Two Clemson IE students, Amogh Bhosekar and Kade Gilstrap, are the winners of the “Best Student Track Paper” organized by the Healthcare Systems Division of IISE during the 2018 Annual IISE Conference. Their paper is titled “Simulation Optimization of Automated Guided Vehicle System in a Health Care Facility.” This paper summarizes the findings of their year-long research with Greenville Memorial Hospital (GMH) under the guidance of their faculty advisors, Dr. Tugce Isik and Dr. Sandra Eksioglu, and Dr. Robert Allen, a Clemson IE graduate, who is currently working at GMH.
Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) are used in hospitals to perform tasks such as moving surgical instruments, drugs, linen, food, and trash. The prize-winning study is focused on the movement of surgical carts from the sterilization and perioperative area to the operating theater, which is located on a different floor at GMH. The movement of AGVs cause traffic congestion, which impacts the movement of staff and their safety.
The students analyzed historical data and conducted time studies in order to understand what factors impact traffic congestion. They used the data to build a simulation model using the Arena software package. Using this model, they found that more AGVs than needed were being assigned to the movement of surgical carts in an effort to reduce job completion time. The extra AGVs had the unwanted effect of increasing congestion in the narrow corridors of the facility, which ironically served to increase job completion time.
The research team suggested the use of a Kanban system to control the movement of AGVs. The team also suggested that the number of AGVs used should not be constant, but should rather be a function of the number of surgeries scheduled in different days of the week. A pilot study validated the results of this research.
The research team is currently investigating the impact that a new floor design would have on AGV movements and congestion at GMH. The students and faculty are excited about the potential impact that their research could have to shape decisions made at GMH.