How to Apply LEAN Practices in Your Warehousing Facility

Apply LEAN Practices in Your Warehousing FacilityLEAN practices are all about reducing waste; however in the past, LEAN practices typically only applied to the production and manufacturing of standardized products. Warehousing and distribution, on the other hand, are service industries that are very far from standardized because the customer is able to choose from thousands of items. With this view, how can the same LEAN practices used in manufacturing apply to your warehousing facility?

8 Types of Waste Found in Warehousing & Distribution

When you look at the waste found in manufacturing, you will see similar types of waste in warehousing and distribution. According to the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW), “Since warehousing is nothing more than managing space and time, reducing waste starts with identifying the poor use of both.” In NAW’s book Lean Warehousing they describe 8 types of waste found in warehousing,

  1. Overproduction in manufacturing results in wasted materials. In warehousing, an excess of inventory has the same result.
  2. Waiting is a waste of time. This is as true in warehouse operations as it is in production.
  3. Unnecessary movement of cargo is a major source of waste in materials handling.
  4. Over processing is a waste in production – in warehousing it is over checking.
  5. Poor inventory control represents waste, particularly when stock-outs are frequent.
  6. Movement is a waste when it involves hunting for tools, or stored items that cannot be located.
  7. Defective parts waste production; in warehousing, errors result in waste.
  8. Unused employee creativity represents a waste of human resources.

Once you have identified the causes of waste in your facility, you can move forward and apply LEAN practices.

Equipment to Help Facilitate LEAN Practices for Warehousing

Goods-to-Person Storage and Retrieval Equipment for WarehousingManaging space, time, and inventory to reduce waste is a large task. That’s why investing in the right equipment solutions will help you facilitate LEAN practices. Depending on your particular needs, there are a variety of equipment solutions including,

  • Vertical lift modules (VLM): The vertical lift modules store small, medium, and large parts in the least amount of floor space possible.
  • Vertical Carousels: The vertical carousels maximize the storage of small parts in bins.
  • Horizontal carousels: The horizontal carousels increase picking efficiency by allowing for batch picking.

Each of these machines operates on the goods-to-person principle: delivering stored items directly to the user. This eliminates the time workers spend searching for items. In addition, the VLM and vertical carousels have an ergonomically positioned work counter that helps to reduce injuries related to bending, twisting, and reaching for stored items.

Other equipment designed to maximize the use of space in your warehouse includes,

  • Compact pallet racks: The compact pallet racks condense the floor space required for storage by 50% while maintaining accessibility.
  • Mezzanines: The mezzanines use vertical space to add another level of floor space to your warehouse.
  • Specialty vertical carousels: The specialty vertical carousels store items like rolls of textiles, tires, hanging garments, wire spools, and print cylinders.Contact Us for Help with LEAN Practices

Contact the Storage Experts at Southwest Solutions Group for Help

Applying LEAN practices and investing in the right equipment starts with first identifying the areas of your warehouse that are creating the most waste. Southwest Solutions Group’s material handling experts can help. We offer a variety of equipment solutions that will help your warehouse and distribution center become more efficient and sustainable. Contact us by phone at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message.


Stacking Hospital Beds Using Vertical Storage Racks

How Beds are Typically Stored in HospitalsTypical Hospital Bed Storage Space

One of the top causes of Joint Commission citations is empty hospital beds stored in corridors. Even if your hospital is lucky enough to have a room to store hospital beds – the situation is seldom ideal.

Finding and gaining access to a specific bed often involves climbing on and over several beds to locate the one you need. And of course once the right bed is found, you have to begin the task of clearing a path so it can be retrieved. This time consuming process leads to damaged hospital beds and exposes employees to injury.

Why Vertical Storage Racks are a Better Solution

Vertical Storage Racks for Hospital BedsA better solution is to stack spare or broken hospital beds in a secure vertical arrangement. Not only does this save valuable floor space, it removes a potential life safety issue from hospital corridors. Using a storage rack for hospital beds will improve the efficiency of a hospital’s maintenance department and increase the number of beds available for patient use at any given moment. Vertical Storage Racks for Hospital Beds

The storage racks also have the added advantage of reducing the need for extra hospital beds, freeing up capital for other uses. (Click to read a case study on vertical storage racks used for a hospital’s facility and engineering department.)

Hospital bed stacking is based on last in – first out picking (LIFO). The first bed is pushed onto the rack then raised, opening the space underneath it for the next bed. One person can do the entire procedure by simply pushing a button.

How Can Hospitals Best Use the Vertical Storage RacksStoring Hospital Beds Vertically

Here is an example of how you can use the storage racks. Line one wall of a storage and maintenance space with the racks to store beds that are ready for use and on the other wall use storage racks for beds awaiting service and repair. This set-up reduces bed handling, improves inventory control, and improves cycle time to change out beds.

Contact Us for Help Storing Your Hospital Beds

Southwest Solutions Group® provides design and installation services for vertical storage racks. If you need more information on this innovative new way of storing hospital beds, please give us a call at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message.


Tempest Automated Washer for Cleaning Surgical Instruments

Problems Associated with Manually Cleaning Surgical InstrumentsManually Cleaned Surgical Instruments Still Dirty

Surgical instruments are getting smaller and more complex, which is great for the surgeon and patient but it makes them harder to really clean. If the equipment can’t be cleaned, then it can’t be sterilized. Some of the challenges associated with the manual cleaning of surgical instruments include:

  • The design of the instrument
  • Insufficient cleaning instructions from the manufacturer
  • Acumen or motivation of the Central Sterile Processing department
  • Manual processes that cannot be accurately repeated
  • Matter setting in prior to cleaning
  • Special challenges with suction tubes and laparoscopic devices that have long lumens

Tempest Automated Washer Better Surgical Instrument CleaningSo what happens the next time these surgical instruments are used – even after sterilization – is that the organic matter is uncovered, exposing patients to surgical site infections (SSIs).

