Two-bin Systems are Better Than One!

When staff can't find the supplies that they need healthcare organizations end up with delayed patient care, frustrated staff, hording which can create over ordering of items which adds cost to the system, as well as interruptions to the workflow of the purchaser having to deal with a rush order. Most healthcare organizations usually use the par system whereby each item has a set par level based on historical usage. The purchaser or material handler would have to manually count how many of each item was in inventory, enter the amount into the system, and deliver the exact amount needed to bring the item up to par in the storage space. In addition to this process being inefficient, it has a lengthy learning curve for any new material handler.

A two-bin inventory control system is aimed at reducing inventory and optimizing the reordering process. The system monitors the quantity of how many items remain by a visual process. When the first bin is emptied the Kanban or visual card on the front of the bin is flipped to signal that it is time to reorder. The clinical team uses the items in the second bin until more items arrive. The person doing the reordering can quickly tell what needs to be reordered by the color of the visual card.

Bin Use.PNG
Bin Card.PNG

The advantage of a two-bin inventory control system;

  • Items never run out for reduced waiting time (no stock-outs);

  • Items are always reordered when needed for minimized lead time ( no overstock);

  • Optimized inventory volume for the need of less storage.

The two-bin inventory control system has four factors that must be balanced:

  • C - the number of visual cards must equal the number of bins in use;

  • S - the size of the bin or how many items can fit in it;

  • L - the lead time to replenish the inventory or how long from sending the signal until the team receives new inventory;

  • D - the daily demand for the particular item.

The formula for the optimal two-bin system is (C-1)*S = L*D. Of course, this basic approach does not factor in fluctuating demand, minimum orders, or other variables as these are the customization calculations that would need to be included. This may not be an issue if you partner with a supplier that fills the bins as needed on a regularly scheduled delivery.

Check out this short training video!

The Infinitum Transformation Team can assist you in implementing a two-bin inventory control system. Contact us if you'd like to train your staff.