A New Pharmacy Design to Enhance Efficiency, Occupational Safety and Health

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Abstract Summary
Abstract ID :
HAC628
Submission Type
HA Staff
Authors (including presenting author) :
HOR CK (1), Chen J (1)*, Chan WS (1), Lau CK (1), Lam YY (1), MAK CK (1), MAK LKK(1)
Affiliation :
(1)Pharmacy, Tseung Kwan O Hospital * Working in another HA hospital since Dec 18
Introduction :
Since the implementation of Express Dispensing System in 1998, automatic conveyor belt has been the core element for supporting high-volume dispensing. It consists of a conveyor belt located at the center of drug shelves. The width of alley between belt and shelves are 3-4ft, just sufficient for standing one dispensing staff. They pick medication from shelves, ranging from small plastic pack to heavy bulky bottle, turn around, place them onto the belt and then delivered to a single collection point for assembling. The system has reached its limits in coping with increasing workload and is not free from drawbacks, namely, a) staff often sprain their back or arms during repetitive turn-around movement, b) high traffic of staff in the alley increase chance of striking injury, c) staff have to travel a lot to pick the medications, d) space utilization of “shelves-staff-belt” setting is not optimized, e) open-belt design inevitably increases risk of finger trapping at two ends and along the fast-moving conveyor belt.
Objectives :
To improve manual handling, machinery and occupational safety, and enhance handling capacity and overall efficiency of dispensing system.
Methodology :
The new dispensing system consists of two 12-meter-long conveyor belts with mobile (MetroMax Q® Shelving) and stationary drug shelves (StockFlow®) at strategic location, embedding the whole conveyor belt. Extra picking stations were deployed and workflow were streamlined. The staff simply pick drugs and place them onto the belt through shelves’ open compartment via the bench top without moving much. As both sides of the belts were guards with shelves, finger trapping is virtually impossible. Moreover, an extra assembly points operates to solve the bottleneck problem.
Result & Outcome :
The whole dispensing area was redesigned and the capacity of StockFlow® shelves were increased from 40 to 60 units (~810mm width/units), with extra 9 MetroMax Q® shelves (~890 mm width/shelves) and 3 medical-grade refrigerators. It is envisaged that this novel design will further enhance the system to cope with rising workload and service demand, while improving OSH of the employees. The Department of Pharmacy was awarded KEC OSH Improvement Projects Gold Award and KEC OSH Best Team Bronze Award in 2018.
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