STORAGE SOLUTIONS & INVENTORY CONTROL - PART II

MAY 20, 2008


CAROLYN PHILLIPS: Hello everyone. We're really

glad that you're with us today and very excited about

working on this second part, part II of storage solutions.

And we're actually going to be talking about inventory

control also.

I'm very excited that Paraquad and Carla Walker and

her whole group have joined us for today's session and

looking forward to moving the conversation forward when it

comes to storage and storage solutions and all the issues

around that.

And our topic today, which is storage and

inventory-related issues, hopefully giving you some real

solutions, things that you can really walk away and say,

"Yeah, that was really worth my time, and I'm going to do

things a little differently." And that's good.

I wanted to just tag on to what Caroline Van Howe

said, which is the ATIA workshops, the strand that we're

going to be doing. We're very excited about that strand

and received really wonderful evaluations. We received

those the other day in the mail. And so it looked like

that the strand was a big success.

And we wanted to give y'all an opportunity to

actually present with us. If you have some presentation

ideas or if you wanted to present at ATIA within the reuse

strand, please go ahead and send that presentation to us

also so that we can be looking for it, and we can work

together. If you have some idea, we'd be happy to talk

with you in more detail about all of that. So it's very

exciting.

Our agenda today is focused pretty much on storage

solutions and inventory control, as I said. I'm going to

be going through a few things just trying to lay a

foundation here for you.

And Heather Young, when we were at ATIA, actually

had this great idea about us framing our webinars in the

framework of looking at policies then procedures then

practices. So we've restructured our webinars that way,

and this is really informing our national task force on the

work that we're doing with our study groups.

So, Heather, thank you very much for that great

idea.

So I'm going to be covering some of that. And then

I'm going to turn it over to Carla and Paraquad, her

wonderful staff there, and they'll be talking to us about

their inventory system and storage solutions, things that

they've come up with. And we'll have a time for questions

and answers -- hopefully answers. And then she'll turn it

back to me looking to implement your effective storage and

all of that.

So our next slide is actually just reminding us all

that -- our definitions and what we're going to be looking

at when we're talking about storage solutions. We really

are looking in the area of reassignment, redistribution or

refurbishing.

So what that means is that you're actually

accepting the assistive technology. You've got your hands

on this assistive technology. You're sanitizing it, you're

cleaning it up, identifying appropriate users, and then

matching it to that new consumer and hopefully training the

person.

I know the NEAT Exchange up in New England is just

amazing at the way that they do a lot of this, and

hopefully we're going to have them help us by sharing some

of their solutions, too, in another webinar looking at how

they carry out this process.

So we're talking about reassignment,

redistribution. And then refurbishing is actually similar

to reassignment but in addition ... (audio skipped) ... to

restoring the AT to its original configuration.

So the reason why you would -- we would need to be

talking about inventory and storage today is because of

these two, possibly three, depending on how you break it

out, major activities. So reassignment, redistribution,

and refurbishing.

The next slide, it actually talks more about the

policies and defining what we're actually talking about

with policies. So basically, when we're talking about

policies, we're talking about a plan of action adopted by

your program. And it defines the rationale for pursuing

particular functions or actions or activities. It's a

statement on how you actually are going to achieve your

goals and objectives. So it's an overarching goal or

overarching statement on how you're going to achieve your

goal or objectives.

So after I define policies, I wanted to share some

of the policies that you might want to consider. So here

are some of the policies that I would encourage you to

think about when it comes to storage.

And they include: Having a policy actually written

down in your policy manual about what equipment you are

accepting. And so I would get very specific with that.

Are you accepting working or not working equipment? Are

you accepting equipment that's -- after a certain date,

you're not going to accept that equipment any more? What

items are you not accepting? Are you not accepting things

like ventilators, air -- oxygen tanks, things like that?

What are some prohibited items that you definitely

are not going to accept and ... (audio skipped) ...

informed about that.

And then, when you're figuring out, you know, what

you're accepting and what you're not accepting, how are you

going to actually store the items that you're accepting?

I've walked through several of y'all's warehouses

and places where you're storing equipment, and a lot of you

have done such a good job. And I think we always have room

for improvement.

And so paying attention to, you know, those

policies of how we're actually storing the equipment; where

we're storing it; you know, is it safe? So having a policy

around that, around where the equipment is stored and the

actual layout.

The next slide actually takes us to thinking about

how is your equipment processed? If it's stored, do you

have maybe a color-coding system of how you're storing

things? I've been into some of your warehouses where you

actually put -- you know, green is for everything that is

ready to go out, and it's all matched, and you have that

absolutely separate.

Then red equipment, maybe that needs to be cleaned.

And then, you know, that's tagged with maybe a red sticker

or with red tags or something like that. So how is it

processed? How is your equipment tracked? And I'd make

sure you have a policy around that.

How is it placed in your storage? Also, how is it

cleaned and sanitized? And it does definitely fit with

storage because we want to make sure that things are not

touching or they're not in the same area if they're not

clean.

Also, what is your policy around who handles the

equipment? Do you have people maybe lifting wheelchairs

off of racks and -- you know, and who are those folks that

are doing that? Who is actually putting the tires on walls

if you have them hanging up on walls or if you -- you know,

how are you handling that, and who's actually handling

that?

Then also looking at safety and what are your

safety policies around storage? And we can actually point

you to some really good information when it comes to

safety.

Also considering storage, figuring out who's

allowed in your work space when it comes to, you know, do

you want folks just randomly going through where you're

storing equipment? You know, is that necessarily a good

idea? And if you don't want people doing that, then maybe

put a policy in place around that.

And then if you do want people going into your

storage area, is it accessible? And so making sure that

you have a policy around that that's covering you.

The next slide actually takes us in looking a

little deeper into procedures. And what we mean, once

again, when we're talking about procedures, is a

step-by-step description of how your activity is being

conducted.

So it's a series of steps or instructions

describing the way to do things. And this really makes

sense when we're talking about storage and inventory

because a lot of that, if you're really covering yourself

and you're really doing a good job, then you do have those

things written down; they're following your policy, your

overarching statement or overarching policy; and all of

this is helping you with your goals and meet your

objectives.

