2 Ways to Set Up a Kanban System for Managing Medical Products

setting up a Kanban system for managing medical productsIn our last blog, we talked about the reasons you should use Kanban to manage medical products in your healthcare facility. Now, we are going to talk about 2 different ways you can set up a Kanban system.

Setting up a Kanban system is actually very easy. Most of the work is collecting the usage data to decide the right levels of inventory you need for each medical product. The other part of setting up the Kanban system is deciding what kind of “trigger” to use to alert material managers that supplies need to be replenished.

Small Applications: Barcode System and Empty Bins

One option is to use a barcode system in combination with placing the empty bins on the top of your storage shelving (find the supplies you need to get started from StoreMoreStore). The materials manager can come in and use a barcode reader to scan each of the empty bins and record the data for which supplies need to be re-stocked.

This system works well in smaller healthcare facilities or if you are only going to implement Kanban in one or two supply rooms. But if you want to implement it in a large facility or multiple supply rooms, it’s not the best option because material managers are still spending too much time counting. In addition, all the empty bins from fast moving supplies can become cumbersome and create errors in replenishment.

Larger Applications: Use RFID Technology to Automate the “Trigger” ProcessUse the RFID digital restocking tag for Kanban

The second option is to automate the “trigger” process with RFID technology. This Kanban system is equipped with an RFID digital restocking tag.

Once the items in the primary bin are used, a nurse clicks the button on the restocking tag. While the nurses are waiting for supplies to be restocked, nurses pull items from the secondary bin. A notification is automatically sent to the materials managers with all the information relating to the products that need to be restocked (i.e. quantity and location).

Essentially, the RFID technology replaces steps in the counting process, saving valuable time while real-time information improves accuracy.

Are You Ready to Take the Next Step?

Now that you know why you should use Kanban and the different ways to set up the system in your healthcare facility, are you ready to take the next step? If so, give us a call at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message. We can provide you with both the RFID digital restocking tags and the storage systems you’ll need.


6 Reasons to Use Kanban for Managing Medical Products

Kanban used in material handling is now used in healthcare facilitiesThe concept of Kanban (Japanese for visual sign or card) originally came from supermarkets. In the late 1940s, Toyota studied the supermarkets and adapted the same Kanban principles for their production facilities. Ever since then, Kanban has been used as part of LEAN processes in manufacturing facilities throughout the world.

How the Kanban System Works

Here’s a quick definition of how Kanban works:

Kanban aligns inventory levels with actual consumption; a signal is sent to produce and/or deliver a new shipment when material is consumed. These signals are tracked through the replenishment cycle, bringing visibility to the supplier, the consumer and the buyer.

Bringing Kanban from Material Handling to Healthcare

What’s happening now is that Kanban is not only being used in material handling…it’s being used in healthcare facilities. But why? It’s simple really – managing materials is just like managing medical products.

In both instances, you supply exactly what’s needed, when it’s needed, and in the amount needed. For manufacturing and material handling this refers to parts; whereas, for healthcare this refers to medical supplies and products.

Why You Should Use Kanban for Managing Medical Products

If you’re healthcare facility is still using a PAR system to manage medical products, here are some reasons you should switch to Kanban.

1. No Daily Counting Saves Labor Costs

Using a fixed quantity and a dedicated location (ex. bins) eliminates the need for daily counting. Once the bin is emptied the same quantity is replenished. No counting saves on labor costs because staff can be more productive in other areas.

2. Reduces Re-Supply Trips

Each bin only needs to be replenished when it runs out. By filling the bins with enough supplies for a whole day, you can reduce the number of re-supply trips.

3. Medical Products are Always On-Hand

Because Kanban uses a two-bin system for stocking supplies, there are always going to be medical products on-hand. Nurses will no longer have to deal with stock-outs that cause them to make special requests to materials management or grabs supplies from a different room.

4. First-In, First-Out Reduces Expired Medical Products

Kanban promotes the first-in, first-out system, in effect, rotating medical products so that no item is left on the shelf too long. Not only does this save time, it reduces the costs associated with expired medical products.

5. Shows Patterns & Adjusts to Changes

Over time, the Kanban system will show patterns such as which medical products are used most often. This allows you to better manage your stock levels. Quantities can be easily refined and adjusted based on their usage patterns.

6. Promotes Good Inventory Management

Most PAR level inventory management is actually done by eyeballing the quantity of items needed; counting is almost impossible and very labor intensive. With Kanban, you automate this process to promote better inventory management and take out any guess work.

How to Set Up a Kanban System in Your Healthcare Facility

Once you’ve decided to switch to Kanban system, the next step is getting set up. Come back later this week, to read about 2 different ways you can set up a Kanban system. UPDATE! You can find the second part of this series on Kanban here.

Until then, if you have any questions about Kanban or want to learn more, give us a call at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message.


The Versatility of High Density Mobile Shelving

Storage is at the heart of what we do, and we couldn’t do it without high density mobile shelving. So as this type of shelving becomes more mainstream, it’s interesting to see where and how it’s being used. Because the truth is, you can use high density mobile shelving anywhere – it really is that versatile. As proof, here are some pictures of high density mobile shelving systems we have installed for various types of applications.

