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Automation in Healthcare Internal Logistics: A Case Study on Practice and Potential
Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation. (IPR)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6062-2173
Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation. (IPR)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7935-8811
2013 (English)In: International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management (IJITM), ISSN 0219-8770, Vol. 10, no 2Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The current demographic development puts even greater demands on the healthcare sector which already struggle with scarce resources and constant pressure of cost reductions. This paper aims at through a multiple case study describe how automation of hospital internal logistics can be a tool in improving the efficiency. The results include several potential implementations for patient transports, waste handling and small goods transports. However, organizational issues as lack of ownership and a strategic view render difficulties and needs to be dealt with. The authors conclude that transfer of knowledge and technology used in manufacturing industry would be beneficial. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 10, no 2
Keyword [en]
Automation, internal logistics, healthcare, case study
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy
Research subject
Innovation and Design
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-12245DOI: 10.1142/S0219877013400129Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84899851982OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-12245DiVA: diva2:416449
Projects
Lean AutomationXPRESLEAD - Lean Automation Development
Funder
XPRES - Initiative for excellence in production research
Available from: 2011-05-11 Created: 2011-05-11 Last updated: 2015-11-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Competitive Internal Logistics Systems through Automation
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Competitive Internal Logistics Systems through Automation
2011 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The growing demand for products and services puts great pressure on logistics performance and enhances the role that logistics plays in determining a company’s competitiveness.

This research focuses on internal logistics systems, which includes all logistics activities and processes within the physical limits of an isolated company. Internal logistics is vital for the overall function of many companies. However, despite its importance, this part of logistics has traditionally not been viewed or developed in a strategic way. Since internal logistics activities are often characterized by a high degree of manual handling and hence strongly affect the cost of operations, there is a large incentive for improvements in this area.  

One possible way to improve an internal logistics system is with the help of automation. In many areas, automation is a well-known means to increase productivity and cut costs, thus improving competitiveness. However, automation is not commonly used within internal logistics activities, and there is a lack of knowledge and research within this new application area. The main objective of this research, therefore, is to contribute to an increased understanding of how automation can be used to develop competitive internal logistics systems.

Four empirical studies have been performed to investigate how companies perceive and work with their internal logistics systems, specifically in terms of improvements using automation. The empirical studies also aimed at identifying and describing how the studied companies could benefit from automation within internal logistics activities.

From the studies, the importance of assessing and being aware of the current state of logistics performance was discovered as a basic requirement that needs to be fulfilled before conducting improvement work. Further, one of the main overall conclusions from this research is the need for a logistics strategy that includes goals and plans for the operation and development of an internal logistics system. As a result of the research, a structure and procedure for the development of a logistics strategy and a framework for conducting an improvement process in internal logistics using automation were developed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Västerås: Mälardalen University, 2011
Series
Mälardalen University Press Licentiate Theses, ISSN 1651-9256 ; 137
Keyword
Internal logistics, logistics systems, automation, performance
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Innovation and Design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-12246 (URN)978-91-7485-017-8 (ISBN)
Presentation
2011-06-17, Raspen, Smedjegatan 37, Eskilstuna, 10:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Lean Automation
Funder
XPRES - Initiative for excellence in production research
Available from: 2011-05-16 Created: 2011-05-11 Last updated: 2013-12-06Bibliographically approved
2. Facilitating Automation Development in Internal Logistics Systems
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Facilitating Automation Development in Internal Logistics Systems
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The internal logistics system includes all activities connected with managing the flow of materials within the physical limits of a facility. This system is an important part of operations in need of increased focus and continuous improvements. Automation is one possible tool with a previously confirmed great potential to improve internal logistics. Despite this great potential and a growing trend of using automation in the area, internal logistics activities are still not automated to the same extent as other parts of operations. The overall aim of this research is therefore to develop knowledge that supports the successful use of automation in internal logistics systems.

The automation development process has been identified as critical for the success of the use of automation. With the overall aim of the research in mind, the objective of this thesis is to develop a framework facilitating the automation development process in internal logistics systems. To help fulfil the objective, empirical data have been collected through five case studies and a survey study. During the empirical studies, the process of improving the internal logistics system and the automation development process have been analysed and the focus has been on identifying challenges and facilitators for the successful use and development of automation in internal logistics systems.

The findings indicate a poor awareness of both current and desired performance of the internal logistics system at the companies studied. In addition, automation development is often conducted in an unstructured and poorly supported manner and there is often insecurity regarding what steps and actions to take. Foremost, the findings indicate a poor base for proper evaluation and decisions during automation development in internal logistics systems. This is analysed and concluded as a cause of unclear goals and requirements and the lack of a strategic view with regard to both internal logistics operations and the use and development of automation.

A framework, including proposed guidelines to overcome the observed challenges by including identified factors facilitating successful automation development in internal logistics systems has been developed. The core of the framework is a proposed process model for automation development in an internal logistics context. Due to the identified importance and the lack of a strategy linked to and supporting the automation development process, the framework also includes a proposed model for an internal logistics strategy as well as a proposed model for an automation strategy. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Västerås: Mälardalen University, 2014. 124 p.
Series
Mälardalen University Press Dissertations, ISSN 1651-4238 ; 150
Keyword
automation development, internal logistics, automation, systems development
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Research subject
Innovation and Design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-23685 (URN)978-91-7485-130-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-02-13, Raspen, Smedjegatan 37, Eskilstuna, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
LEAD - Lean Automation Development
Funder
XPRES - Initiative for excellence in production researchVINNOVA
Available from: 2013-12-17 Created: 2013-12-17 Last updated: 2015-02-05Bibliographically approved

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