So some of the procedures that we want to make sure

that you're thinking about when it comes to storage is what

is your step-by-step way of accepting equipment? Who puts

their hands on it first? Do you put stickers on at that

point? Do you number it? Do you enter it into your

inventory system? Or does it go to a triage? You know,

how are you accepting the equipment?

How do you reject equipment? There's one group

that we've worked with who actually -- in their policies,

they define what equipment they don't accept; and within

their procedures, they actually gave step-by-step

instructions of how to politely reject equipment. And I

thought that was very cool the way they handled that. So,

you know, giving resources and things like that of what

people could do with equipment that's been rejected.

Then also looking at the storage procedures and

figuring out step by step, you know, what's the process?

What are the instructions that you want somebody to follow

when it comes to how the equipment is stored and where it's

stored? And this is where you get very detailed.

So the next slide actually talks in more detail

about how the equipment is actually being processed and how

it's placed in storage and, once again, what are your

step-by-step instructions when it comes to cleaning it or

sanitizing it and also figuring out safety and looking at

that in great detail and figuring out what is your plan

for -- you know, what are your instructions around that?

We want to talk about practices because we talk

about the policies, those overarching policies, and then

those procedures, which are things that you're actually

going to put into place, hopefully, you know, all those

instructions that you're writing out.

Some of those instructions actually we're making

available on the Pass It On Web site -- Pass It On Center

Web site. Trish Redmon, who's been working with us in

developing some products, has done a great job in helping

us develop some of these products and these procedures.

And so you'll have access to those soon. We've got some of

you actually reviewing some of these procedures for us,

which is great.

And now we actually want to talk about practices.

Now, practices are really -- it's a case study looking

specifically at the techniques and methodologies,

procedures, processes that are being used actively realtime

in an organization or in -- with a certain activity or

within a certain center.

So we're going to actually get to have that

experience right now with Paraquad. We can go on to the

next slide. And we want to thank Carla, Kim, and Mike from

Paraquad, who are going to actually walk us through their

process, first looking at inventory control and then

looking at storage solutions. And then they'll turn it

back over to me, and we'll have time for questions and

answers right after Carla, Kim, and Mike talk and then also

after I talk.

So Carla and Kim and Mike, take it away.

CARLA WALKER: All right. Thanks for having us,

Carolyn.

Please let us know in the public-chat area if

you're having any difficulty hearing us, and we'll try and

pay close attention to that. And we'll also have a

question-answer session kind of at the end of our part

before we move on.

So I'm going to give just a brief introduction of

our program, and we'll each introduce ourselves.

My name is Carla Walker, and I'm an occupational

therapist by trade. And I'm the director of assistive

technology at Paraquad, which is an independent living

center.

I believe we're the only independent living center

among the 12 grantees. And our program is called AT

Reutilization Program For Independent Living. And I serve

as the program director on that.

And Carrie Morgan is our principal investigator,

who kind of handles the research side and outcome-measure

side of things as well.

So today we're going to talk a little bit about

what we've gone through and what we've learned as far as

tracking our inventory. And really that was one of the

first things that we did.

You can go to the next slide.

... (audio skipped) ... '06 we realized that it was

very intricate, all the details of -- like Carolyn said,

what are you going to accept and how are you going to track

all that?

So we, at the time, could not find a database that

really fit our particular needs of the types of equipment

that we were receiving and the information that we wanted.

So we actually created an Access database for the

reutilization program.

And I'm going to have -- Kim Walker is going to

talk to you about the details of that, which has really

served us very well for the reutilization program.

But now we have added a component to our program

which is a repair services program -- and Mike Freehill is

going to talk to you about what we're doing with that --

which is requiring us to transition to a more in-depth

database.

And to avoid duplicating efforts, we've decided

that we are going to really merge everything into one

database, that being the new Brightree system.

However, I think you'll find -- if any of you are

looking at different database options, some of you may find

that a more basic database like the Access -- if you're

simply doing reuse. If you are getting repairs or any type

of billing, then the Brightree system might be something

for you to consider.

Access database is something that, like I said, we

created and have used. And Brightree is a database that

you can purchase. So I'm going to let Kim talk about the

details of our Access database.

KIM WALKER: Thank you, Carla.

My name is Kim Walker, and no relation to Carla

Walker, but we do work in the same building. I am the

day-to-day supervisor for the AT reutilization program that

functions underneath the grant. And I've had a lot of

experience with our Access database.

Basically the Access database can be developed

through Microsoft. It's part of the Office Suite package.

We've designed it to match our needs. And so for our

individual programs, you might find that what we have is

not exactly what you would need. But like I say, it's

fairly easy to change and adapt to what you may need.

The program, in its simplicity, basically allows

you to manage databases. And that was -- when we started

our program for the reutilization, we found that we really

needed to be able to manage our inventory, manage the

recipients who were receiving the inventory. So that's how

it came to be.

You can create and design as many databases as you

need. And the technology -- or the terminology, I should

say, that comes through Microsoft, the databases are made

up of objects. And some of the objects that we used were

tables, forms, and queries. And in the next couple of

slides I'll talk about some of those.

So go ahead and move on to the next slide, please.

So the first two things I want to talk about

through Access are the tables and the forms. The tables

allow the information to be entered and stored into the

database. And the forms allow the data to be edited. So

if you're entering say a new device into your inventory

table, then you would use a form to do that.

Our program utilizes three tables and three forms.

One table each and one form each for intake, which is

incoming equipment; one for donations, so we track who our

donors are and what equipment they donated; and then for

the recipients, so who received the equipment that we

intook.

Thank you.

So this is just a screen shot of an example of one

of our tables. And it's the intake table, so it's

equipment only. There will be no personal information

displayed on here. Excuse me.

And as you can see, for us, we assign all of our

equipment an ID number -- a permanent ID number. And then

it will list the equipment type. And then this is an

example of some of the details you would see -- if it was a

power wheelchair, for example, it will list the make, the

model, serial number, model number, and then on it will go.

And we have those details for each type of piece of

equipment. So whether it's a scooter or a manual chair,

we'll have details that we can list in there to track the

inventory.

Next slide, please.

So the next slide that you're going to see is

actually an example of a donation form. And this is where,

if we had a donor that donated a piece of equipment, we

would be able to enter their information into, the date

that they called us, the first and last name of the donor,

their address, and a lot of demographic information.