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To find out more about where you can use high density mobile shelving at your workplace, give us a call or send us a message.



Chemical Supplier Chooses Modular Casework for Petroleum Testing Lab

Built-in Millwork Versus Modular CaseworkA specialty chemical supplier acquired a new space in Houston, TX for their petroleum testing lab. Aside from a sink, there was nothing in the space. This gave the company an opportunity to design the lab exactly how they wanted it. But first they needed to decide what type of furniture to use – built-in millwork or modular casework?

Difference Between Built-In Millwork and Modular Casework

Built-in millwork is exactly what it sounds like: furniture that is constructed on-site and built into the space. Once the project is complete, there’s no more changing your mind or re-arranging anything without tearing the furniture down and throwing it away.

Modular casework, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. It’s built off-site at a manufacturing facility and arrives ready to be installed. The casework is just like built-in millwork, except for one major difference: it can be moved, relocated, rearranged and changed any time you want.

Southwest Solutions Group Designs and Installs the Modular Casework

After learning about their options, the chemical company chose modular casework for their petroleum testing lab. To design and install the casework, the company reached out to Southwest Solutions Group. Randy Brant, Southwest Solutions Group’s Vice President located in the Houston office, worked with the rest of the team to design the modular casework for the petroleum lab (see the plan drawing below).

Plan Drawing of Modular Casework in Petroleum Testing Lab

The modular casework was specified as powder coated steel with marine edged epoxy resin tops, and includesFinished Modular Casework Installed in Chemical Suppliers Testing Laboratory

  • sink-faucet/eye-wash shower
  • fume hood
  • upper and lower cabinets at specified heights
  • work island with cabinets/drawers
  • pop up power evenly spaced for equipment
  • chemical cabinet
  • custom mobile table to fit inside the fume hood
  • flammable cabinet

Once the design was worked out, the modular casework was ordered and installed into the company’s lab.


After the project was complete, the chemical company stated, “We are very pleased with the modular casework in this new petroleum testing lab. In fact, we have a similar lab elsewhere, but we like the furniture and cabinets in this one much better.”

Visit our Laboratory Modular Casework Page and Learn More


Digitize Old Patient Records to Fill the Gap in Your EHR or EMR System

Digitizing Old Patient Records for EHR or EMR SystemsElectronic or digital records are all the rage these days. Everyone either wants to go digital or is being forced to go digital. One industry that stands out in the talk about digital records is the healthcare industry. Electronic health records (EHR) or electronic medical records (EMR) have been around for years, but they’re only recently being used – doctors and nurses are using computers during exams; patients are filling out forms on iPads; and prescriptions are delivered directly to the pharmacy.

The Numerous Benefits to Using EHR or EMR Systems

The benefits to using EHR or EMR are numerous. According to HealthIT.gov using electronic records gives healthcare providers,

  • Accurate and complete information about a patient’s health. This enables providers to give the best possible care, whether during a routine office visit or in a medical emergency, by providing the information they need to evaluate a patient’s current condition in the context of the patient’s health history and other treatments.
  • The ability to quickly provide care. In a crisis, EHRs provide instant access to information about a patient’s medical history, allergies, and medications. This can enable providers to make decisions sooner, instead of waiting for information from test results.
  • The ability to better coordinate the care they give. This is especially important if a patient has a serious or chronic medical condition, such as diabetes.
  • A way to share information with patients and their family caregivers. This means patients and their families can more fully take part in decisions about their health care.

But before you stop reading and jump head first into using an EHR or EMR system, there’s one additional thing to consider – old/existing patient health records.

Why Old Patient Records Need to Be Digitized

Having a complete patient history available is invaluable to treating your patients. And without digitizing your old or existing patient health records, you will lose out on many of the benefits of an EHR or EMR system. So what can you do?

The Wrong Strategy for Scanning Exiting Patient Records

One strategy many healthcare providers are using is to hire one or two people whose only job function is to manually scan the information into the EHR or EMR system. The downside is that it can take years before every patient’s records are scanned into the system. While you’re waiting for this to be complete, everyone is frustrated because who knows which patients records are digital and which ones aren’t. Efficiency and productivity suffer, which means patient satisfaction suffers. And the amount of money you spend hiring people might not make it worth it. There has to be a better option.

The Better Option for Your Patient Record Scanning Project

Outsourcing. You might have some negative thoughts about outsourcing this type of project, but with us here at Southwest Solutions Group it will be a much better solution than scanning the patient records yourself. If you’re still not convinced, here are some reasons letting us handle your scanning project is a better option for your healthcare facility:

  • Our services are completely HIPAA compliant.
  • We can quickly scan millions of medical records that will promptly be available for your staff to use.
  • We work on your schedule and within your specified budget so that you are in control.
  • With our services, you can free up space that was previously used to store paper records and put it to better use.
  • Because we know what we are doing and provide all the equipment, you don’t have to rely on untrained new hires or purchase expensive equipment.
  • We will provide storage for your paper records at our facility or come to your site at no extra cost to you.

Try Our Document Scanning Services for Free for Existing and Old Patient Records

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