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5 Storage Challenges and Solutions for the Healthcare Industry

The modern healthcare industry develops at a faster pace than ever. As expected, this comes with new challenges and institutions are heavily relying on technology to quickly adapt to changes in the environment.

One of the main components that ensures a good deliverability of health products and services is having the right storage solution implemented. Here are the main 5 storage aspects that need to be addressed:

  1. Sterile environment
  2. Security & Safety
  3. Save Space
  4. Stocking a wide range of products
  5. Temperature requirements

The healthcare industry requires storage systems for everything from the archiving of patient records and X-rays to the preservation of medicines, textiles and instruments. Each healthcare organization has different needs, and this often result in a demand for custom made storage solutions.

heathcare storage

1. Sterile environment

Preventing bacterial contamination is one of the main focuses in many industries, including healthcare, food & drinks, cosmetics and so on. A solution to this would be finishing fixed and mobile shelving with a special antimicrobial powder coating*. This would create ideal surfaces for the storage of objects that need to be protected against bacteria such as E-coli, MRSA and Listeria. However, keep in mind that the antimicrobial powder coating provides extra protection, but it is not a substitute for proper cleaning procedures.

   

2. Security & Safety

Within the pharmaceutical industry there is no room for error, as the consequences can be fatal. Therefore, if you are developing, manufacturing, or distributing and selling pharmaceutical products, a storage machine may be the right choice. This would allow you to achieve a high level of security, securely automate storage within a single unit and educe picking errors by up to 60%. It would also eliminate the need for shelving, whilst creating additional storage room within often-limited space. This computer-controlled solution not only that improves the efficiency of your storage and picking process, but it is also highly customisable for specific operating environments.

heathcare storage

   

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heathcare storage

3. Save Space

In some cases, when it comes to healthcare, every square metre used for storage can mean a square meter that could have been used for patient care or for a piece of equipment that saves lives. For that reason, it makes sense to implement a storage solution that makes the best out of the storage space available to you. Depending on the products you are storing and the access you need, there is a variety of options available. Small items may be better organised within a storage machine or mobile shelves, while larger items can work better on a mobile pallet rack or a pull-out unit. Also, if access to the stored item is required by LIFO/FIFO principle, a Pallet Shuttle System may be the ideal solution. Keep in mind that you can optimise your storage capacity horizontally but also vertically.

 
   

4. Stocking a wide range of products

What do you want to store? That is the question. In some cases, we are not storing similar items, but a wide variety of products that require a special set-up. In this case we need to go for a combination of products that would allow us to, not only get the best out of the available space, but also ensure the systems we install meet current health and safety regulations. There are numerous decisions that need to be made, especially in the healthcare industry, where we may be dealing with products that require special storage conditions and or can become a hazard if not stored correctly. However, while you will need to use a specialist to plan for this, usually standard pallet racking and shelving would fulfil any special storage condition requirements. This is a starting point, but from here you can plan for the next step semi-automation or even full warehouse automation.

heathcare storage

 
   
heathcare storage

5. Temperature requirements

There are situations when specific environmental temperatures need to be maintained, in order to preserve the product quality. We are generally referring to this as cold and frozen goods storage. Most of the time we only need chilled / cold storage, with temperatures above 0C. If that is the case, most of the standard storage solutions would be an all right choice. But only from an environment required temperature; of course, you will need to consider the overall storage needs, before making a decision.

The real challenge is when we need to store products at much lower temperatures. In these cases, the energy costs are considerably higher to regular storage. Therefore, reducing the space needed to accommodate the same number of products would make perfect sense.

When we store large items and we need full access to all of them, the Mobile Pallet Racking may be a great choice. It operates perfectly at temperatures as low as -30C and it increases storage capacity by 80%.

Another option for palletized goods, recommended for either First in, First out (FIFO) or Last in, First out (LIFO) is the Pallet Shuttle System that also provides high density storage at temperatures that can go down down to -30C while reducing operating costs. Pallet Shuttle System is one of the most efficient bulk storage solutions on the market.

Healthcare can be indeed more demanding than other industries in regard to storage requirements. If you are facing any other challenges that we have not mentioned here or if you have any questions, please have a chat with one of our experts and we are confident that we can help you identify the right solution for you.

Article first published dexion.com 6th April 2020

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