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Hospital’s Dolly System Adds Mobility

Midwestern medical system’s dolly eases logistics of moving supply racks within multiple departments; helps workers identify what is in the bin, scan a label or restock the bin.

The relocation of active departments within a medical facility is a daunting process. Just ask the materials managers at a Midwestern medical system with multiple locations serving more than one million patients per year. They discovered how challenging the process can be when they moved departments as part of a construction project at the system’s main campus.

A team led by the system’s materials management director was tasked with coordinating the logistics of moving multiple departments as the medical system expanded its main campus facility. The director says the team designated a floor to temporarily accommodate units that were displaced during the project.

Once a unit’s new space was completed, the department moved again. But the materials managers found that transporting the medical supply racks was more time-consuming than the departments can afford.

“The issue was that we used standalone, single-sided louvered racks to store supplies in plastic storage bins—and sometimes these racks were placed in hallways,” he says. “For each move we had to take the racks down, put them on a cart, and rebuild them when they got to their new location. It takes forever, and it’s very labor-intensive.”

So the team asked Akro-Mils, a North American provider of storage, organization and transport products, to create a dolly to make this challenging job easier.

Going mobile

The medical system officials had several important requirements for the new product, including the following:

• Swivel casters, so racks can be moved easily for reassignment or storage area cleaning

• Locking brakes, so racks can be securely positioned anywhere

• A design that meets requirements of healthcare accrediting organization The Joint Commission, such as bottom height off of the floor, and maximum total height requirements.

Akro-Mils’ New Product Development Team subsequently created a dolly designed specifically for the company’s model 30661 Single-Sided Louvered Rack. The dolly features heavy-duty, all-steel construction; bolt-on casters for easy replacement; floor locks; and a durable, powder-coated finish.

Expected and unforeseen benefits

The materials management director says the new dollies have transformed the medical system’s “stand-alones.” The new mobile racks have given benefits including needed mobility, ease of use, and maximized storage space.

“With the new dolly we can move a rack, hit the brakes, and that’s it,” he says. “The supplies stored on the mobile racks are ready for use immediately. And when we know that a department is moving, we can set up mobile racks in advance and wheel them into place.”

And the materials management team also found an unexpected benefit, he adds: “With the new dolly, when you put a bin on the rack it gives what we think is a better angle for viewing. That makes it much easier to identify what is in the bin, scan a label or restock the bin. It was a great bonus!”

Future plans

The director says the successful use of the initial dollies is leading to an effort to add dollies to all single-sided racks in the system. The materials management team also is considering the racks for procedure carts and other uses.

“Because this new dolly says ‘mobile,’ we can think of a million and one things to do with it,” he says. “This will be the blueprint for everything we do moving forward.”

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