We and our partners have won the PCP procurement phase 2: “The development of new, innovative robotic solutions for sterile processing departments.” Through the next 2 years the solution we have worked on for the last six months will be developed and tested. The project will help to create a more efficient and safe health care system – and put Denmark on the world map of automated sterile processing departments.
The world’s eyes are currently directed at Denmark in the sterile processing department area. Being one of only two places in the world which are working intensively to develop and automate the core functions in sterile processing departments.
And it makes sense as the benefits appear to be huge: The majority of workflow in sterile processing departments today is manual, and it is a significant source of errors – especially with risk of contaminating instruments which can cause infections for patients and ultimately can lead to the loss of life. There might also be errors in the packaging of instruments with delays of ongoing operations and thus increased risk for the patient to follow.
At the same time the work is physically demanding with much lifting and repetitive tasks and that means a significant wear on the individual employee. Finally, the current methods of sterile processing departments are inherently labor intensive, making it costly – and there is a need for greater capacity, since the number of operations is steadily increasing.
In response to this challenge we have, since October last year, worked to design a solution that can ensure quality, improve the working environment and make sterile processing departments more efficient through automation. The work has resulted in the solution “The Intelligent Sterile Processing Department – Automation of Packing and Inspection” or short: DISAPI.
Until now developments in this area has focused on automating the transport flow in the sterile processing departments. DISAPI takes it up a nudge with a visionary and intelligent solution that automates the core function – packing and inspecting instruments.
The solution automates the majority of tasks currently carried out manually – in particular:
- All transport of instruments and other materials within the sterile processing department
- A large part of the inspection and maintenance tasks performed on every instrument, e.g. control of hygienics, lubrication and control of curvatures
- Packing and wrapping of instruments – including verification that instruments are not lost or mixed up
In addition, the solution ensures full traceability of the instruments throughout the sterile processing department.
The solution is based on a combination of known and proven technologies – including mini-AGVs to transport instruments around the sterile processing departments – and cutting edge technologies in RFID-based traceability, vision and robotics. These technologies have not previously been brought into play in sterile processing departments – and with good reason, since they previously haven’t reached a level of maturity that is necessary to make the vital inspection and control tasks performed on the instruments. In other words we make our way into uncharted territory.
DISAPI is created in collaboration with our three partners: LT Automation, Process Engineering and Granau IT; each of which has extensive expertise in robotics and automation technology, the design of and requirements for sterile processing departments and RFID technology.
The sterile processing department of the future
The vision for DISAPI is to create a fully automatic sterile processing department and the next two years will be a big step in that direction.
With DISAPI finished is means the end to lifting and carrying instruments, pushing and twisting carts. Employees can also say goodbye to many repetitive tasks, for they need no longer to count, control and inspect every one of the thousands of instruments that day passes through sterile processing departments.
This means that far more instruments can be processed – without the additional costs. Last but not least DISAPI increases patient safety: The fewer hands an instrument passes through, the lower the risk of errors that pose a risk to patients’ health.
That we look forward to!
Read more about the strategic partnership and the tender here.