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Nordland Hospital Streamlines Uniform Distribution with RAIN RFID

Staff at remote Norway hospital struggled to keep track of employee uniforms across the facility. Deister Electronic's Impinj-based solution changed that.

Improving asset tracking in healthcare with RAIN RFID 

Nordland Hospital, located in Bodø, is an essential provider of in-patient care for a population of 50,000 people in the Norwegian part of the Arctic Circle. It offers diagnostic, surgical, rehabilitation, and psychiatric care, with the added pressure of providing as-needed services to residents scattered across 80 remote islands. The care team must be laser-focused to meet the needs of a wide range of patients when they arrive — some of whom may have traveled days to access care. 

Yet the availability of clean uniforms had become an unwelcome distraction for the more than 700 doctors, nurses, kitchen crew, and operational staff that required work clothing every day. Using a manual uniform distribution system, laundry department workers had difficulty keeping clean linens in stock. Busy employees would forget to return soiled work clothes to the laundry room, often stashing dirty uniforms in offices, in staff break rooms, or on shelves. Dirty laundry would accumulate in piles, presenting a sanitation problem as well as a fire hazard. With more uniforms out of circulation than available for use, employees would often arrive at work unable to find the size or style of garment they needed. Faced with constant shortages, frustrated workers stockpiled uniforms to ensure they would have what they needed for their shifts, further dwindling supply. 

Administrators responded by ordering more linens to meet demand, yet the laundry problems persisted. Uniform rental costs soared, supply remained unreliable, and inventory counts were inaccurate. 

“The service provider was constantly delivering large quantities of linen, and more than we actually needed,” said Vibeke Mikalsen, head of operations at Nordland Hospital. Furthermore, “We could never match the delivery quantities with the delivery bills unless we counted by hand.” 

Hospital leaders needed a better way to manage employee uniform distribution, lower linen rental costs, and ensure inventory accuracy. They turned to Impinj partner Deister Electronic GmbH for a RAIN RFID asset management solution based on Impinj RAIN RFID tag chips and readers that would guarantee employees had the clean uniforms they needed and ensure their focus remained on what mattered most — patient care. 

Benefits of Deister Electronic’s RAIN RFID asset management solution: 

  • 70% reduction in textile waste 
  • Reliable availability of work clothes where and when they are needed 
  • Improved inventory management 
  • Accurate, real-time garment data to inform ordering and decision-making 
  • 24/7 laundry room accessibility and speedy check-in/check-out 
  • Improved hygiene and greater organizational efficiency 

"The service provider was constantly delivering large quantities of linen...more than we actually needed. We could never match the delivery quantities with the delivery bills unless we counted by hand."

Vibeke Mikalsen, Head of Operations, Nordland Hospital 

RAIN RFID brings organization to the laundry room 

Nordland Hospital addressed its laundry problem by constructing a centralized textile room that functions as a walk-in closet for the storage and distribution of uniforms. Deister Electronic’s texRoom asset tracking solution uses RAIN RFID — a passive, battery-free, wireless technology that tracks the location of items — to associate employees with their uniforms and record which items are returned and checked out.  

Here’s how Deister Electronic’s RAIN RFID solution works: 

  • RAIN RFID tags featuring Impinj RAIN RFID tag chips are sewn into the fabric of every hospital-issued uniform by the hospital’s laundry service provider. The tiny tag chips contain item-level information such as size, type, and style of garment. 
  • Employees drop off soiled uniforms at collection boxers called “texCabinets,” which are placed at convenient locations throughout the facility. An Impinj RAIN RFID fixed reader, featuring an Impinj RAIN RFID reader chip, reads the tagged laundry and automatically logs the drop-off in the technology’s web-based management software.  
  • To retrieve clean uniforms, employees visit the hospital’s centralized textile room, or “texRoom.” They enter through an intelligent entry turnstile called the texCarousel, where a fixed RAIN RFID reader identifies the employee by their RFID-enabled ID card. 
  • Once inside the texRoom, employees retrieve clean tagged linens from “smart” cabinet called the texGate and a RAIN RFID reader on the linen shelves records the retrieval. Back-end software creates real-time inventory reports so laundry room workers know exactly how much clean laundry is still available.  
  • As the employee leaves the texRoom through the exit texCarousel, a RAIN RFID fixed reader records the departure, matching the employee with the uniforms they have taken. There’s no need to individually scan each item — RAIN RFID can identify tagged items from up to 10 meters and without requiring direct line-of-sight — so the employee can just walk out.  
  • Uniform check-out is denied if the employee has exceeded their six-item quota. If their quota is used up, the employee must return the worn uniforms before being allowed to check out clean linens. 

Deister’s RAIN RFID uniform tracking solution solves supply problem, saves money  

Deister Electronic’s RAIN RFID solution has significantly improved Nordland Hospital’s laundry check-out experience, saving the hospital money and eliminating ongoing employee frustration. 

Improved inventory management  

With RAIN RFID tracking which uniforms are in use and who checked them out, there’s no longer a problem of stray garments. Employees can check out only six items; when they meet their limit, they must return worn items before more can be borrowed. Access to the textile room is denied if an employee’s quota is used up. Now, employees are motivated to return their soiled garments to the laundry room instead of stashing them away to return later.  

Significant cost savings

Before Deister’s asset tracking solution, the hospital had about 50,000 garments in circulation — unless the uniforms were on shelves, laundry room workers never knew where they were. Today, administrators have reduced inventory counts by 20,000 items — slashing rental costs by an expected 175,000 Euros over 10 years. And since garments no longer go missing, textile waste has been reduced by 3,500 items per year, or 70%.  

Right uniform, right size

Employees no longer need to check out more items than they’ll use in a day since Deister’s RAIN RFID solution alerts laundry room attendants when a size or type of uniform is running low. Employees can rest assured that they will have the uniforms they need when they need them.  

24/7 laundry room access

Before the laundry room’s RAIN RFID solution was implemented, employees could only pick up work clothes on weekdays before 3 p.m., when the laundry room was staffed. Now, with a RAIN RFID solution automatically overseeing the check-in/check-out process, clean uniforms are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And since employees no longer have to wait in line to check out their uniforms, they’re in and out 20 seconds faster than before. Staff-wide, that’s 1.4 hours more time per day spent instead on patient care. Cleaner is better. 

Gone are the days when dirty uniforms piled up in staff break rooms. Today, soiled garments at Nordland Hospital end up where they belong — in the laundry room — so they can be cleaned, sorted, organized, and made available for its busy caregivers. 

Happy employees: a sign of success 

Deister Electronic’s texRoom RAIN RFID asset management solution has been so well received that Helse Nord, Nordland Hospital’s parent company, plans to implement it in the laundry rooms of other hospitals within its health system.  

But if you ask Mikalsen, Nordland Hospital’s nurses, doctors, and other uniformed employees are the real winners. She reports that employees are very pleased that the uniforms they need are always available and guaranteed to be the right size. 

“This advantage [happy employees] outweighs the economic benefit,” Mikalsen said. 

Learn more about Deister Electronic on the Impinj Partner Directory and read how RAIN RFID and the Impinj platform can track assets and improve inventory management in your organization. 

Article tagged as:

Asset Management Customer Story Healthcare Inventory Management Linen & Uniform Tracking Impinj Reader Chips Impinj Readers Impinj Tag Chips

Tuesday, May 21, 2024


Deister Electronic GmbH

Deister Electronic GmbH

For nearly 40 years, Deister Electronic has been known for its innovative RFID products and solutions for identification, automation, and security. We develop, produce and sell our products worldwide and our local subsidiaries create solutions.

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