We have a form for, like I say, the donors and the

recipients and the equipment intake. And that's all done

through Access.

Next slide, please.

And then the last section I want to talk about, as

far as Access goes, is the actual query -- so to be able to

select and combine information from the forms. And we use

our queries for recording purposes.

Through our independent living center, we are

required to complete a quarterly board report, and it

entails a lot of numbers about how many devices we have

available, how many were distributed in the last quarter,

and how many we disposed of.

And in order to pull that information out of

Access, we programmed queries so that it's easily able to

be pulled in a short amount of time, and it's not a manual

pulling of information. It can be done in a report. So

that's what the query is used for primarily for agency.

I'm sure that there's probably a lot I haven't covered, and

we'll answer questions at the end. But that kind of covers

the Access portion.

And I'm going to pass the mic along now to Mike so

that he can tell you a little about Brightree.

MIKE FREEHILL: Hi. My name is Mike Freehill. I'm

the paraservice coordinator here at Paraquad. And as we

started up the repair service center, I quickly realized

that the Access database was not enough for me to run this

department. It didn't give us all the information we were

looking for.

So I started looking online and found a couple of

different inventory maintenance databases. And one I did

find was Brightree. It's a web-based software. So we

needed no other program.

Its key point to Brightree is its billing. We do a

lot with Medicare and Medicaid and private insurances now.

And Brightree helps us move through that procedure pretty

quickly.

Also as important is I needed to be able to track

our inventory and create purchase orders and whatnot

through this database, which this answered all of our

questions.

Now, the next slide will give us a link to

Brightree. And if you guys have any questions, you can go

to the Web site. And they do have, I believe, weekly

demonstrations available. It's like an hour- or two-hour

demonstration they go through. But it gives you the whole

spiel about Brightree.

And next thing on the next slide, we were trying to

figure out -- find a database that we could use both for

the AT reutilization and the AT repair program. And the

link on this page also ... (audio skipped).

Then on the next slide there's a link -- there's a

screen shot of Brightree itself. This is our items page,

and this is how we denote our reutilization parts from our

repair parts.

So for us we use an "R-" standing for

reutilization. And we break it down by equipment, little

bit of information about the equipment by the abbreviations

and the weight of it. And then this way we can look to see

what we have in stock.

We do work with other collaborating independent

living centers, and we can look at a glance at their

inventory to see what they have there. So this is actually

a pretty good database for ... (audio skipped).

Again, if there's any questions on it, like Kim

said, I'll try to cover any others. Please let me know.

CARLA WALKER: Okay. Next slide, please.

This is Carla again. I'm going to pretty quickly

go through some pictures of our storage areas. This is

kind of a precursor to our August event that I hope y'all

go to, and we'll post information on the chat room as well.

But August 13th through 15th in St. Louis, we are

having the RSA grantee meeting here. So this is kind of a

save-the-date, and more information will be coming. And

you'll be at our facility during most of that, so you'll

see this a lot more close up and personal. So I'll quickly

go through this.

Here are pictured some of our higher shelving as

well as a way to access that and a lift type of machine.

Next slide.

The next slide shows some small storage for

chargers as well as some numbered and bagged devices. And

this is, I think, very similar to how the folks at FODAC

did their storage. And so it's nice to see duplications.

So it means that maybe we're doing something right. And

again, trying to label chargers and label things so that

people are clear what they're looking at.

The next slide basically shows our small shelving

units and the labels for those.

The next slide is just another picture of how we

would bag a device and number it.

The next slide.

The next slide you'll see Bruce Markneeler

[phonetic], which is one of our repair ... (audio skipped)

... some more labelled storage. So running a repair

service center requires an inventory of a great deal of

small parts as well as the large inventory of full pieces

of equipment. So you've got to have a pretty diverse

storage solution on that but not complicated.

The next slide.

The next slide just shows our industrial sewing

machine, which we find to be very helpful in repairing

straps and gloves and things like that. Mike keeps our

local rugby team in good gloves, which is kind of hard to

do. But anyway, we put that to use.

And again, just a picture of ... (audio

skipped) ... putting in new batteries to a scooter.

Next slide, please.

The next slide is basically just kind of a long

view of our storage area, which again you saw kind of

similar with FODAC. And it's just a good way to make use

of space.

And the next slide.

The next slide shows our small parts and tire

storage. Once again, it's just important to label and to

have concise -- I mean these are just basic hooks on the

wall that the tires hang off of. So that works well.

And then our last slide is just kind of very

long-shot view of our repair area.

And I did want to kind of mention to you all as

well that the starting of our repair services program was,

in part, part of our sustainability program for the

reutilization program.

As Mike said, Brightree helps us to bill insurance.

So we have contracts set up with Medicare and then Missouri

and Illinois Medicaid and some private insurances. So

again, it's a complete fee-for-service program, which is a

little different than how we do our reutilization program,

but, again, will help us hopefully sustain that program

beyond the life of the grant.

You can go to the last slide.

And I think we'll take just a few moments to see if

anybody has questions specific to Brightree or our Access

database or storage before Carolyn takes back the mic. And

I appreciate all of our time today. So we're going to

click off to see if anybody has any comments they'd like to

voice, or feel free to also type that as well.

CAROLYN PHILLIPS: Thank you all, Paraquad. That

was so thorough, and I really appreciate your going over

that with us and sharing your expertise.

As Carla said, if you have any questions, please go

ahead and raise your hand or type them in, and I'll release

the mic.

I did want to say that I had the great privilege of

visiting Carla and Carrie when I was in St. Louis last and

got to walk through their storage area, and it was

beautiful. It was so clean, smelled great, and I was just

so impressed.

Utah also, when I was out in Salt Lake City, had a

great opportunity to visit their reuse storage area, and it

was wonderful.

So anyway, thank you for sharing that with us,

Carla.

What questions do y'all have? It looks like Lee --

hello, Lee Learson. Good to hear from you. You asked if

the Brightree database can be adapted to individual

agencies.

So Carla?

MIKE FREEHILL: The Brightree database was actually

made for DME and HME medical companies. So for us, yes, we

were able to adapt it for our reutilization program. It's

not really designed for that. But just by playing around

with it and making things a little bit different, we were

able to adapt it for us. So it is there if you need it.

