Automated and intelligent garment management systems bring numerous managerial and operational advantages to hospital facilities, promoting compliance with hygiene regulations, cost control, and reduction of inefficiency-related costs. Managing hospital uniforms is a critical aspect to consider when aiming to ensure well-being and comfort for hospital personnel. Nurses and doctors spend many hours each day in uniforms, so it is essential to ensure the availability of garments, comfort, and hygiene for all types of work attire, making daily activities easier and more convenient.

Proper textile procurement is one of the many factors that can impact job quality, and attention should be paid to this aspect accordingly. Efficient, intelligent, and prudent textile management allows for quick uniform changes at the beginning of a shift or after an operation, easy access to uniforms in emergency situations, even in the middle of the night, the ability to wear comfortable sets in one’s size. Let’s delve deeper into these aspects and discover how intelligent management can optimize the supply, distribution, and management of uniforms, improving the daily lives of hospital staff.

Safety and Hygiene of Work Garments for Healthcare Workers

The first factor to consider is undoubtedly the safety and hygiene of work garments. Hospital uniforms play a critical role in preventing cross-infections, i.e., infectious diseases transmitted through direct contact with contaminated substances or professional tools. Adequate uniform management ensures that uniforms are properly sanitized and sterilized, reducing the risk of pathogen transmission from one patient to another or to healthcare personnel. It is important to maintain uniforms in optimal hygienic condition with minimal handling to ensure personnel and, indirectly, patient safety.

Automatic uniform distribution systems, regulated by intelligent devices and programmed based on actual personnel needs, offer many advantages in this regard. Uniforms are stored in closed cabinets accessible only through personal identification of hospital staff, ensuring safe storage, reduced handling, and protection from external bacterial agents.

Comfortable and High-Quality Uniforms for Professional Work

Uniforms, in every sector, symbolize the professional identity of the wearer. Particularly in healthcare systems worldwide, doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers are recognized based on what they wear. Careful management of hospital uniforms ensures proper supply and availability of work attire, allowing staff to always present themselves neatly and professionally, in respect of their work and the patients they care for.

Well-groomed staff, regarding their work attire, is positively perceived by patients, who place greater trust in those who assist them. Offering a professional image of cleanliness and comfort enhances patient expectations, recognizing hygiene care as their primary need.

Uniform Handling and Distribution: a Problem Affecting Wear and Hygiene Standards

Uniforms for hospital personnel (especially nurses and paramedical staff) are often subject to wear and tear due to frequent movements, daily changes, interactions with chemicals, and industrial washings. This can lead to tears and difficult-to-remove stains

Manual distribution of uniforms – which usually occurs in hospital wardrobes – is another factor that can affect hygiene standards. Manual handling on the shelves or the collection of dirty items through uncontrolled systems do not guarantee the hygiene standard typically required in a hospital.

Conversely, the introduction of an automated uniform distribution system in the hospital, regulated through well-protected collection devices with intelligent and personalized access (which can be opened and closed with personal cards or codes), offers multiple benefits that can address the mentioned issues. Immediate benefits include:

  • Reduced overall uniform handling
  • Improved hygiene standards for each individual garment
  • Reduced warehouse confusion with no uniform loss or disorder in sizes and types
  • Direct digital communication with the wardrobe (using a personal card to retrieve or store uniforms) to forward personal requests or check availability and sizes.

These advantages are further enhanced by advanced textile recognition, control, and management technologies, such as the use of “smart tags” applied to garments with electronic markers transmitting identification data via radio frequency (RFID). The combination of

1) automated distribution systems with intelligent access and interaction, regulated through digital cards, codes, or other forms of personal identification;

2) intelligent labeling that communicates via RFID information about in-use or recently retrieved garments;

3) advanced reading technologies that capture data on garments used and their daily usage by personnel, makes it possible to implement next-generation logistics processes capable of improving and optimizing the circulation of work garments.

For those employing these new technologies, the first garments loaded into distribution machines are also the first to be offered to staff making requests. This logic (referred to as FIFO, or First In First Out) allows for:

-Properly balancing the circulating uniform pool, preventing some from being used more frequently than others 

-Achieving equal distribution of usage and industrial washings and, therefore, effective prevention of premature fabric wear and tear.

Difficulty in procurement leads to inefficiencies, management complexities, and waste

The transition from manual to automated management also impacts operational aspects.

Lack of clean uniforms or inadequate uniform management can cause daily operational issues such as time loss, discretionary use of clothing, and unauthorized uniform exchanges.

Having a system that guarantees access to a well-preserved, ironed, and easily accessible uniform of the right size at any time of the day means providing an efficient system that saves time, avoids confusion, and reduces waste.

Controlling distribution also helps to avoid uniform losses and enables the verification of usage times and correct allocation of sizes and models.

Controlled uniform distribution aids in management and inventory control.

Those who can control their circulating uniform stock do not risk unnecessarily increasing warehouse stock because they can better plan requirements by anticipating individual or shift-related requests. Implementing an automated uniform distribution system in a hospital also means:

  • Ensuring 24×7 distribution
  • Organizing decentralized distribution points, allowing healthcare staff to find their uniforms directly in their departments or at a closer point
  • Effectively managing warehouse inventory, perfectly controlling inflow and outflow from the laundry.

Meeting the actual needs of staff by loading dispensers with sizes that are genuinely used by healthcare personnel, thanks to software that studies user behaviors and suggests to the wardrobe staff the best mix of uniform types and sizes to make available.

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