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Drying system enhances Health & Safety and promotes efficiency for NHS

21 September 2011

At its 130,000ft2 depot at Bridgwater, NHS Supply Chain stores, stock controls, and picks products for distribution around the South West region to hospitals and health centres. This mammoth task involves handling around 540,000 tote boxes a year. Helping to achieve this effectively and, in the process, eliminate a Health and Safety issue, is a drying system from ACI.

An essential part of performing this service is ensuring that the tote boxes are cleaned on their return before being reintroduced into the order picking operation. Helping to achieve this effectively and, in the process eliminate a Health and Safety issue, is a specially configured drying system from Air Control Industries of Axminster.

To fulfil the cleaning requirement, NHS Supply Chain has installed a purpose-built washing and drying line. This installation is effective for cleaning the tote boxes but the drying leaves residual water in difficult to access moisture traps in the angular moulded outer rims and handles.

Benefits resulting directly from the enhanced drying provided by the ACI installation are the time saved by eliminating manual final drying, reduced use of paper towels and the prevention of damage/contamination of the medical supplies shipped in the tote boxes.

In addition any potential Health and Safety implications from residual water dripping onto the warehouse floor are eliminated. Remembering that the depot handles 540,000 units a year for delivering products to NHS hospitals and health centres these operational improvements have helped improve productivity leading to financial savings.

Before specifying the ACI system, NHS Supply Chain had the benefit of being able to verify the performance of the ACI solution with a working line demonstration set up to replicate the actual product drying process.

“We are really pleased with the ACI drying system,” said Robert Thyer, Facilities Engineer at Bridgwater.

"It has remedied our Health and Safety issues by ensuring effective drying whilst at the same time improving operation efficiencies. Also, the fact ACI could demonstrate the system’s ‘fit for purpose’ capabilities before installation was a major confidence booster before placing the order. The advice and support we have had throughout has been first class.”

The ACI solution installed to overcome these issues is a blower-based system comprising airknives, adjustable nozzles and flexible nozzles complete with all the required ducting. This configuration permits air to be delivered close to the tote boxes, even into awkward angular recesses and moisture retaining scratches, to ensure maximum drying efficiency.

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