that replenishment via RFID detection would be the most effective solution. However, such a system would be complex and difficult because of the specific materials used in a hospital (medical products, metals, fluids, ...). They started looking for a partner who had the required experience, could complete the full integration and could guide them through the entire process. ZMK finally found this expertise at Aucxis.
Real-time stock detection
In the storage rooms, all product locations/boxes were provided with an empty/full ticket holder with built-in RFID chip. These ticket holders remain present on the ISO modules and can be reused indefinitely. RFID antennas were placed in the back of the racks or above the ceiling. When adding or removing a product, the hospital staff can turn the cover plate; the RFID antennas detect the stock status (pick/no-pick/order) in real time. There is also a clear visual distinction between the different statuses.
Picking list in no time
In the warehouse a picking list can be created for a specific department at the touch of a button. The list is automatically arranged by walking route in the central warehouse.
- When a box ticket holder is changed to "empty" status, an order is automatically generated, or the action is transmitted to the WMS.
- The necessary lists and filter modules allow for the administrator to quickly and intelligently view data and monitor the stock.
- For maintenance and backup purposes, a handheld scanner can be used to check the status per box in real time, or to verify the entire warehouse order inventory.
- Any error messages can be retrieved or can be notified to the administrator via an alert server.
- Via a management module, which is started from a web browser, the RFID reader park can be easily configured and managed by the system administrator from a PC or handheld.
- Significant speed gain. It used to take an hour to manually create an order list for a department, but now this is achieved with a single push of a button.
- More time available for other care related tasks.
- Fewer errors because the orders are processed automatically.
- Increased efficiency. In the past, hospital staff had to collect forgotten materials from the warehouse several times a week, sometimes even a day; this has decreased enormously.
- The FiFo principle is better applied.