And it also allows you to do several different

reports out of it, too, which was a big plus for us.

CARLA WALKER: I'll just comment too.

As far as our Access database that we created, we'd

be happy to share that with anyone. We may need to kind of

figure out how to share kind of a ... (audio skipped) ...

template, but I'm sure that's not a hard thing to do. We'd

be happy to share that. And we'll work with Carolyn and

the Pass It On Center to make sure it's available through

the Web site or something like that. But absolutely we'd

be happy to share that.

CAROLYN PHILLIPS: Carla, I was wondering, how long

do y'all keep things in inventory, and what is your rule of

thumb as far as when you rotate things out of inventory?

CARLA WALKER: Mike and I are both looking at each

other because we continually struggle with this actually

and can really use some help on forcing ourselves to define

some things.

We find that it's not just a black-and-white issue,

so to speak, on inventory and have kind of been playing

things by ear.

We try to do, you know, a physical inventory a few

times a year to make sure that our inventory matches our

physical inventory. And we work with a recycling program

called WITS that is an environmentally safe recycling

program that we periodically purge devices to.

And then one situation that we're fortunate to have

is a relationship with an international organization called

Wheels for the World that we can distribute chairs and

metal canes, crutches, and walkers. So it's very easy for

us to push those things off in that area so that we know

they're going to be used across the world.

But it's not as rigid or as clear as we'd like to

be, and we're still working on it. So any help that any of

you all could provide us would be much appreciated.

You want to add to that?

MIKE FREEHILL: As far as equipment-wise, we pretty

much try to keep only the best of everything because we do

get a lot of donations in. So like if it's a power chair,

if it's over ten years old, we won't accept it or we'll

just strip it for parts.

Like she said, everything we don't use, we donate

to WITS, and they recycle it. Or Wheels for the World.

And then we have a pretty good relationship with them.

They give us stuff, and we donate stuff back to them. So

it works out pretty good.

CAROLYN PHILLIPS: Thank you. That's very helpful.

Also, another observation or comment is, when I was

doing a tour there and, once again, was so impressed ...

(audio skipped) ... to me, not just that it smelled nice

and, you know, it looked great, was that it was accessible.

You know, that your workstation really -- it was

adjustable, and it was very -- you were able to customize

it to the individual as opposed to -- that's volunteering

or working as opposed to having the individual have to, you

know, adjust to the workstation.

Could you address that at all? Because I thought

that was pretty unique the way that y'all had done that and

tried to arrange tools and everything so that folks could

access it easily.

KIM WALKER: So yeah. This is Kim again. And

we've had a -- I guess you could say a personal interest

there because I myself use a scooter for mobility. And

Carrie Morgan, who is our principal investigator, uses a

manual wheelchair for mobility.

So although it was important to us, besides that

fact, it became a personal issue because I need to access

my work space, and she needs to access her work space.

And as an independent living center, we're required

to have 51 percent of the staff as persons with

disabilities. So we have a lot of staff members that have

varying disabilities, and it was very important to us to

make sure that the equipment and everything is accessible.

It's just a benefit that it helps also, you know,

all the way down the line through all the recipients and

things that receive, although they're not usually in our

warehouse area. It's just been in the forefront that we

make all our spaces accessible so that we can do what we

need to do day to day.

CAROLYN PHILLIPS: Thank you. That was really

helpful and really good information. I appreciate that

explanation.

And part of the reason why I keep referring back to

the way that your warehouse and storage space smells --

because I keep getting looks from our team here -- is not

necessarily that I'm super sensitive to that, but that is

really a good indicator as to how your equipment is being

treated, how quickly you're able to get things cleaned, and

all of that.

It's actually one of those first tests that I do

when I walk into a storage space. As many of you have been

on these walks and talks with me, you'll find that out very

quickly, that I definitely smell the warehouse, and it

tells ... (audio skipped).

CARLA WALKER: Oh, hi, Carolyn. I wanted to

mention, too, one of the ... (audio skipped) ... hub scrub,

which is our sanitization machine, which probably helps it

smell so clean.

No, seriously, we have a whole area for cleaning

and sanitization that we'll take everyone on a tour of when

they come, which is really one of actually the most

important things.

We've talked a lot about inventory control and

storage and tracking. But truthfully, if your stuff isn't

clean, then you're going to get in a heap of trouble by

possibly, you know, putting someone at risk for a staph

infection or something like that. So it's really the most

important thing.

And I know y'all have had webinars to talk about

that, but we can -- we'll discuss that more, too, when

y'all come to St. Louis. But thanks.

CAROLYN PHILLIPS: This is Carolyn again. And one

of the questions that we've had, at the Pass It On Center,

to provide technical assistance is how much space do you

need when you're actually reusing these things. And so --

when you're starting a reuse program for storage.

So could y'all talk to us a little bit, Carla,

about how y'all came up with determining the space? And

that would be helpful.

And I also see, Chase, that you're having problems

with remote access ... (audio skipped) ... and we

definitely will have this archived. If y'all are having a

problem, please let us know -- the PowerPoint and we also

will have the transcript available online.

CARLA WALKER: Well, the general rule for space is,

if you have an opportunity to get some, take some, because

you will definitely find good use for it.

But we started our program actually in 2005 at our

other facility. All we had was a stairwell, believe it or

not. So you start with what you have, and you try and win

friends as well. So if you can collaborate with

organizations that have more space than they need but you

have an accessible vehicle, I think the folks -- I keep

talking about FODAC. They've just been tremendous in how

they've arranged their transportation and storage. And so

we look to them a lot.

But -- and so getting your hands on what you can.

If you're an organization, basically making sure you're at

the table when things are being discussed about formatting

for the organization or space enlargement, that you have a

vision for what you're doing. And working with other

organizations that have different things that you don't.

You can get creative and not necessarily have to pick for

space.

I know Wheels for the World manages to get

warehouse space donated. Now, they have to be willing to

be flexible and move around a lot in order to get that

donated space. But if you have vehicles that allow you to

be portable, then you can get space donated. It's just you

have to be willing to move out of it.

If it comes right down to how much space do you

need and how much should you purchase, I think that's more

of a strategic planning type of answer for your

organization.