Unmatched Cleaning Results Using the Tempest Automated Washer

Our solution to these challenges is the Tempest automated washer. The Tempest washer surpasses the AAMI benchmarks for “clean” by over 400%, and tests conducted by Nelson Labs show that the Tempest produced a 6 log reduction, meaning bacteria levels were 1,000,000 lower following the washing.

How the Tempest Automated Washer Works to Clean Surgical InstrumentsTempest Automated Washer for Cleaning Surgical Instruments

The Tempest automated washer covers 2 manual processes and 2 automated processes to act as both a washer and a disinfector, offering consistent cleaning results that simply cannot be duplicated manually. The Tempest uses a combination of high-powered washing actions: ultrasonics, enzymatic soaks, agitation, exterior and interior sprays, and air injection bubble cavitation stream (watch a video to see the Tempest automated washer in action).

The Tempest Cleans All Kinds of Surgical Instruments

The Tempest automated washer can be used for cleaning all types of surgical instruments:

  • cannulated instruments
  • suction tubes
  • endoscopy devicesSurgical Instruments Cleaned in Washer
  • kerrisons
  • laparoscopic instruments
  • robotic arms

Contact Us to Learn More About the Tempest Automated Washer

Southwest Solutions Group® provides design and installation services for the Tempest automated washer. For more information or to speak with a healthcare specialist, give us a call at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message.


Sheet Music and Instrument Storage | Shelving, Cabinets, Lockers & Carts

A Wide Range of Sheet Music and Instrument Storage Solutionsuniversity school and church Instrument storage cabinets

K-12 schools, universities, and churches frequently have problems finding efficient ways to store their sheet music and instruments. When it is time to perform, the last thing you need is missing sheet music or damaged instruments. We offer a variety of sheet music and instrument storage solutions including shelving, cabinets, lockers and carts. Our range of storage products will provide the benefits of extra floor space, easy access, better organization, and increased security.

Different Types of Shelving, Cabinets, Lockers & Carts

Keyless intelligent lockers: These lockers will store all sizes of band and orchestra instruments and provide an extremely high level of security.

Rolling folio cabinets: These cabinets will keep all your sheet music organized and easily accessible. And you can take it with you wherever you need it.

Lateral sliding shelving: This solution takes stationary open shelving and places it on tracks to create double deep storage. Because you can use your existing open shelving, the sliding shelving is a very budget friendly way to store sheet music.

Roll-out shelving units for sheet music and instrument storageInstrument storage cabinets: You can easily keep instruments in your school and church safe and secure in instruments storage cabinets.

Roll-out shelving units: The roll-out shelving units can double your sheet music storage capacity compared to traditional lateral cabinets. Also, they easily fit in awkward and tight spaces.

Stringed instrument cart: The cart is specifically designed for storing and transporting bases and cellos. You can easily carry instruments through doorways, into practice halls, and into rehearsal and performance areas.

Contact Us for Sheet Music and Instrument Storage Solutions

Southwest Solutions Group® has been providing solutions to help schools and churches efficiently store and organize sheet music and instruments since 1969. If you are searching for the best way to store sheet music and instruments in your school or church, give us a call at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message and we will put you in touch with your local representative.


Document Scanning Services for Converting to a Paperless Office


In the previous article, we discussed factors to consider before transitioning to a paperless office. Businesses who convert to a paperless office have more cost-effective business operations, are more eco-friendly, and are more efficient because they don’t have to worry about pushing paper or spend large amounts of time searching through file cabinets for the papers they need. However, transitioning to a paperless office can be a daunting task, especially if you have a large amount of paper to digitize. Document conversion software can be expensive, combined with the resources needed to train employees to scan the documents accurately. Many companies have no idea where to start; that’s where we come in.

We Can Help You Transition to a Paperless Office

If you’d rather not hassle with training and managing people to scan your files , we can scan all of your documents for you so you don’t have to. We offer onsite and offsite document and backfile scanning services that are completely HIPAA and CJIS compliant and available on a GSA schedule contract. The scanning services include many steps to ensure your project is done right so your transition from paper to digital documents is as smooth as possible.

  1. Cameras are set up in a secured room within your facility. Once the room is properly secured, we will receive and audit your record boxes. The files in each record box are audited and a barcode scanning sheet (to identify and track the files) is placed in the front of each file folder before documents are prepped for scanning.
  2. File boxes are sent to a document prepping station where we remove staples, paperclips, and fix dog-eared documents. We make certain we are following the guidelines you’ve set out for on how to handle and scan post-it notes, photos, and any other special documents. Once the files are properly prepped, they are ready to be scanned.
  3. As documents are being scanned, attendants ensure the images are clean and clear. The digital documents and compared to the originals to closely inspect and make sure that all standards are met. Documents that don’t meet standards are manually re-scanned.
  4. Once all paper is converted, they are outputted to a CD, DVD, or an online cloud repository.

Click on the image below for a more detailed view of our 10-step document scanning process.

Click to view our document digitization process

Click to view our document digitization process

Contact Us For Document Scanning Services

Southwest Solutions Group® can help with your company’s paperless office transition, whether it be is for document scanning services, paperless office technology and software, or paperless office management consultations. SSG will even scan a box of your records for free to ensure everything is done exactly to your specifications. To learn more or to speak with an information management specialist, call us at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message today.

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