ERS Medical replaced drivers’ dedicated scanners with Scandit-enabled smartphones and cut scanning time in half.
Couriers now complete critical medical deliveries significantly faster and hardware costs are nearly 90%lower versus using dedicated devices.
ERS Medical has upgraded patient security and item traceability – by swapping legacy PDA scanners for smartphones with computer vision. The scanner-in-an-app, which uses an everyday smartphone to recognise barcodes, is powered by Scandit and manages physical items within workflows flexibly and securely whilst delivering big cost savings.
The Goal: upgrade specialist, medical track-and-trace system
ERS Medical provides next-day and same-day specialist patient transportand courier services to the UK National Health Service (NHS) and the widerhealthcare sector. Dedicated healthcare couriers securely collect anddeliver items, including pathological specimens, biomedical equipment,sterile equipment, internal mail, and confidential medical records.
Reliable track-and-trace capability is a critical part of the service and, to achieve this, ERS Medical links its computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system with electronic data capture software. This means the delivery and collection of pathological specimens, many of which need to be deliveredwithin strict timeframes, are co-ordinated and meet customers’ standards.
In the past, traditional, dedicated scanners had been used by ERS Medical couriers to scan the barcodes on delivery items. But scanning was slow andcumbersome, and couriers were further inconvenienced because satnav couldn’t be accessed from the dedicated devices. Other drawbacks werethat the devices had limited barcode readability, couldn’t be integrated with the CAD software and were expensive to replace.
Starting Point – Improve timescales on route
Traditional PDA barcode scanners were being used by ERS Medical’s team of couriers to scan the barcodes on the path specimen bags. The speed with which they could achieve this task was determined by the scanning rate and this was proving too long, causing unnecessary delays on the delivery route. In addition, whilst the PDA’s could be mounted in the delivery vehicles, they didn’t allow satnav to be accessible from the same device, the company could not integrate its CAD software onto the devices, they were expensive to replace and only offered a limited range of barcode readability.
Vision – Lower costs and improve scanning ease of use
ERS Medical was keen to find a solution that would enable improved barcode scanning and integrate with its own software, but which would not be difficult for its drivers to learn or use. The company was aware that using mobile devices was an option and that this would provide it with the cameras it wanted to use. Switching to entry-level smartphones, despite the initial investment, would quickly represent a considerable saving and drive a lower TCO by eliminating the need to use dedicated scanning hardware.
The Solution: replace legacy hardware with enterprise-grade scanning smartphones
ERS Medical needed a fast, reliable barcode scanning solution thatwas simple for couriers to use and could be easily integrated with its existing software. After reviewing all options, they decided asmartphone solution with Scandit barcode scanning software bestanswered the brief. Plus, the smartphone’s built-in camera offered the prospect of new intelligence and security, making courierprocesses more robust.
Scandit’s experience in providing high-performance scanning to solve problems in other industry sectors was a big factor. Aside from the extra value afforded by linking physical items (via barcodes) to digital workflows, Scandit had a compelling cost proposition: switching to ubiquitous smartphones for barcode scanning would dramaticallycut hardware costs and total cost of ownership (TCO).
ERS Medical ran a pilot where drivers used a smartphone apppowered by Scandit software – in this case barcode scanning – to carry out courier tasks. The drivers took part in tests to evaluate thespeed and ease-of-use of the smartphone solution compared to dedicated scanners. ERS reported that the smartphone solution wassignificantly faster and easier to use in all delivery scenarios
Results: strengthened track-and-trace system and eight-fold cost saving in hardware
The pilot proved these benefits:
- Drivers scanned barcodes at least 50% faster with the Scanditpowered app on their smartphones. Faster scanning let driverscomplete their pick-up-and-drop-off schedule more quickly.
- The scanning functionality was robust enough to let ERS Medicaluse much smaller barcodes on their pathological specimen bags.Scandit software scans multiple bags rapidly even with the smaller codes, improving overall efficiency.
- Drivers found it is easy to move from Google Maps to thescanning app on their smartphones, saving more time in thedelivery process.Following the successful pilot, ERS Medical used Scandit’s softwaredeveloper kit (SDK) to integrate with the CAD platform anddistributed the smartphone app to its couriers.
“We are charged with the safe transportation of important, and often time-critical pathology specimens and it is important that we can account for their safe pick up and despatch at every stage. By making use of the speed and accuracy of the Scandit Barcode Scanner app on smartphones, our drivers can do their jobs more efficiently and more easily, and we can monitor every part of this process to ensure it provides 100% customer satisfaction.” Gary Brown, Courier Operations Manager at ERS Medical.