CAROLYN PHILLIPS: Thank you so much, Carla. I

really appreciate y'all doing that. Great talk for us. It

was very helpful.

What other questions do y'all have?

TOM PATTERSON: Jamie, thank you very much for that

comment. And we are looking at how to incorporate a better

color scheme. The current scheme was more for the ease of

actually getting the PowerPoint up into the system. But we

are checking on that, and I appreciate your comment.

CAROLYN PHILLIPS: Okay. Thank you very much

everyone.

We're actually going to move on to the next few

slides, and this is going to be just more steps and more

points just when you're considering your storage and how to

arrange that and some ideas around that. So very, very

interesting stuff, so stick around.

The first slide here is actually just something I

thought about before when I'm sitting around talking with

people sometimes on the phone, sometimes face to face, and

they're telling me about their storage space.

And what I've realized is literally a ten-minute

walk through your storage space can tell much more about

your AT reuse operation than an hour in a conference room.

It's very, very true. And I'm sure that many of you have

experienced that. I know, Lee, you and I have talked about

that. It's definitely true.

So here's some more things to consider when we're

talking about looking at space and looking at storage. And

some of those things are quality indicators. And so this

is looking directly at how you design your storage space

and some of the quality indicators and some of the things

you want to consider.

So well laid out -- well planned and well laid

out layout would be very, very helpful. Looking and seeing

kind of how things flow through your reuse program. Ease

of use. Making sure that your tools are at a certain level

and that you're able to access the ones you use most often

quickly. Making sure that your equipment, as I said

before, is not touching if it's not been cleaned.

Just looking at lighting and where's the best

lighting and what kind of activities need to take place in

certain parts of your facility.

Also ... (audio skipped) ... looking at the

labeling for the parts, supplies, and tools, making sure

that all of that is well labeled, but also making sure that

it is in a position in a place that is safe. So if you

work on these things, these can really significantly

improve your effectiveness.

As many of you know, one of the first things that

we did with ReBoot -- the ReBoot computer reuse program

when we moved to a larger facility for us -- it was 12,440

square feet is what we ended up moving into -- we had a

group from Georgia Tech come over. And they spent a whole

semester working with us on these types of issues.

And it definitely increased the overall feel and

ease of doing the reuse work for our volunteers and for our

staff. It also significantly -- and you could actually

tell that it increased the turnaround time. So that was

very exciting.

The next slide actually is talking about how to

make things more efficient and more quality indicators, if

you will.

So laying out the storage area for increased

effectiveness sometimes does mean giving up storage space.

And that may not make a whole bunch of sense to folks

because they're like, "Oh, what do you mean about -- if we

lay this out, how are we giving up space?"

But actually that often happens. Because if you're

actually laying it out in a way that makes sense for the

flow of your program and for the accessibility of your

volunteers and your staff, then sometimes that does mean

you have to give up some space in order to make some things

a little smoother.

So before you can redesign for faster flow, you

might need to reduce the items in storage and free up that

space. And I would actually encourage y'all to do this at

least annually but perhaps biannually, you know, twice a

year where you're ... (audio skipped) ... cleaning out.

You know, not just having a spring cleaning but maybe a

spring and fall cleaning.

And I would also encourage you to create a process

map or equipment flowchart where you are literally tagging

pieces of equipment and seeing how those pieces of

equipment flow through your process, physically flow

through. How long do they stay in your process? If there

are snags in your process, where are those snags? And just

tracking where this equipment is going.

The next slide actually looks at some more of these

tips, if you will. And what I would encourage you to do is

start looking at your inventory profiles and removing

obsolete stock. That's very important. And looking at

things that -- some of you actually have a policy where it

says that you're going to get rid of something that doesn't

move within three months.

I've seen other people that have policies that say,

if it's not out of here in six months, then we move it on

to Wheelchairs for the World or to a computer-recycling

operation or what have you, depending on what's

appropriate.

Transferring or cleaning out slow-moving equipment,

it's very important, and I would encourage you to do it. I

know sometimes it's hard to let go of some of that

equipment, but you find that it actually doesn't make a

difference to be able to have more space.

So avoid placing equipment in areas where it could

obstruct movement. I know sometimes it's easy just to put

equipment wherever, you know, just put it anywhere. And

I've walked into some warehouses where that's really how

they operate.

But it's one of those things of working smarter,

not harder, and working in an environment where everyone

can move about and making sure that that's pretty

important, that you're not obstructing movement.

Once you've identified the fast-moving items, then

it will help you examine your layout and actually determine

what other storage space you have.

Sometimes I've been surprised when I walk into some

warehouses, and they've gotten so creative with the way

that they're storing things. They go up, you know, onto

walls. And they get very creative, just like FODAC has and

just like NEAT has. Just like Salt Like City, the Create

program out there, where they're using bends just like we

saw with Paraquad where they've been very organized, and

they're using just a very organized approach. And they've

labeled things, and it's moving forward.

So the next slide takes us further into this.

And it looks like we have a question. Let's see.

Jamie Cram [phonetic] is asking, "What do you do with

equipment after you've cleaned out a storage unit?"

And, Jamie, are you talking about equipment that

you would use or that you wouldn't use or -- if it's

equipment that you're definitely not going to use, then I

would get in touch with an end-of-lifer and scrap it. I

would -- it depends on what type of equipment you're

referring to.

And is that what you're referring to, Jamie?

Okay. So that's the approach I would take is make

sure that you establish a good relationship with an

end-of-life recycler and somebody who can scrap, you know,

those parts and maybe even give you cash back.

Paraquad, do y'all have any suggestions for that?

CARLA WALKER: For recyclers? Yeah, we developed a

relationship with an environmentally sound recycler that

does give us cash back for the devices. I guess the only

thing we don't do through them is our battery recycling,

which we actually go through our battery company for.

Our priority on that was finding a place that was

relatively nearby, that was environmentally sound. And the

cash was kind of a perk.

CAROLYN PHILLIPS: Thank you, Carla. That's very

helpful. And it's nice to know that you're actually making

money. That's when we're talking about diversifying

funding streams.

Would you say that that actually has covered some

of your costs?

