Although there was nothing wrong with Hospital Logistic Inc.’s (HLI) current supply chain management system, David Yundt, the president and COO of the Oakville, Ont.-based company, is always on the lookout for new technology to help improve his company’s supply chain.
One of the new technologies Yundt took a serious interest in was Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). And last month, HLI announced it had entered into an agreement with MTS Allstream Inc. to provide RFID technology.
“We have been aware and interested in the technology before but Allstream was the spark that prompted us to do something,” Yundt said. “To some degree, we got to a point with our existing process and technology where it would be difficult and cost prohibitive for us to do some of the things that RFID might be able to bring us,” he added.
Yundt was approached by Allstream several months ago about RFID. “A lot of other companies where just talking about the technology but [Allstream] seems to want to make it happen.”
HLI provides surgical equipment to several hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area such as Toronto General and Mount Sinai Hospital. Currently, HLI’s supply chain management system is a manual process where totes are matched to carts that go to specific nursing units or operating rooms in hospitals that HLI services. Totes contain the orders for hospitals such as surgical equipment for heart surgery.
“We are going to be applying RFID tags to the totes and the carts. It will automatically tell us if the tote is not on the correct cart and eliminate the manual checking process as well as flag errors,” Yundt said.
He added, the new system should hopefully eliminate totes going to the wrong nursing unit or hospital.
What Allsream is providing to HLI is the whole solution, which includes the tags, the readers and the software that will do the look-up to determine whether the tote is on right cart.
In addition, Allstream is developing the application that will offer the online managed-hosted environment for inventory management.
Yundt anticipates some challenges with RFID. “The technology itself is still early on, some of the physical aspect could be a challenge and I have also heard some tags and read rates are not 100 per cent. It is going to be a little trial and error,” he said.
Ron McKenzie, executive vice-president, marketing and business development for Allstream, said the RFID implementation for HLI will be completed in two phases and will hopefully be completed this year.