HORIBA Medical and Path Links publish LEAN white paper

22 June 2011

HORIBA Medical, in collaboration with its customers Mick Chomyn and Martin Fottles from Path Links Pathology Service, has published a white paper on the application of LEAN principles to Healthcare entitled “TLA – the ‘LEAN’ Alternative”. Focusing on the elimination of waste, LEAN principles offer a variety of tools and techniques to achieve this aim. The white paper focuses on the practical application of these principles based on the experiences of this large UK hospital laboratory group.

A fundamental goal of LEAN is to achieve a continuous flow of work through an optimised process. Batch processing is inherently inefficient, causing delays and bottlenecks. Simply by applying LEAN to enhance work flow, Path Links has achieved dramatic improvements to productivity and quality. Drawing on these experiences, the white paper provides a practical approach to LEAN implementation and offers valuable insight into the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of applying LEAN theory and practice to the clinical laboratory workplace. 

Amongst many other process re-designs, Path Links has implemented a LEAN Work Cell concept within its Blood Science Laboratories as an alternative approach to deploying a Total Laboratory Automation (TLA) solution utilising highly automated ‘tracked’ systems. Based on proven manufacturing production design, the Path Links LEAN Work Cell brings together all major laboratory analysers, including ABX Pentra DX 120 haematology analysers, in a U-shaped configuration. Whilst providing most (if not all) of the benefits of a TLA solution, the LEAN Work Cell provides additional advantages. These include greater flexibility, significant reduction in space requirements and avoidance of the large investment and ongoing maintenance needs of a tracked system.

Within the white paper it is recognised that the strength of a LEAN approach is to fully understand and optimise work processes and use this knowledge to guide the correct choice of equipment. In other words, to make the equipment fit the process rather than fitting a process around the equipment. LEAN processes aim for right-sized equipment which is usually smaller, less complex, more flexible and less expensive than highly automated systems.

The white paper “TLA – The ‘LEAN’ Alternative” is available for download at http://www.horiba.com/uk/medical/feedback/tla-the-lean-alternative-white-paper/