And, Jamie, just to answer your question, even in

your small operations I have found that ... (audio

skipped) ... you know, which is fine also ... (audio

skipped). So it's just a matter of figuring out what works

best for you.

CARLA WALKER: I would say the money is not huge.

It probably covers our staff time and the gas to go over

there. We have quite a good fleet of transportation, so we

choose to transport things over there. If we didn't, they

would charge us to come pick it up.

So I would say it easily covers the cost of the

employees' time and the gas that we spend, the wear and

tear on the vehicle, but not a whole lot more than that.

CAROLYN PHILLIPS: All right. Well, that's

helpful.

And I hope that that answered your question, Jamie.

So we'll move forward. The next slide that I've

got up here is actually something that I -- as I'm going

through warehouses and all of that, that I think about

this. So what would your mom say about your storage space?

It kind of reminds me of what would my -- sometimes when

I'm looking at my desk, and I'm overwhelmed, and it's all

crowded, I'm like, "What would my mama say about this?"

So I would encourage you to think about that. Not

necessarily your mom, but what would somebody say if

they're coming into your storage space? And is it clean?

Is it some place that people would actually want to spend

time?

Because you've got volunteers that are there that

are working a long time and -- or you've got paid staff

working a long time. And making sure that it's a safe

environment.

Which leads us to our steps to high-productive

storage for AT reuse. And here's just some things that I

would like you to think about.

The first thing is, I want you to think about

safety. Safety first. So is your staff safe? Have you

stored things in a way that makes sense? That they're not

going to get hurt if something falls? Have you considered

how much maybe those batteries weigh?

I was in a warehouse ... (audio skipped) ...

stacked up on shelves, and the shelf was really giving way

and -- because they hadn't considered how much the

batteries weigh. And it was not a great environment to put

those batteries -- or the way to store those batteries.

Another example of that is looking at the way that

people are storing tires. A lot of people who are working

with wheel mobility, they have a big need to store tires.

And making sure that the way that you're storing them, if

you are hanging them on a pole, you know, in -- on a wall

in your warehouse, that that pole can actually handle that

weight and just paying attention to that.

So considering ergonomics and making sure that

you're designing with those principles in mind, very

important. And we have some slides that we can actually

send you or some suggestions that we can give you when it

comes to that.

And making sure that the equipment is easy to reach

and that the picker, if you -- that's often what I think

about when I'm thinking about that somebody who's actually

going in to pick out the equipment that's going to be

matched to a person ultimately -- that the equipment is

laid out in a way that it fits the task to a picker instead

of making the picker adapt to a poorly designed storage

area. So does it make sense? Do they know where to pick

the equipment from?

We had a group that we were working with where the

person kept picking equipment out of an area that wasn't

sanitized. And looking at whose responsibility really is

that to make sure that it is clearly marked.

So the next slide actually talks more about safety.

And it actually gives you some resources. So I have come

across all kinds of resources when it comes to ergonomics,

best practices, and OSHA.

The OSHA Web site actually has some excellent tools

and good resources, some case studies and operating

guidelines when it comes to ergonomics. Also the National

Institute of Occupational Safety and Health Web site has a

very good document downloadable, and it's the "Elements of

Ergonomics." And that's a very cool document also.

On the next page, the Stone Wheeled Works, they

provide free downloadable ergonomics analysis tools. And

so I would encourage you to check those out too. I did

that not terribly long ago, and I thought it was helpful.

And then also Washington State's Department of

Labor and Industry has some helpful advice on their Web

site in regards to ergonomics.

The next slide talks more about safety. And it's

looking specifically at your consumers and your customers,

people who are coming in and making sure that the equipment

that you're giving out, that you have been responsible on

the way that you're storing it, that you're paying

attention to where it's placed in your facility.

And if you don't have a triage station, then I

would encourage you to actually do that. A place that's

not necessarily within where you're storing your equipment

but a place where you're making those decisions of where

this piece of equipment would go.

Does it need to be repaired? Does it need to be

repaired and sanitized? Does it need to be repaired,

sanitized, and then moved on? Does it need to be stripped?

Does it need to be ultimately recycled? And just making

those decisions.

And I said it, and I'll say it again. Making sure

that you don't place your sanitized -- the cleaned

equipment next to equipment that's just coming in. That's

a big no-no.

Paraquad does a really good job of organizing that.

And Project MEND in San Antonio has done a very good job.

And part of the reason why they did a good job when I

asked, you know, "How did you know do to this?" it's

actually mandated by law in Texas. And I thought that was

very interesting that they have to have a triage. They

have to have it set up so that the equipment is cleaned.

So another thing that I want you to think about

when it comes to thinking about safety is making sure that

you are getting rid of flammable materials such as

batteries and soiled and oily rags in an environmentally

way [sic] but also in a way that won't cause a fire.

There wasn't terribly long ago that some folks were

transporting a bunch of old monitors, and they started to

fall. And one of them blew up, and glass went everywhere.

And that can happen.

And so it's important to pay attention. And these

were old, old monitors. But it's important to be careful

about the way you're disposing of these materials but also

how you're storing them.

Making sure that chemicals -- that you actually let

some folks know what chemicals you're using to clean

materials with and also paying attention to -- because a

lot of people have allergies to certain chemicals.

And I would also encourage you to keep chemicals in

their original containers. That way you know what to do if

there is an incident. I've seen where people actually will

divide up these containers and put them in generic

containers, and you don't really know what chemicals are

being used.

And sometimes those chemicals have a reaction to

each other. So you may not want to mix and match those.

So I would encourage you not to do that.

The next slide, once again considering

accessibility. Diving a little deeper into this, one of

the warehouses that I was in not terribly long ago actually

used pictures and -- when they were using their signs, but

they also used pictures. And that told more of the story

of -- not just -- it wasn't just a marketing thing of how

their storage was laid out but also it gave people an idea

of how things should be organized, you know, which way to

put the tires on the wall for storage, how they wanted the

batteries to face outward instead of inward.

And they used pictures to do all of this. And that

was a very helpful way of explaining how they want their

warehouse to operate. But it also opened up the doors for

more people to work there and to volunteer there because it

wasn't dependent upon them understanding English. And I

thought that was a very creative way to get around that.

