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BayCare deploys robots to automate medical supply distribution

por John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | August 18, 2023
Business Affairs Parts And Service
BayCare has integrated 25 robots into its warehouse supply distribution process.
Not-for-profit BayCare has refined the supply distribution process at its integrated service center (BISC) by deploying 25 state-of-the-art robots to assemble and transport approximately 12,000 daily orders requested by the health system’s 16 hospitals and hundreds of doctor's offices, laboratories, and ambulatory surgical centers in West Central Florida.

The robots are designed by Locus Robotics, which specializes in automated warehouse robotics, and will work in conjunction with BISC’s employees. At the 258,000-square-foot facility, the solution is assigned an order and a worker uses a touchscreen to select an item listed. Mapping software then directs the robot and the employee on the most efficient route to the item.

At the location, the employee loads the item into the robot’s tote bag and then selects the next item to find on the touchscreen. When the entire order is completed, the robot transports the supplies to the docking station for shipping. This reduces physical demands on BISC team members, who before had to push nearly 300 pounds of supplies around in carts, and ensures that orders are completed accurately and faster.

“The integration of robotics has resulted in increased productivity, offset labor-related challenges, and helped team members feel more engaged and empowered in their roles,” Victor Celiberti, BayCare’s supply chain director, told HCB News.

Providers across the U.S. and worldwide are increasingly integrating robotics into their supply distribution operations. Back in May, MultiCare Health System in Tacoma, Washington state introduced four robot assistants designed by Moxi at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital and Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital to deliver lab specimens and gather supplies.

According to Celiberti, robotic integration should be planned out and tested and should be aligned with information systems to ensure smooth data transmissions between warehouse management systems and robotics systems bidirectionally.

Space is also a priority, he says. “BayCare spent countless hours looking at our space on how best to utilize it for the type of items we pick, pack, and ship to our customers. We moved many items into the area where robots would be utilized to capture the efficiency we were looking for. Robots are used in one of our four picking zones, making up 50% of our total pick, pack, and ship volume.”

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