We had to think outside of the box, and now we have a Warehouse in a Box™…

This formed part of the speech by the Hon Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, the Rwandan Minister of Health, at the opening of the new warehouse facility of the RBC’s Medical Procurement and Production Division (MPPD) at the beginning of last month. The innovative Warehouse-in-a Box™ (WiB) is a turnkey solution that delivers the infrastructure, equipment and support services to rapidly erect a fully functional, ready-to-use, pharmaceutical warehouse and operational service. This WiB is an extension to the main warehouse, and allows the division to cease renting additional space, generating a cost saving for the MoH.

Inside the WiB
Inside the WiB

 

The warehouse was officially opened by the Minister of Health and the US Ambassador to Rwanda
The warehouse was officially opened by the Minister of Health and the US Ambassador to Rwanda

 

A gift to thank USAID and the American people for their support
A gift to thank USAID and the American people for their support

 

As the dignitaries and VIPs were given a tour of the warehouse, the rest were treated to a display by the famous national dance troupe. It is traditional Ballet of Rwanda, one of Africa’s longest established. Each dance tells a story. More information can be found at http://www.rwanda-direct.com/rwanda-intore-dancers/

 

Intore dance choir
Intore dance choir

 

Start of the Intore dance
Intore dance

 

Intore dance
Intore dance
Intore dance
Intore dance
Intore dance
Intore dance
Intore dance
Intore dance
Intore dance
Intore dance

 

 

The WiB is offered by Imperial Health Science of South Africa, and the Rwandan facility was funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID). There are many WiBs opening up around the continent, as a fast solution for warehousing needs, with each unit having a fixed cost.

 

As the name states, everything is included in ‘the box’, from the physical warehouse and its fixtures, to material handling equipment and training. In comparison to what is currently available in the country, the warehouse is state of the art, offering air -conditioning and temperature control, a cold room and sub zero freezer, bio-metric door control and CCTV.

 

My role here with CHAI, placed in the MPPD, is to optimize the warehouse space (in the WiB as well as the other warehouses). I am working on ABC analysis and zoning. Each budget holder will have its own zone, and the products will be placed within each zone based on ABC, with most frequently picked products on the ground level and less frequently picked on higher levels or at the secondary warehouse.

I am also working on a full case picking trial, to minimize opened packages and all the issues that cause (damage, loss, theft). This is rounding the orders to be in multiples of full packs where possible, and educating the customers (pharmacies) to the benefits of this.

Finally, I am working with the quantification team to improve the inventory control process, to minimize stock outs and expiring products, and lower the working capital tied up in inventory.

Alongside this, I plan to implement some ADP techniques, to help make the team more efficient. Although some of the techniques have been taught in the past, as lean ideology, I will try to embed it. Do I get a Fist or Five?

 

With a little under eight working weeks to go, I need to step it up a gear!

 

 

For more info on the WiB concept, you can visit http://www.ihs.za.com/content/warehouse-in-a-box

 

 

12 comments

  1. What a lovely example of innovation and something that is fit for purpose. Thank you for sharing and well done for your part in making it happen.

    1. Hey Michelle
      Thanks for the comment, and the link. I had not heard about reverse innovation before, but it makes perfect sense. I think the WiB would need some adaptation to get reg authority approval for some markets, but would be great to build warehouses so quickly and cheaply.

  2. Interesting blog Christos! I completely hear you with the last few weeks left! from now on it will feel like a marathon. So much to do in such a short time..

    1. Hey Noelle. Indeed, a marathon, but with obstacles! Like one of those mud challenges… haha
      Hope all is going well for you too

  3. What a fantastic example of what can be done when we put our creative minds to work. The pictures really bring your story to life. I hear you about trying to get so much done in such a short time. Take care and good luck finishing your great work.

  4. Glad to see it in place and looks amazing compared to the rented warehouses I saw last year. Well done Christos – although tell John Wilson that it was meant to be in by May 🙂

    1. Hey. Thanks for the comment. The folks from USAID and PEPFAR told me you had a lot of good input in the early stages.
      It is a massive improvement to the rented space of Rwandex, which I am aiming to empty and return to vendor before I leave!

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