There was something different about the crowd at ProMat 2023 in Chicago last month, and it wasn’t just that there were a lot more people — certainly impressive at over 50,000 — than we saw in other events since we came out of the pandemic. The difference I noticed was the number of people from the healthcare sector. And I think there’s good reason for that.
Healthcare was literally on the front lines in the last few years, and many challenges are ongoing even today. Labor shortages, for one, are highlighting the importance of alleviating unnecessary pressure on staff members. Supply chain leaders in healthcare, understanding the importance of their role, now recognize that we’re entering a new era where optimization, efficiency, resiliency and preparedness for “whatever might come next” is essential for both organizational success and patient outcomes.
But new eras, by their nature, introduce an element of risk and the healthcare sector is known to be risk-averse, for good reason. After all, each link of the supply chain can have an effect on patients. The good news is that healthcare leaders can observe, study and adapt processes and technologies other industries have used to optimize their supply chains. And with 82% of ProMat attendees expressing an interest in robotics and types of warehouse automation, it’s clear where supply chain technology is trending.
That’s why Tecsys offered industry-specific automation tours during ProMat to guide attendees through a cross-section of multiple types of warehouse automation technology available in today’s warehousing industry. It was my pleasure to lead our healthcare tours, making stops at the booths of innovators like Zebra/Fetch Robotics, AutoStore, SVT Robotics and Locus Robotics. With rapid advances in these technologies, healthcare providers can leverage new types of warehouse automation to reach their goals. Here’s a quick look at a couple of types of leading-edge warehouse automation technologies we saw in Chicago.
Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS)
ASRS are computer-controlled systems that automate the storage and retrieval of materials in a warehouse. These systems help maximize your storage while allowing for optimal picking. In a healthcare environment, the movement of medical supplies (surgical instruments and dressings), equipment (wheelchairs and infusion pumps), and medications can be done more efficiently and accurately by leveraging ASRS technology.
Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)
Unlike their predecessors, autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs), which rely on a track or predefined paths, AMRs are equipped with sophisticated sensors and use machine learning and artificial intelligence to independently interpret and navigate their way around your warehouse. In healthcare warehouses, AMRs can perform a variety of tasks, such as transporting inventory, picking and packing products, and even monitoring inventory levels.
At a time when staff resources are more scarce, using these robots could result in increased efficiency by reducing the time it takes to move supplies and equipment from one place to another, improve the accuracy of order fulfillment by eliminating human error, and improving workplace safety by automating the movement of heavy or hazardous items.
Want to Learn More?
If you weren’t at ProMat 2023, or you were there but missed out on our automation tours, it’s not too late to find out more about how different types of warehouse automation technologies can help you achieve the efficiency, resiliency and preparedness you need in your healthcare supply chain.