Drive Efficiency and Reduce Labor Costs with a Workstation on Wheels

What is a Workstation on Wheels?

As technology has evolved in the digital age, a key emphasis for much of the workforce has shifted to mobility. A Workstation on Wheels (a.k.a. a mobile computer cart) is an essential tool for achieving this mobility. It’s essentially a traveling desk that allows workers to take all of the tools they need wherever they go. The small, lightweight carts usually include mounting for a laptop or a computer with monitor and related peripherals, such as extendable keyboard and mouse platforms; a barcode scanner; a printer; and storage bins or drawers for other necessary items, such as patient medications in healthcare environments. They run on rechargeable battery power, but also have cords for wall-outlet recharging backup. A Workstation on Wheels is a vital component of efficient workflows in healthcare and warehouse or distribution environments, offering benefits ranging from greater productivity to reductions in errors, making them well worth the investment.

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HEALTHCARE BENEFITS

The Benefits of a Workstation on Wheels for Healthcare Workers

One of the industries that benefits most from using Workstations on Wheels is healthcare. Since legislation mandated the shift to digital patient information, providers have needed computers to access and maintain electronic medical records (EMRs), which are records of a patient’s care at a specific facility, and electronic health records (EHRs), which are complete and integrated patient medical histories. Making that access portable via a Workstation on Wheels has many advantages for providers and patients. It can:

  • Streamline clinical workflows: Healthcare providers don’t have to travel back and forth between each patient and an office desk or stationary computer to enter their notes. The computer can travel with them from room to room, saving steps and valuable time. This efficiency can allow them to see more patients per shift and spend more time ensuring thorough care.
  • Reduce data collection errors and improve patient safety: When data is entered immediately and directly at the point of care, the potential for errors is reduced or eliminated. Information can be double-checked with the patient, and there is less chance for important details to get lost, forgotten in transit, or for handwritten notes, to be unreadable. The increased accuracy and access improve patient safety. For example, alerts about potential allergic reactions or contraindications will be immediately available when medication is administered.
  • Promote patient engagement: Healthcare providers can turn their monitor so the patient can view diagnostic images or test results as the provider explains. This engagement can improve patient understanding and thereby increase the likelihood that they will adhere to treatment regimens. Patients can also feel more secure about the confidentiality of their sensitive information, since it is entered in the room with the patient instead of at a shared or more public workstation.
  • Optimally leverage hospital IT infrastructure: Unlike wall-mounted computers, Workstations on Wheels are adjustable to meet each user’s ergonomic needs.

Tablet computers, while also portable, have comparatively poor battery life, as well as touchscreen keyboards that are much more difficult to work with than a regular keyboard. Workstations on Wheels are the most useful option for mobilizing healthcare computers, making them the best IT investment. Plus, with a good maintenance program from your tech provider, your in-house IT staff can devote their time to other areas.

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Use and Benefits of Warehouse Workstations on Wheels

Workstations on Wheels aren’t just for the healthcare industry; they have many advantages for warehousing, fulfillment, distribution, and manufacturing.

  • They are a new extension of the mobile workforce: Mobile computer workstations allow workers to bring more technology and tools — laptops or PCs, printers, barcode scanners, and more — to the point of their tasks. Access to the enterprise’s WMS, ERP, and other network applications is always online and at workers’ fingertips, anywhere in the facility.
  • They reduce foot traffic and enhance worker safety: Employees no longer have to spend time and energy traveling back and forth between the warehouse shelves and a stationary computer. The time saved can significantly increase productivity. Also, since the carts and equipment run on battery power and connection to a wireless network, there are fewer cords and cables cluttering the floor and acting as tripping hazards.
  • They improve process efficiency and reduce human errors: Having the proper tools available immediately and on-the-go can enhance the efficiency of most warehousing and distribution tasks, including inventory management, cycle counts, labeling, inspecting, and cataloging received shipments, and order fulfillment. For example, a Workstation on Wheels can allow a worker to pick all of the items for an order together, rather than having to pick each item individually and take it to a central workstation for scanning. With the time saved by eliminating all of those trips, the employee can fulfill more orders, boosting profitability. Immediacy of data entry also reduces the chance for errors and allows for the most accurate real-time inventory updates.

Desired Features of a Workstation on Wheels

There’s a fairly wide variety available when choosing a Workstation on Wheels, and many are customizable to suit your particular needs. But there are several key factors to look for if you want the best quality for your investment.