They actually had several folks -- I said, "Well,

why did y'all do this?" And they said that they did it

because they had two folks that were deaf. And obviously

they were using A.S.L. -- well, maybe not obviously -- but

they were using A.S.L., and the pictures actually helped

explain some things a little more clearly. So very

creative.

The next point that I would like to throw out there

for you to consider as we're talking about making

productive use of your storage is considering the

temperature. There are certain parts of this country that

get super duper hot, as anyone in Louisiana, Florida, you

know, Georgia -- actually anywhere pretty much now with

global warming -- could tell you. And there are places

that get really, really cold. And that does have an impact

on our equipment. And it has an impact on battery life.

It has an impact on the way that electronics operate.

And so I would urge you to pay attention to

temperatures and figure out if there are highs and lows.

And you can do that very easily by putting, you know, just

a thermometer in your warehouse or in your storage area and

seeing -- you know, just documenting that.

The next slide, actually No. 6, gives us some more

detail when it comes to planning for the future. And what

I mean by that, when it comes to your storage, is actually

plan for that equipment to get better, and plan for more

equipment to come in.

And we're seeing again and again and we're hearing

from people where they're getting newer equipment, better

equipment. And so I would encourage you to hold that

clear-out day. You know, go ahead and get volunteers in.

I know in Atlanta we have a Hands-On Atlanta Day

where you can recruit a significant number of volunteers

and have them come in and declutter and reorganize. You

can sell or give away unneeded items, things like that.

Also anticipate future storage needs. Pay

attention to what assistive technology is coming through,

what's being developed right now. And go ahead and start

thinking about, "Well, gosh. I'm going to start getting

some of this equipment in." I can't wait until somebody

gets a Segway. That's one of the things that I keep

looking for is one of those Segways to come through or any

number of other, you know, different equipment.

As y'all know, flat-screen monitors -- we're seeing

more and more flat-screen monitors. So a lot of people

developed their reuse programs for these huge monitors, and

now they're getting smaller and smaller and smaller and

thinner and thinner and thinner. So, you know, it's just a

different need for their storage.

So, also, I would consider your storage

possibilities whenever you purchase or add a piece of

furniture. So ... (audio skipped) ... buying a shelf,

think about how you can actually use that shelf for storage

not just today but make sure that it's flexible and it can

adjust for future needs.

And then same thing with a desk. If you buy a new

desk, you know, that you're going to be using in your

warehouse or as a repair station, what storage potentials

does it have? Can you store upward on that? Does it have

drawers that you can use? So think about that.

Tom actually does a lot of research, and we're very

thankful for that. And he actually found this Web site,

shipwire.com. I would encourage you to check them out and

just kind of see what they have to offer, just as something

else that's out there. They actually do transportation,

but they actually have storage opportunities too. And so

you might want to check out and see if maybe this is

something that you can use in the future.

And it looks like, Heather, you might have a

question. So I'm going to take a break here. And if any

of you have a question, feel free to jump in.

Oh, okay. All right, Heather. Sorry about that.

We thought we saw your hand go up.

So the next step that I would encourage you to

consider is to observe, measure, and document your storage,

just like I said early, early on, but it bears repeating.

Take a fresh look at your storage. Find out where

people and technology is just sitting idle as they wait for

access for pick slots and storage locations. Document your

labor flow and also your equipment flow.

The next slide is where you actually are analyzing

your reuse data. And this is where I would encourage you

to really pay attention to your yearly data, if you're

looking at it yearly, and seeing what it is that people are

actually using and what it is that they're not using.

And, you know, some folks have, for example,

started using PDAs, the personal digital assistants. So

they're reusing BlackBerries and Palms and Treos and all of

that. And so if they're reusing that and all of them have

gone out, then why not grow in that area and see if that's

an area that your consumers want you to grow in, your

customers want you to grow in. And just see, you know,

what needs to happen.

So I would encourage you to profile your inventory

and shipment data and then also look at your data in

general and see what's being used.

Okay. No. 9 is where you really need to -- and I

would encourage you -- I can't even tell you how important

this is -- is to get input and develop recommendations from

your users who are, you know, receiving your equipment.

And also get input from people who are volunteering, who

are repairing the equipment, people who are donating your

equipment. You know, seeing if your process is easy for

folks to gain access to.

Just like Jamie brought up, that it's been hard

sometimes to reject equipment. Well, maybe talk to them

about what would be helpful? What would you like to hear

as a reasonable explanation of why we can't accept the

equipment?

So ask for input and also develop recommendations

including quick fixes and short- and long-term solutions.

So figuring out, if you get a large donation in, you know,

how can you accommodate for that? Ask your volunteers and

your technicians, your paid staff, "What would you like to

see change in our storage area?"

And a lot of times you'll find that people

really -- they have brilliant ideas. My team here kids me

all the time because I say that we're collectively

brilliant. But I really believe it and that the solutions

do lie within this organization, your organization. You

just need to ask. And that's really what it boils down to.

So determine your space, your labor, your

equipment, cost requirements for each recommendation.

Sometimes you'll find that the costs will ultimately pay

for itself.

I found that again and again when I was working

with the ReBoot program hands on on a daily basis. People

would suggest, "Oh, we need this certain type of rack."

For example, somebody wanted a baker's rack. It was $175.

Probably one of the best buys we ever made because you

could wheel it around, and it was industrial, and it could

handle the weight. So we ended up buying several of those

because they were very accessible; they were very friendly;

they were durable. And they still are going at it, which

is great. So ask and get the input from folks.

No. 10 of our steps to highly productive storage is

evaluate the options; prioritize your storage; and, you

know, look at all the different options that are out there

after you've evaluated your safety, cost, ease of

implementation, ease of operation. And then prioritize

those things and figure out what works best for y'all and

what's going to make the most sense after your evaluation.

And then, as I said, many layout-based storage

solutions pay for themselves in less than a year. A lot of

times, when I'm wandering through warehouses, I ask people,

"Well, how much did that shelf cost?" or, "How much did

that desk cost?" or, you know, "How much did it cost to

implement this new change," or, "this hub scrub," or, "Euro

Cleaner?" "How much is that going to cost?"

And you end up finding that a lot of these

solutions do pay for themselves in less than a year in

saving not just time but also frustration that some of your

team might be experiencing.

