An internationally recognized healthcare network, Baptist Health South Florida currently has 10 hospitals as well as more than 100 physician practices and outpatient facilities, spanning four counties—from Palm Beach to the Florida Keys. Shortly after starting up a new 157,000-square-foot distribution network in 2014, the healthcare network’s operations and IT teams began to investigate its warehouse management systems, primarily to improve its manual materials handling processes.
At the time, picking and other processes were directed by paper, using printed pick lists.
“There was a lot of sorting and stapling of paper before picking. And, managers would have to audit every piece of paper after picking to find out-of-stocks,” says Arturo Aleman, operations supervisor in the low unit of measure (LUM) area.
After evaluating a number of warehouse management system (WMS) options, the healthcare network went in a different direction. Rather than replacing the enterprise resource planning system (ERP) as the system of record for warehouse inventory, it implemented a new work execution system (WES) (from an enterprise software and mobile applications provider) to work alongside its ERP system instead. This implementation was important to Baptist Health, as it wanted a single view of inventory in its distribution center, as well as the hospitals.
In the new system, the work execution software receives orders, inventory and task information from the ERP and then organizes, optimizes and directs the work on the warehouse floor. The new system allows pickers in the LUM area to pick larger batches of orders, whereas the work execution software uses location, priority and other factors to calculate which orders should be grouped together. In doing so, pick density is maximized, while travel is minimized.
Additionally, aside from LUM and bulk picking, the system also directs put away, replenishment, crossdock and cycle counting. In the new system, workers use mobile applications, featuring voice for voice picking and other processes. Workers wear Bluetooth headsets that connect wirelessly to Android devices, and Jennifer Voice directs them through their tasks.
Beyond hands-free operations, the work execution system also provides real-time visibility into operations through Web-based management dashboards. From a Web browser, managers can observe the productivity of workers, view the progress of work and shift around work if necessary. To create friendly competition among its employees, Baptist Health publicizes the top pickers.
Since implementing the work execution system, average picking productivity in the LUM area has doubled, while bulk picking productivity has increased by nearly 20%. Accuracy has also improved to 99.99% and hospitals have benefitted from better predictability in orders. Hospitals even receive packages from the distribution center one to two hours earlier, a significant benefit, as many products are time sensitive.
Baptist Health was able to improve its operations without having to replace inventory systems and invest in a new WMS.
“If anyone is looking to keep their current system of inventory, [this] solution lets you do that—at 1/8 of the cost,” says Dale Adamson, AVP of logistics and distribution, Baptist Health.
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