How do you create a bar code label that can stand up to industrial washings at 300 degrees Fahrenheit on a repeated basis? This solution for a medical equipment rental company did exactly that.
End-User: Franciscan Health Support Services, LLC
Application: Medical Equipment Rental
Product Solution: Zebra GK420
Solution Provider: L-Tron Corporation
An affiliate of St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center, Franciscan Health Support is a New York state licensed home care agency, respiratory care provider and medical equipment provider of wheelchairs, bathroom safety solutions, home care beds, patient lifts and walking aids as well as other healthcare products for the home. Additionally, Franciscan provides newborn and pediatric services and respiratory care such as oxygen systems. They cover
14 counties in Central New York and three counties in Northern Pennsylvania.
Franciscan’s application required printing of asset tags for home medical equipment provided throughout the region. The asset tag consists of a unique, barcoded serial number assigned to each piece of equipment. With five warehouses of product to track, as well as product out on consignment at physician’s offices around the region, they greatly benefited from using a barcode application to track and monitor the location of each piece of equipment.
When rented equipment is returned, items are required to go through an industrial cleaning process to be disinfected. Each item is scanned into the system and sent through a washing process to be thoroughly cleaned. From there, equipment is returned to the appropriate warehouse and stored until a rental request is received. Once a request is received, the barcode label is again scanned into the system and logged as a rental with the customer name and contact information.
Aside from tracking and locating the equipment going in and coming out of the five storage warehouses, the most challenging part of the application was keeping the barcoded tags readable and attached after going through the cleaning process.
The disinfecting process used for the rental equipment is similar to an automatic car wash machine, except the water reaches temperatures as high as 300 degrees F for approximately 7 minutes and is combined with a CaviCideTM wash, a disinfectant that is ideal for cleaning and decontaminating environmental and medical device surfaces. The medical equipment that is rented is kept in a storage area that is exposed to outside temperatures, so the labels on the equipment (wheelchairs and other mobility aids, for example) needed to be resistant to extreme cold and heat.
Because of the high temperature of the water and the cleaning solution being used, the labels they were using were falling off during the cleaning process and those that managed to stay on the equipment would smudge or become damaged to the point of being unreadable by the barcode scanner.
When Franciscan was searching for a solution to their label challenge, they looked to Zebra Technologies, a leader in barcode printing devices and labels. From there, Zebra introduced Franciscan to the team at L-Tron and they began to collaborate on a complete solution for their application.
“They needed a solution that would withstand the volume of printing that would be needed for all the different types of equipment they offer,” said Charlie Waldman, Sales Executive at L-Tron Corporation. After visiting one of their warehouses and observing the rental and cleaning process, L-Tron had a fairly good idea of what they needed to satisfy their customer’s requirements. They recommended the Zebra GK420, a desktop thermal label printer with print speeds of up to 5 inches per second.
The GK420 was chosen due to the small footprint; ideal for the small office environment where the asset tags are created, as well as for the easy loading of labels into the unit. Durability of the labels was a concern, since this was one of the biggest challenges faced by Franciscan during the cleaning process. “They didn’t believe us when we told them these labels would last for years in their application.” said Waldman. The labels used were the Zebra Z-Xtreme Synthetic labels, developed with a Zebra image-lock resin and thermal transfer ribbon. Designed with a matte polyester facestock, Z-Xtreme labels offer good smear and scratch resistance, excellent resistance to harsh chemicals, and temperature exposure up to 300 degrees F with a life of up to 3 years when used outdoors.
The barcode label printing solution provided by L-Tron and Zebra allowed Franciscan to:
• Quickly and easily identify equipment in each of the 5 warehouses
• Improve efficiencies with a barcode label that could be quickly and easily scanned by workers
• Reduce the cost of media supplies with a label that works well in their harsh environment of water and disinfectants.
• Streamline their process by tagging each piece of equipment. • Achieve an extremely fast ROI; the majority of savings being in labor costs
“L-Tron and Zebra provided us with exactly what we needed to keep our process moving smoothly.” said Bob Aber, IT Executive with Franciscan. “Their integration expertise made the migration from our old solution to our new solution simple – and they were with us every step of the way.”About L-Tron
L-Tron Corporation is a value added reseller and trusted distributor of data acquisition and collection products. Formed in 1975, L-Tron's product and service offerings have evolved to remain on the cutting edge of global business demands. L-Tron is currently a leading supplier of numerous business solutions and application software offerings. L-Tron has earned the distinction of being a Zebra Advanced Partner.
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