So the next slide is actually selecting and

verifying the best design, identifying the weaknesses that

might be inherent in the design, and testing what-if

scenarios. Just like I said just a few minutes ago, what

if you get a huge donation? I know there's a -- FODAC

recently received several -- well, actually several

truckloads of wheelchairs and durable medical equipment

because a vendor went out of business, and they received

all this equipment. Same thing happened in Salt Lake City.

As y'all know, a lot of things are happening on a

federal level and -- when it comes to funding of equipment,

and a lot of policies are changing, and people are going

out of business. And so I would make sure that you are

positioned to be able to take that equipment if that does

happen -- unfortunately, if it happens -- in your state or

in your community.

And see if your design would actually accommodate

that. Are you ready? Are you poised to take big

donations? Are you positioned to take unique donations

where you could actually make some money or generate some

funds off of a certain donation? So paying attention to

some of those things really can help you.

So implementing your design. And this is really

something that takes a phased-in approach. I made the

mistake early on -- this was several years ago -- of

implementing a design change in a weekend. I went in with

some people, and we changed it up, and we were like,

"Surprise," when everybody got to work on Monday. And

people were mad.

So it was not nearly as smooth as we would have

thought and definitely was a surprise really to us as

opposed to a pleasant surprise for everyone.

So now what I've learned is it's important to pace.

Print out our design. Run it through folks. Let them see

it. Post it. And really get folks to buy into this, and

then phase it in. Really take time to phase this in as

opposed to doing it all in one weekend because you

definitely don't want to have the surprise that I had.

The next slide is actually talking about evaluating

and evolve. And I know a lot of you have heard me say

this, and I really believe it, that, if you're proactive

and you're really evaluating what your organization is

doing and you're really open to the solutions, then you can

evolve, and you actually end up growing with your program.

And I think that a lot of times we do get stuck

into this mind-set of, "Oh, we only reuse this type of

computer. We only reuse Macintoshes. We only reuse this

type of durable equipment. We specialize in Jazzy chairs,"

or what have you.

And you really need to think about -- you know,

think about all the things we just said when it comes to

storage; think about all those things we just said when it

comes to figuring out your inventory; and really being

proactive in your storage solution and growing with your

program.

I see technology as getting smaller and smaller. I

know that a lot of you see that. So I think, if we're

really paying attention to what it is that our consumers

need and what our customers are asking for, then we'll find

that we do have to change our mind-sets and really have to

grow.

Way back when we were first starting ReBoot, the

first things -- the only computer we were really getting in

was a 286. And thank God we grew, you know, that we said,

"Oh, okay. Well, we'll change with the times." Because,

as y'all know, the 286 is not worth much now. And so it's

important just to pay attention and realize that your

program is an ever-evolving program.

The good thing we do have is that we can pay

attention to what technology is coming down and make

adjustments in our storage for -- in our needs and our

program needs for the future.

So those are just some of the thoughts that I

wanted to leave you with. I wanted to see if y'all had any

other questions and definitely want to thank you, really

thank you, thank you for your time and interest in this.

So I'll pause here to see if you have any

questions.

And once again, wanted to thank Paraquad. Y'all

did a great job with your presentation. It was very

thoughtful the way you pulled it together and also

appreciate you presenting it. Very thought provoking.

And, Tom, thank you for all your help in pulling

this together.

So what questions do y'all have?

And also, I know we've got some experts that are

out there who could share some information.

And I'm not sure -- Lee, if you want to share

something or Sarah or Bob, any of y'all, feel free to jump

in.

Okay. Carla, do you have anything that you want to

finish?

Actually, Lee popped in with a question. She

wanted to know what the cost is of Brightree.

CARLA WALKER: Mike stepped out, but I think I've

got it here. The set-up cost was around $4,000. And the

yearly cost to have three users at a time is about $8,000.

So you can set up the number of users that you need. So

it's a pretty healthy fee of about $12,000, at least in

that first year, to get up and running and then, you know,

the maintenance fees.

But if you are doing clinical billing, we actually

thought we were going to have to work with a third-party

biller and basically provide them a certain percentage of

our incoming dollars. And with Brightree, we're able to do

it ourselves.

CAROLYN PHILLIPS: Okay. Thank you, Carla.

And, Sarah, thank you very much. I appreciate your

comment there that the presentation has been very

interesting.

Hopefully -- it's definitely -- it is very

interesting because we do find that storage is where a lot

of people do end up having some major issues. It's one of

those hidden things that a lot of people don't pay a whole

lot of attention to, but it's one of those issues that can

overrun your program if you don't really have a thoughtful

approach about it.

So anybody else have any other questions or

comments, things that they want to share?

Thank you, Martha. I appreciate your comment about

the presentation.

And, Jamie, I think that you just said here,

"especially the lack of storage." And that definitely can

be an issue. No doubt. And this is where we would

encourage, you know, folks to get really creative. And

we'd be happy to work with you to think about ways that you

can address some of the storage issues that you might be

facing.

So I know that y'all had a bunch of equipment come

your way, and I'm sure that was overwhelming. So I'm sure

that storage has definitely been on your mind.

What other questions do you have or comments that

anybody else would like to make?

Okay. Well, thank you all.

And thank you again, Paraquad. Y'all did a great

job, as I said.

Our next presentation -- next webinar -- is going

to be June 17th. We're going to be actually looking at

organizational operations. And it's part of our policy

series. So we'd encourage you to jump online with us and

meet us here back in this room in our webinar space, and

we'll be addressing some of those issues.

We also will be talking in the future about PC and

PDA repair. And Bob Rust, who's with Touch the Future,

Inc., and now working with the Star Network and ReBoot and

FODAC, is going to be joining us for that.

And also Jim Lynch, who many of you know is the

person who has really worked with Tech Soup and has done

quite a bit when it comes to PC reuse -- he definitely will

be joining us also. So we'll be getting that information

out to you.

And wanted to also get an idea from y'all, if you

have any ideas of other webinars that you'd like to see us

do in the next fiscal year, let us know. We're going to be

setting up that calendar very quickly, and we've got some

ideas ourselves.

So anyway, keep in touch, and let us know if

there's anything we can do to help you. Y'all take care.

CARLA WALKER: Thanks, Carolyn.