GE improves material flow with self-driving vehicles

GE improves material flow with automatic guided vehicles in the GE Healthcare 280,000-square-foot facility

  By ·

Over the years, multiple U.S.-based medical equipment repair operations have consolidated into GE Healthcare’s 280,000-square-foot facility in Milwaukee, Wis. The facility consistently upholds lean manufacturing principles to achieve its primary mission to provide customers with reliable, consistent and timely repairs. As a result, hospitals can restore their operations quickly and focus on providing the best patient care possible. With this objective in mind, efficiency is at the core of all operations.

In previous repair centers, technicians pushed carts to move equipment between repair cells, shipping and other technicians. This manual process worked in batches, making material flow inefficient. Finished repairs would be added to other equipment on the nearest cart, which was pushed around to pick up other finished repairs prior to shipping. The time in which finished repairs reached shipping was dependent on which other types of equipment were already being repaired, leading to delays.

Additionally, other facilities suffered from wasted floor space due to the need for bulky carts and fixed infrastructure. This reduction of productive floor space decreased the number of repair cells and limited throughput.

“We needed to find an on-demand solution for moving materials throughout the facility,” says Patricio Espinosa, director of Americas Repair Operations for GE Healthcare. “[This] is a perfect solution because it gets materials where they need to be—when they need to be there.”

By implementing a self-driving vehicle, the repair center was able to improve its material flow and find new efficiencies in the repair process. Instead of batching parts to travel in a variety of directions, the automated solution enables pull-type supply chain management.

Repairs are now finished quickly, despite short lead times, because the automated material movement is based on actual demand. Rather than encumbering throughput by batching all material movement (regardless of priority), the self-driving vehicle delivers repairs to their destinations in an optimized workflow. When a technician has finished repairing a part, he/she will call a self-driving vehicle. Then, the vehicle will bring a new part that needs to be repaired and transport the finished part to shipping.

The company’s self-driving vehicles (and software) are now used to deliver parts for more than 2,000 medical equipment repairs each week.

In addition, the Milwaukee center’s repair cells are 40% smaller since implementing the vehicles, mainly because there’s no need for extra physical infrastructure or large material movement equipment. As a result, GE has raised its throughput per square foot, as productive floor space has increased by 66%.

OTTO Motors
(844) 733-6886


More OTTO Motors


Related Topics

Automatic Guided Vehicles   Carts   Casebook   OTTO Motors   All topics



Related Video
Latest products
3/8” Super Air Wipe
Super Air Wipe dries, cools & cleans small diameters.

Momentum Warehouse Execution System
Momentum™ warehouse execution system (WES) by Honeywell Intelligrated is a feature-rich software platform built to address the escalating…

Customizable ergonomic workbenches
Customize workbench for optimized use.

Model 10HT-4W four-wheel hand truck
Handle rimmed drums with ergonomic hand truck.

This Week in Materials Handling

MHPN - Materials Handling 24/7 - Readers’ Choice Products of the Year 2018 winners announced
Nearly 3,000 readers voted in 12 categories for the best innovations in materials handling equipment to help you decide the best products for you warehouse and distribution center operations.

Innovation


Featured Products

Subscribe to MHPN Magazine Today

Material Handling Product News is the market’s only executive format publication reporting on the entire range of material handling products — from the loading dock, to the manufacturing process, to storage and distribution. Don’t miss a single product, claim your free subscription today.