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Improving central medical store stock management in Mozambique with radio frequency devices

An efficient, up-to-date information system is critical to managing the more than 1,500 products housed at the Central de Medicamentos e Artigos Médicos (CMAM), the central medical store in Mozambique.

CMAM is responsible for procuring, storing, and distributing medicines and related supplies to more than 24 million people. In 2010 SCMS and the USAID | DELIVER PROJECT installed MACS, a commercial, off-the-shelf warehouse management system (WMS), in CMAM’s Zimpeto Central Warehouse.

Once the Zimpeto Central Warehouse team mastered the basic functions of MACS, they were ready to take their warehouse management to the next level. To improve efficiency, SCMS procured ruggedized handheld radio frequency (RF) barcode readers that wirelessly connect to MACS from the warehouse floor. In July 2013, SCMS helped train 12 Zimpeto warehouse staff to use the RF devices.

The RF devices are used to scan bar codes on wrapped pallets at different warehouse locations, which allows CMAM staff to instantly retrieve product information from every location. In addition to speeding the time to process orders, RF devices:

• Enable faster stock counts
• Speed pallet movements within the warehouse
• Locate missing/misplaced products by ensuring that the right pallet is in the right location

Automating these processes reduces human errors in stock counting, which in turn boosts warehouse performance by improving stock accuracy.

Before RF devices were installed, the warehouse had difficulty managing stock and locating warehoused products; it could take more than five hours to move a maximum of 60 pallets compared to the 30 minutes it now takes. The use of RF in Zimpeto has brought benefits not only in reducing staff level of effort in conducting their daily activities, but in reducing the money spent on resources used in the warehouse.

“Personally, I am benefiting from using RFs. I am able to do my inventory within a short period of time. I can also count and confirm stock using RF handheld devices at the click of a button. I use RF more than anyone else in the warehouse and I am looking forward to promoting its use and sharing my knowledge with my colleagues,” said Helena dos Muchangos, Inventory Coordinator - CMAM. SCMS and the USAID | DELIVER PROJECT continue to support CMAM´s use of RF in the Zimpeto Central Warehouse and plan to expand its use to additional
warehouses in the Beira Region.