Northwestern Memorial Hospital: Smoothing Material Flow through the Receiving Area
In 2016, the supply chain manager at Northwestern Memorial Hospital recognized that many problems occurring throughout the hospital originated at the hospital receiving area. Some problems had reached epic proportions: overstocking at par locations, stocking at temporary locations, misplaced items, expired items, and inaccurate inventory records. Most of the problems could be traced to the receiving area's procedures and average three-day dock-to-stock lead time. A value-stream mapping kaizen event revealed that a big contributor to the long lead time was the receiving area's reliance on batch-oriented processing. The supply chain manager recognized the severity of the situation and urgent need to do something to improve operations in the receiving area and shorten the lead time from package arrival to final delivery. He felt that reducing the lead time from three days to one day would reduce or eliminate many of the problems, and it seemed a reachable goal. The supply chain manager intended to approach this challenge using the lean production practices he had successfully employed elsewhere. John Nicholas is affiliated with Loyola University of Chicago. Hussam Bachour is affiliated with Loyola University of Chicago. Paul Suett is affiliated with Loyola University of Chicago.