  • It should be lightweight and durable: You don’t want to cause your employees unnecessary fatigue or increase the chance of work-related injuries by having them lug around heavy, cumbersome carts. At the same time, you want to ensure the carts are made with high-quality, durable materials that will give them a decent life expectancy. Your workstation on wheels should be constructed of materials appropriate for your industry. Nurses demand agile carts constructed from lightweight materials, built specifically for healthcare environments, and offer antimicrobial coatings to prevent the spread of infection. For the warehouse, fulfillment, and manufacturing industries’ workforce, workstations on wheels should be made of durable materials, such as steel steel and aluminum alloy, to withstand the demanding and harsh environments of the industries they serve.
  • It should be agile and have a small footprint: The wheels should move freely in any direction over various surfaces — carpet, tile, wood floors, cement floors, and elevator thresholds — giving the cart maneuverability for turning tight corners or avoiding collisions. A smaller size and lower center of gravity will assist with easy movement as well.
  • It should be ergonomically designed and adjustable: There should be smooth mechanisms for adjusting height and keyboard or mouse platforms (for left or right hand) to reduce fatigue or potential injury and maximize comfort for each individual user. Monitors should offer swivel mounts or slide mounts as needed to share viewing with patients.
  • It should offer plenty of storage, with optional locks: Consider what items you will want your staff to have within reach. You should be able to select the configuration of bins, trays, or drawers that meet the needs of your facility. Some items may require the extra security of lockable drawers to avoid unauthorized access.
  • It should have a battery system that fits your facility’s needs: Determine your wattage requirements (the number of watts needed to power all desired equipment on the cart per hour), and multiply by the number of hours you expect the battery to run before recharging. Then choose a battery with a higher power output, so that it doesn’t have to run at maximum all the time.

The Importance of a Quality Workstation on Wheels Battery System

There is more to consider about battery systems besides power output. Other characteristics to look for include:

  • Hot-swappable: Perhaps one of the most important features is the ability to hot-swap the batteries, meaning you can change out a depleted one for a fresh one without shutting down (and then having to reboot) all of the equipment. A two-battery system ensures that when one gets low, the cart switches to the other, giving your staff time to swap out the low one with zero downtime.
  • Fast recharge: You can also reduce downtime with batteries that recharge quickly, offering power with either a partial or full recharge.
  • High capacity: If you choose a battery with higher output than you need, you’ll not only keep it from running at maximum constantly, but also will have room to add more equipment later.
  • High level of safety, low risk of fire hazards: Lithium-iron phosphate (LiFE) batteries offer the safest, most stable chemistry, reducing the chance of fire from overheating. You also want a battery that does not require fans as a cooling mechanism, because fans are moving parts that will require more maintenance, and they can blow around dust, allergens, and germs.
  • Easy-to-read fuel gauge: Look for a display that clearly indicates how much time remains before a swap is needed.
  • Lightweight: Batteries can add a lot of weight to your workstation. Look for lighter rechargeable batteries to maintain ease of mobility.

Workstation on Wheels Cost

There’s no denying that Workstations on Wheels are a major investment. However, cost involves more than just the initial purchase price. There are several factors to consider when looking at the balance sheet.

Besides unit price, there will be preventive maintenance and repair costs (part of the total costs of ownership). However, if you invest in a quality product to begin with, and then invest in a good maintenance plan from your tech provider, you can significantly extend the life of your workstations, thereby getting the best value.

These costs will also be mitigated by the savings that will create a good return on investment. For example, Workstations on Wheels will help you reduce labor costs because the increased efficiency they enable by reducing steps will boost productivity and thereby profits, helping you get a good return on the wages you pay as well. Reducing trips back and forth from a stationary computer also reduces the potential for costly errors, saving you even more money. These factors, weighed against the initial and ongoing costs, should make the investment more than worthwhile.

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Tips for a Successful Workstation on Wheels Deployment

Finally, you’ll want to choose an experienced tech provider with a knowledgeable team to assist with deployment and installation of your Workstation on Wheels fleet. Rely on the experts to help you with every step, including:

  • Planning, set-up, and configuration: If these are handled at the provider’s facilities, it will increase on-site installation efficiency.
  • Hardware installation: mounting and connecting all equipment, including laptops or PCs and peripherals, printers, and barcode scanners.
  • Software installation: loading the programs you’ll need.
  • Adjustments/fine-tuning to movement and ergonomics: ensuring maximum mobility and comfort.
  • IT network integration: enabling wireless functioning of equipment such as barcode scanners, and connecting to your systems (EMRs and EHRs, or WMS and ERP).

The Right Partner Makes a Difference

Look for a provider with a good reputation in the industry, a commitment to customer service, and the ability to understand your facility’s unique needs and customize your solution accordingly. Hopefully, you are creating a partnership that will last for years, giving you the maximum benefit from your Workstations on Wheels.

Definitive Technology Group leadership has more than four decades of industry experience and teams of experts creating productivity-boosting solutions backed by an industry-leading 5-year warranty and a guaranteed 12-month return on your investment. To learn more about how our solutions, including Workstations on Wheels, can benefit your facility, contact us today.

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