Published on November 02, 2016

Robots to Assist Meal Transport at Reading Hospital

Reading Health has invested in a state-of-the-art system that will enhance staff efficiency by using robots to transport patient meals to the newest facility on the Reading Hospital campus.

The automated transport system will use eight robots, called TUGs, to transport patient meals from Reading Hospital's Nutrition Services to patient floors at Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical & Patient Care. Patient floors at the HealthPlex will open in January 2017.

The distance from Nutrition Services to Reading HealthPlex and back is a half mile. That roundtrip will be made up to 50 times per day to deliver room service carts and return the dirty carts to the dishroom. Reading Hospital offers patients personalized room-service style dining allowing individuals to order freshly prepared meals at the time of their choosing.

These robots will not replace employees, but will help enhance efficiency, because while they are transporting and returning the carts, employees can be focused on nutrition services and patient care. The system is designed to maximize the temperature retention and quality of the foods served to support the health and recovery of patients.

The TUGs will be programmed on specific routes from Nutrition Services to Reading HealthPlex and back. The robots will move at three miles per hour along the planned routes. When the TUGs arrive at Reading HealthPlex, room service ambassadors will remove the carts from the TUGs and deliver the trays to the patients.

Reading Health is communicating the "do's" and "dont's" with staff who may find themselves in the vicinity of one of the TUGs, which are programmed to avoid people and equipment. The robots will have the capacity to open automatic doors and control certain designated elevators along their planned route.