Demo pool logistics for medical devices: Arriving at an operating theatre table on time

Modern medical devices provide a large number of functions and components which make physical examinations and operations possible at the highest level. However, the devices come at a price. Experts therefore want to test a unit before possibly investing hundreds of thousands of euros. As a result, manufacturers of medical devices offer their potential purchasers such as hospitals or doctors’ offices the option of ‘trying before buying’.

Ready for the test: The demo business with medical devices

Products such as ultrasound scanners, endoscopes, incubators, diagnostics devices for ophthalmic optics and operating theatre microscopes for spinal operations or neurosurgery can often be tested for a few days or weeks before a decision is taken to purchase the unit. This testing is normally conducted in direct contact with patients. In addition to their use in medical centres, the devices are put on display at specialist trade fairs and congresses.

Demonstration units are used for these displays and need to be prepared for each potential customer and presentation purpose. Managing a complete demo pool is a complex and time-consuming business and ties up resources. It involves:

This is what is required for professional demo pool management

1Scheduling an appointment

Before confirming the demonstration date, it is necessary to check whether the device will be available on the corresponding day and whether trained employees are able to carry out the transport operation, set-up work, installation and handover on-site where the device is going to be used. It is easier to keep an eye on things if companies use an electronic transport management system or a demo calendar to enter orders and check the status of each device – particularly if it is necessary to manage a fairly large number of demonstration devices and kinds of products as well as varying types of equipment.

2. Transporting the demonstration device to the doctor’s office

Medical devices are sensitive and require careful handling. It is therefore not only necessary to have suitable packaging, but also adequate transport equipment as well as safe vehicles, which can protect the valuable cargo from vibrations, for example, and where the temperature can also be regulated, if necessary. Employees who take on the task of handling the demonstration devices should be trained in working with the particular specifications of the type of unit in question.

3. Set-up and installation check

The structure and functionality of the unit should be checked before each demonstration. This preparatory work takes a lot of time, particularly with complex devices, and can sometimes continue for several hours. It makes sense to use a checklist to complete the inspection at the site. This should include not only a visual inspection for any external damage, but also checking whether everything has been supplied in line with the packing list, examining the external condition for any damage that may have occurred in transit, labelling and verifying that the unit is clean. After starting the system, it is possible to check both the mechanical functions of the device and its software functions and connections. The employee also needs to document the relevant circumstances at the site where the unit is set up, e.g. the room temperature, humidity and any vibrations.  

4. Dismantling and returning the unit

In most cases, the demonstration unit remains at the doctor’s premises or the hospital for a few days or even several weeks. The device must be dismantled on the date agreed for the pick-up and all the parts should be checked in line with the pick-up note before it is taken away. It makes sense to put the device in a safe transport box again for the return journey.

5. Refurbishing for the next assignment

As soon as the device has been returned to the pool, any refurbishment work can be performed. Refurbishment includes deleting any patient data according to the stipulations of the GDPR as well as checking the accessory components, connections and software functions. Finally, the device has to be cleaned. After having been disinfected, the product should be repackaged or covered with foil and put into storage in the proper manner. All the process stages should be documented on a digital checklist.

6. Repair work, maintenance and sales

Medical devices must be regularly serviced and the electrical safety of the device certified. Maintenance dates can be used to install software updates, for instance, or replace hardware components. A checklist can also be beneficial here for quality assurance purposes. Obsolete devices should be replaced in the demonstration pool in good time and prepared for sale, if necessary.

Why it is worthwhile to cooperate with a logistics specialist

In order to reduce the effort and expenditure in-house of managing a demo pool, it is beneficial to have a logistics partner manage the medical devices.

„Logistics specialists ensure that the devices are available on the day of the demonstration without any hitches.“
Vera Krüger | Authorised signatory for MTS Medizinischer Transport-Service

They handle the installation, return transport service, refurbishment and reintegration in the pool of devices, including regular servicing and minor repairs.

„Manufacturers of medical devices are experts with regard to their products, but do not always have the logistical experience to efficiently manage a pool of devices.“
Vera Krüger | Authorised signatory for MTS Medizinischer Transport-Service

By using external logistics specialists who have focused on meeting the needs of the medical equipment sector, manufacturers can save their own resources and reduce the costs that would be incurred if they organised their demonstration business in-house.

‘Specialised logistics experts for the medical sector have access to their own technicians to perform checks on devices, maintenance and minor repairs. They can usually manage logistics processes more cost-effectively – e.g. by means of having muti-user warehouse capacity and pool vehicles, which are necessary to safely transport and handle sensitive and heavy medical devices. They also have the necessary transport equipment such as lifting platforms or guide rails,’ Vera Krüger adds. Logistics specialists with global operations can also scale demo pool services more simply, if required, offer cross-border operations and guarantee a consistently high quality level.

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Rhenus High Tech manages the demonstration services for well-known manufacturers in the medical engineering sector together with its subsidiary, MTS Medizinischer Transport-Service.

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At a glance: use the demo pool leaflet produced by Rhenus High Tech to discover the advantages that you can achieve by having a skilled logistics partner at your side. 

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Logistics solutions for medical devices require specialist know-how. Professional handling is crucial for storage, transport, positioning and assembly at the place of use.

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