Healthcare : Automating & Verifying Critical Packing Documents for a Medical Device Company

A medical supplies company was shipping out thousands of medical devices and products per day to different hospitals across the country. Their fully manual process had hit its peak and management decided to strategically invest in automation to maximize their existing labor force, eliminate errors, and increase their capabilities to handle additional volume. The Company’s goal was to double their throughput – from 10 per minute to 20 per minute to keep up with the demand and to make sure the orders was shipped out in a timely manner.

Important Documentation Requirements

In the medical field, having the proper documentation accompany the products is key. Each carton needs to include a documentation that has a list of products and associated patient ID, the destination hospital, and in some cases, operating instructions (up to three pages per order). If the wrong documentation is included in the order, it could mean delays to medical procedures or critical monitoring from being unable to reconcile supplies with what was needed for the scheduled appointments. With such high stakes, the automation project needed to include a print on demand solution that ensured that the correct documents were inserted into the correct order.

Reducing Hiring Costs

The company’s hiring costs were skyrocketing due to the manual process in their order fulfillment. The warehouse had 10 pack lines, requiring five operators on each line to process the orders. High turnover and a labor shortage led to increased hiring costs. Management was hoping that automation would address the labor needs and help their fulfillment operations scale without a drastic increase in headcount.

The Automated Solution

The Integrator engaged to design the full solution brought PSI onto the project, knowing PSI’s machines had the capabilities to accomplish the customer’s needs. PSI’s solutions team worked with the integrator and customer’s team to determine which print feeder model would be best suited for this application.

PSI’s Print Feeder Single Fold (PFSF) was tested and installed at the customer’s facility. The Print Feeder printed documents on demand and the built-in verification system ensured the correct documents were being included in the open box orders.

For devices that were being shipped out in their original packaging, PSI added an Autoslip on another line so the documentation could be printed, pouched, and applied to the top of the already closed, original pack container. The same verification system was in place to confirm the correct documents were included with the correct order.

For both lines, the order would be sent down a reject lane if there was a mismatch between the documentation and the order. Adding the PFSF and Autoslip allowed the documentation area to keep up with the target throughput of 20 per minute and significantly reduced time spent fixing errors.

The operators previously assigned to this area were relocated upstream. The overhauled system resulted in a drastic reduction in errors, increased throughput, and reduced hiring costs due to fewer headcount.

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