Franciscan Health Crown Point employees have some new tools to assist in food and environmental services deliveries in the form of autonomous mobile robots.
The six Aethon TUG T3 robots (TUGs) carry and deliver carts with linens, towels and meal trays to the hospital floors from the kitchen and environmental services departments. The robots began operating this fall following training sessions for staff.
“Franciscan Health Crown Point is thrilled to add the TUGs to our operations,” Franciscan Health Crown Point President and CEO Daniel McCormick, MD, said. “The robots allow our staff to operate more efficiently while adding yet another state-of-the-art technology in service to our patients, who are always our top priority.”
The facility was mapped with precision lasers, which allow the robots to navigate on a digital map. The TUGs’ array of sensors allows them to navigate safely among patients, staff and guests as well as unexpected obstacles. The fully automated, multi-directional robots are programmed to automatically return to their charging docks when their jobs are complete.
The robots can also automatically open doors and enter and exit elevators. The TUGs use elevators reserved for hospital staff and will not accompany patients or visitors in elevators.
As new construction and temporary or permanent changes to the configuration of the hallways take place, the mapping can be changed to allow the TUGs to continue to navigate with ease.
The carts on the TUGs are manually loaded by kitchen and environmental services staff. The robots then go to the floors as directed, automatically drop the carts when they arrive at their destinations and return to their charging docks. Staff on the floor is notified when the carts arrive via a wearable communication device already used throughout the hospital.
The TUGs do not replace human workers and have not eliminated any jobs. Rather, they support existing Franciscan Health staff, allowing them to work more efficiently with compassionate care for patients by spending less time transporting carts to and from the floors.
“We are proud to support Franciscan Health Crown Point’s mission of care and healing through the use of Aethon’s robot technology,” ST Engineering, Aethon CEO Peter Seiff said. “By ensuring reliable and efficient delivery of materials throughout the hospital, the staff can focus on providing the best possible care and experience for the patient.”