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Mastermover has revealed how Glasgow Royal Infirmary has utilised electric-operated materials-handling tugs for moving roll cages and other bulk supplies around the hospital.

According to the company, the hospital has boosted portering efficiencies and productivity by at least 20 per cent.

Andrew Russell, portering and security manager at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, said: ‘Deliveries of supplies to the hospital can now be unloaded in a third of the time.

‘The tugs have also made the job easier and safer,’ he added.

The hospital itself is an ageing building with uneven slopes, lots of sharp corners and turns, as well as rough ground outside, which makes handling and movement of hospital bulk supplies challenging.

Russell said: ‘Prior to investing in the Smartmover tug, roll cages of supplies such as food, toiletries and laundry, were unloaded from delivery vans and moved around the hospital manually, one at a time.

‘Using the Smartmover, a single porter can now manoeuvre up to three roll cages at a time.

‘Cages can be transferred direct from the back of a delivery vehicle to the required destination within the hospital, quickly and safely, without requiring any additional equipment or tools,’ he added.

In addition, porters were also responsible for moving bulk supplies such as pharmacy boxes, sundries for wards and refuse bins with clinical and domestic waste.

These heavy, bulky goods were moved around the hospital using a combination of manual effort and ride-on tugs.

However, these ride-on tugs were too large and bulky to negotiate tight bends, narrow corridors and elevators because their turning point was too wide.

This was causing unacceptable delays in deliveries.

‘Often, if a corridor narrows in the hospital, the porter would have to leave the ride-on tug behind and manoeuvre the bulk supplies manually to their required destination,’ Russell said.

It was back in early 2010 that Russell realised that a solution was required in order to improve handling efficiencies and to reduce the risk of injuries to staff and patients.

A work colleague recommended he contact a local materials handling specialist called the Reekie Group, which is the preferred distributor of Mastermover products in Scotland.

Sandy Thomson, field sales manager at the Reekie Group, said: ‘Russell contacted me and explained the problems he was having with movement of roll cages.

‘We visited the hospital to demonstrate the benefits of Mastermover’s Smartmover SM100, which is specifically designed to move multiple roll cages,’ Thomson added.

The demonstration took place in the sub-basement of the hospital and was considered a success.

Russell said:’ We decided to test the Smartmover on some uneven flooring and so the basement was the ideal testing ground.

‘We coupled the tug to three roll cages and it worked very well.

‘Immediately we began to see the benefits the tug would bring to the hospital,’ he added.

Smartmover is a versatile machine designed for moving roll cages from vehicle trail lifts and across uneven surfaces, slopes and can turn through 90deg.

By clamping to the base of the roll cage, the unit ensures that the cage cannot be tipped onto the operator.

This reduces serious injury to employees and makes unloading a single-person procedure.

Efficiency and safety are further improved by allowing the movement of multiple roll cages using the towing links.

Sealed batteries, variable speed and auto braking are also standard.

Smartmover connects to the base of the wheeled load via a clamping mechanism, which is operated by using a simple lever located on the neck of the device.

Once connected, the machine is secured to the load and the operator can use the ‘forward’ and ‘reverse’ controls.

The machine is also easy to use.

A throttle paddle on the headset enables the user to constantly vary the speed according to the conditions.

There is also a twin-speed button that enables the operator to place a cap on the speed, which is useful for busy healthcare environments.

Among other built-in safety features is an anti-crush button that ensures the user cannot become trapped between the machine and an immoveable object.

The device has an electro-magnetic brake, which is constantly engaged until the operator applies power via the throttle.

The unit can be steered on either side, enabling easy turning in tight spaces.

When off load, the device travels on the support wheels for maximum operator comfort.

Following the demonstration, Russell ordered two Smartmovers from the Reekie Group for moving multiple roll cages.

The Reekie Group ensured that appropriate couplings were supplied to connect multiple roll cages to the Smartmover machines.

In addition, Russell bought two Master Tug MT3 machines to replace the ride-on tugs for moving more bulky supplies.

The Mastertug MT3-240 can push, pull and steer wheeled and semi-wheeled loads up to 2,400kg in weight.

The machine’s technology moves the weight of the load on to the drive wheel through a coupling system, thereby ensuring maximum traction from a light and manoeuvrable machine.

Simply to operate and with a range of integrated safety features, the machine is said to be suitable for use in environments where space is restricted.

At Glasgow Royal Infirmary, 12 porters received full on-site training from Mastermover on how to use the four tugs.

Russell said the training was fast, straightforward and provided a morale boost for the porters.

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