robots coursiers CHU de Nantes

Courier robots at the Nantes University Hospital

Rethinking its logistics of the last meters

The Nantes University Hospital has set up autonomous mobile robots for the transport of medical products.

  • Need to give back medical time to nursing staff by eliminating trips to medico-technical platforms
  • Pooling of disinfection missions for the equipment of several departments on the same site
  • Development of the courier robot solution (Meanwhile SAS)
  • Time savings and high service availability thanks to the optimization of robot routes
  • Many areas of application: Delivery / recovery of endoscopes, blood bags, pharmacy, samples…
  • Financial aspects: rental / maintenance under finance lease, 36 to 60 months;
    • Average annual cost for 2 robots: €300K over 10 years (depending on the options and parameters selected)

5 questions to Tony Perlemoine

Logistics project manager; Investments, Logistics and New Hospital Division; Nantes University Hospital Center:

How did the idea come about?

9 years ago the CHU of Nantes decided to create the Cetres (treatment center for flexible endoscopes). The idea was to consolidate its 7 disinfection centers into one in order to professionalize the staff in the treatment and management of endoscopes. A problem then arose: this grouping distanced the user services from disinfection.

Transport by courier was then set up at a rate of 4 return trips per day, at a fixed time, between Cetres and 4 services.

One day the company SwissEnov contacted the Nantes CHU to offer 2 courier robots. We had the idea of testing this technology for transporting endoscopes, particularly with a view to the future hospital in Nantes.

This ultra-innovative technology was implemented with strong involvement from the Cetres team. As with any project involving new technologies, getting started is not always easy, but the team “played the game” well. The 4 deliveries per day were maintained for the time to stabilize the operation of the robots and then transferred to other services one after the other.

Obviously questions have arisen: safety, potential inconvenience caused in the corridors, ease of use, etc.

Despite malfunctions at start-up, the Cetres team was really helpful and the operation improved over the months. It did not take long for users (caregivers) to be convinced by this technology. We quickly saw the benefits of such a solution. With rapidly advancing technology what was very difficult a few years ago like delivering and traversing a care unit from start to finish is now easily done by robots.

What are the main benefits?

We are on our 3rd generation of robots. The benefits are numerous, I will mention 4 of them which show the enormous interest of integrating this technology in a health establishment:

  • Time given back to staff: No more trips between departments to take/recover clean or dirty endoscopes.
  • Availability: I use the robots when I need them. This eases the workload for disinfection of endoscopes; result: from 4 round trips per day before the robots, we are now at 55 round trips per day.
  • Transport time reliability: The robot is truly autonomous. He takes the elevator, opens motorized doors, avoids obstacles, warns by various possible means when he has reached his destination…
  • Utilisation facility. Less than 30s and one tap on the robot screen to identify yourself, open the robot, retrieve/remove an endoscope and send the robot off to its next destination.

How did users perceive this innovation?