Magazine Article | December 21, 2006

Clinical Laboratory Improves Logistics With GPS

Source: Field Technologies Magazine
Integrated Solutions, January 2007

Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings (LabCorp) is the world's second largest clinical laboratory, with annual revenues of $3.3 billion in 2005. Headquartered in Burlington, NC, LabCorp tests more than 370,000 specimens daily for 220,000 clients nationwide, through a network of 36 primary testing locations and 1,300-plus patient service centers.

On a daily basis, drivers pick up boxes of specimens from local airports and distribute these to medical facilities and/or LabCorp receiving areas in Burlington or Research Triangle Park. In October 2006 alone, the logistics team handled 1,523 boxes delivered by commercial airlines.

In early 2004, LabCorp began using a phone-based mobile workforce management service from Xora Inc. to streamline field-staff activities. Xora software running on GPS (global positioning system)-enabled cell phones allows field staff to record when they arrive at and leave a location. Back in the office, management has access to Web-based maps and business reports that show the locations and status of drivers in real time. Kimberly Durham, logistics manager for LabCorp, uses this data to improve the process for routing drivers, assigning new orders, and responding to urgent pickup or delivery situations.

Drivers use the phones to input job codes, of which there are 14. Durham tracks how long drivers stay at various LabCorp sites so she can respond immediately to any delays. "For example, a facility that is renovating at or near its dock door may delay a driver as he completes his job," says Durham. "Likewise, if a FedEx truck is parked at the dock door, this could also result in a driver delay. The ability to remotely know of a problem allows me to contact the building maintenance crew at the customer site to see if there is an alternate route for the driver."

Since implementing the solution from Xora, LabCorp has streamlined field staff operations significantly. Drivers spend less time at various pickup sites, thus maximizing time spent in the field. "In the first year of implementing the GPS-based solution, we noticed a decrease of 15 to 20 minutes per shipment per driver per day, a sizable savings when spread over the millions of boxes we handle annually," says Durham. Going forward, LabCorp may seek to leverage bar code scanning technology available with the Xora service. A bar code scanner connected to the phone would allow drivers to track boxes as they move through buildings and departments. Xora-generated business reports would include this information, thereby speeding the process of locating boxes that have been misplaced.