Couverture - Les robots mobiles au service du transport d'endoscopes

Testimonial: Mobile robots at the service of transporting endoscopes

Through this interview with Tony PERLEMOINE, Logistics Project Manager at the Nantes University Hospital, you will discover the whole process of the autonomous mobile robot project within the Nantes University Hospital, from the initial need to the feedback.

Mr. PERLEMOINE’s main mission is to manage the flows of the new hospital which should see the light of day in 2027. To do this, he must face many challenges:

  • Anticipate travel and transport between the logistics rear base and the future hospital, which will be 2 km apart.
  • Rethink the organization of the logistics platform to meet the challenges of the new hospital.
  • Study and set up the entire logistical organization inside the new hospital.

Indeed, the project for the new hospital on the island of Nantes is based on a strong conviction: it must be designed to offer the best conditions of care to the patient and
to improve the working conditions of staff.

Some figures to present the Nantes University Hospital?

“It is the 7th University Hospital Center in France with on average per day:

  • 2,680 consultations;
  • 11 births;
  • 119 surgeries;
  • 336 visits to emergency departments. »

What was your problem and your initial need?

“Ten years ago, the management of the Nantes University Hospital decided to professionalize the management and processing of endoscopes by moving from 7 centers to a single disinfection center. The objective is to improve the quality of their treatment.

A problem then arose: How to deliver the endoscopes to the various departments?

We therefore needed a solution capable of navigating the corridors in the presence of patients, medical staff and also visitors. Our corridors are also sometimes cramped, some turn at 90° which is not easy. In addition, to exit the CETRES (Flexible Endoscope Treatment and Disinfection Center) you must take an elevator. Finally, one of the last points posing a problem is that the people of the services delivered do not have a direct view of the point of delivery of the robots, that is to say that they do not see the robot arrive and do not know visually that this one happened. »

What solution did you implement?

“In order to solve these problems a few years ago, we were contacted by a company offering autonomous mobile robots. A few years later, we had to change these robots for a 2nd generation, then in April 2021 a 3rd generation of autonomous mobile robots with the company Meanwhile. »

How did this solution meet your expectations and needs?

“This technology has been able to meet our requirements and our requests on several points. First on navigation: the robots move indoors in an environment open to the public (this is equipped with an obstacle detection system). They are autonomous: beyond avoiding obstacles, they take the elevator on their own, are able to open the motorized doors and automatically reposition themselves on the charging base when they have no more missions to perform.

They are capable of resuming a mission along the way, for example when it is stopped and moved a few meters by a staff member (the robots do not have priority in the corridors).

They are agile: at the university hospital, taking the elevator is complicated because the opening is only 77 cm. Also, the infrastructure did not need to be modified since the robots navigate only thanks to the Wi-Fi coverage of the university hospital center.

The huge advantage of this solution is availability: it can be used as needed and at any time of the day, on demand and/or on a scheduled basis.

The 8 to 10 hours of autonomy without recharging the robots reassured us vis-à-vis the number of deliveries which are increasing regularly and the distances to be covered between the different departments where the deliveries are made. Knowing that as soon as the robot returns to its base at the CETRES, it recharges over short but frequent periods. »

What are the advantages for the CETRES team?

“Previously, the CETRES team received all the soiled endoscopes by courier 4 times a day, then the courier then left with the clean endoscopes. But today all this is happening as it happens, the team has been able to smooth out its activity and send endoscopes on demand.

Transport reliability is also an advantage: to date CETRES delivers 4 services with the longest journey lasting on average 12 minutes. »

And in terms of security?

“The robots are equipped with a secure cabinet because they navigate within the University Hospital in corridors open to the public. But also, we wanted the use of the robots to be reserved for the staff of the services delivered by the robots, so we set up an automated authorization via the professional card (which is used in particular to pay for the self-service and gives access to the staff changing rooms medical). This authorization is thus given or removed automatically depending on the service and profession of the hospital’s nursing staff. »

How does the robot interact with staff?

“The robots are very easy to use: the screen (Human Machine Interface) is tailor-made, so that each authorized person can handle the robot in a few seconds.

Also, compared to the problem mentioned above where the services provided did not see the robots arrive, as soon as the robot arrives at a destination, it calls on a fixed telephone of the service provided in order to signal its presence. For CETRES, the department wanted a lighted glass inside the department that lights up as soon as the robot arrives.

Regarding the problem of cramped corridors where the stretcher-bearers could have difficulty passing the robots in certain places, we have put in place:

  • A music emitted by the robots so that we hear them arrive before seeing them;
  • A spot that projects, at ground level, a light 2m in front of robots;
  • A setting of the speed (more or less fast depending on the spatial constraints.)»

Can you share some figures on the use of the robot?

“With this solution, 4 destinations are served, an average of 120 endoscopes transported per day and between them the robots travel around 1,300 km/year. With an average of more than 100 elevator rides daily. »

And to conclude ?

“At the Nantes University Hospital we have been using robots for 8 years now, this technology has made great progress. The difference is enormous between our first robots and our current robots. With our significant hindsight we can affirm that this technology is reliable and useful. The best way to know if it is effective is to ask the caregivers directly and their feedback is very positive today.

This solution is reliable but also easy to use. In one click and less than 30 seconds, the caregiver retrieves his endoscope and sends the robot back to its next destination. Today robots are an integral part of CETRES, the team can no longer see itself working without them.

The next step for the Nantes University Hospital is to launch studies on the extension of the services provided by CETRES, the transport of chemotherapy and that of biological samples in the laboratories.

It is expected that these robots will be transferred to the new hospital in 2027.”