Gain & Co concludes largest hospital tender for self-driving robots in Denmark
PRESS RELEASE: 35 mobile robots will soon start transporting medical equipment, food, linen, and other goods around Zealand University Hospital – 100 % autonomously.
A big milestone has been reached in one of the most prestigious logistics projects at a Danish hospital.
Zealand University Hospital (ZUH) in Køge, Denmark has just selected a supplier of self-driving mobile robots for its logistics operations. At a total price of 3,1 million euros, the purchase of the 35 robots is the single biggest investment of its kind by a Danish hospital.
Gain & Co acted as the hospital’s independent advisor on the project, securing a successful tender process according to the Project Head of IT & Equipment at the hospital, Frank Hansen.
“The work done by Gain & Co has helped us achieve a competitive tender process,” says Frank Hansen, Project Head of IT and Equipment at ZUH.
Each year, the hospital has to reduce operational expenses by 7 percent. Using robots for automated transport is a key strategy for the hospital to meet this target. The robots will, according to Frank Hansen, both reduce strenuous work for employees and make logistics operations more efficient.
“In this aspect, it has been essential that Gain & Co with their knowledge of the robot market could help us get several good offers from suppliers closely competing on price, quality, and time horizon,” he says.
Years of preparation required to automate critical infrastructure
It is still new and relatively untested territory for many hospitals to implement mobile robots on a larger scale. Getting it right for ZUH has required several years of careful planning.
Once the robots take over transport from next year, it will be at an unprecedented scale for the hospital. The robots will in 2025 cover both the existing hospital and 185,000 square meters of new hospital buildings doing more than 2,000 transports per day.
“This is critical infrastructure for us. If the robots fail, we will have to revert to manual transport. The last resort could be to evacuate the hospital. That’s why it’s so important to start planning early,” says Frank Hansen.
One of the first things the hospital needed to uncover was how the robots would interact with the new and existing buildings. Gain & Co conducted a thorough review of the facilities and provided a comprehensive list of requirements for the robots to work.
“The things that can become a problem for a robot can be very different from those to a person. You need to know how the technology works to spot these issues in advance,” says Mikkel Viager, Senior Robot & Automation Advisor from Gain & Co.
One example was missing wifi in elevators. Without it, the robots would lose connection with the fleet management system as soon as the doors closed – with the risk of getting stuck. Another example was glass doors: The robots might run into them because the glass confuses the sensors.
“Finding all these potential issues early on has made it possible for us to fix them before the robots arrive. This means we get a more reliable solution,” says Frank Hansen.
A key part of preparing the hospital for mobile robots was to identify obstacles that would stand in the way of the robots, such as pipes at certain heights undetectable by the robot sensors.