Inventory Management

How Businesses Track PPE Using Sortly’s Inventory App

June 18, 2020 • 7 min read

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way our customers have used inventory, and Sortly has adapted right along with them. In response to COVID-19, nearly every business has rewritten its standard operating procedures to keep employees, customers and the community at large as safe as possible. 

We sat down for a (virtual, of course) chat with four Sortly customers to find out precisely how they’re using our inventory management software to carefully audit and track personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, gloves, shields and more. 

Emergency Medical Services Company Uses Sortly to Track Essential PPE on Ambulances

NJ | Mobile HealthCare (NJMHC) is an emergency medical services and ambulance transportation provider. Our Sortly team chatted with logistics technician Griffin Endress about how his organization has been using Sortly to track PPE and other inventory.

“We operate up to 15 ambulances,” said Griffin. “So that’s a lot of medical equipment that needs to be tracked. So we use it for inventory tracking in a pretty straightforward way. But we also assign each item a barcode. If one of our crews uses up all of their gloves, our supervisor can come scan that barcode. It will bring them right to that exact item in Sortly.”

Sortly has been even more essential for tracking personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. NJMHC uses Sortly to track protective gowns, surgical masks, face shields, goggles, biohazard bags and equipment along with everything else that goes out with the crew. 

Using barcodes, Griffin and the company’s supervisors update the inventory in Sortly when it is stocked in the storeroom and when it is checked out to an ambulance. The company creates a folder for what’s in the stockroom, and then a folder for every ambulance. When an item is distributed to an ambulance, it is dragged from the stockroom folder to the correct ambulance’s folder.

“We’re using 30 to 50 gowns a day. N95 masks, we’re burning through about 30 of those a day,” said Griffin. “Things like bandages, oxygen supplies, oxygen tubing, different types of oxygen masks, we go through those pretty regularly at a rate of 10 to 20 a day.”

To keep up with such rapid usage—and high stakes—Griffin says that NJMHC also utilizes Sortly low stock alerts.

“If we run out of gowns, then we can’t treat any patients,” said Griffin. “So setting that minimum level and getting that alert is pretty important.”

Sortly makes day-to-day operations easier on these first responders. 

“If I didn’t have a tool like Sortly and I had to do this through Excel, I would have spent 250 hours doing this work” since the start of the pandemic, said Griffin. 

Oregon Pediatric Practice Relies on Sortly to Stock PPE—and Everything Else

Southern Oregon Pediatrics conducts nearly 30,000 office visits a year, has 40+ employees and seven full-time doctors on staff. We chatted with Dr. Mary Hough and her husband, Dr. Matt Hough, about how COVID-19 has changed their day-to-day operations. 

The biggest change has been in patient engagement.

“Like everyone else,” said Matt, “We moved to a significant amount of telehealth as a platform, but continue to see patients in the clinic who are in need of vaccines or have other kinds of concerns. And then we set up an outdoor respiratory clinic separate from the building where we would see kids who are at risk for coronavirus.”

Dr. Mary Hough said that the pandemic pushed Southern Oregon Pediatrics to finally commit to a modern inventory system.

“COVID was kind of the wake-up call,” said Mary. “We’ve had a really inefficient inventory system, which had just been our head nurse kind of walking around the building to decide what we needed.” 

The practice knew they would need PPE (and lots of it) to keep their providers, staff and patients safe… Why not track everything in their inventory—and save money and time, too? 

“As long as we had to pay attention to our PPE,” said Mary, “it made sense that we also had to control our costs on everything else with an unknown future. You know, we didn’t want to overstock, we didn’t want to understock, either.”

The practice utilizes Sortly alerts for low stock and inventory that’s approaching expiration. They also create a report with filters for minimum quality and customized tags to make reordering a breeze. 

NYC-Based Engineers Use Sortly To Track Who’s Sharing Equipment

For Shameer Nanan, the office manager at MG Engineering in New York City, Sortly helps protect engineers from COVID-19 while also creating a vital chain of custody for shared equipment.

MG Engineering uses Sortly to track both its office equipment and the items engineers use when they conduct on-site surveys. 

At first, of course, construction sites were closed in New York City. But once modified work was permitted, MG Engineering needed to outfit its employees with personal protective equipment—and track when, how and by whom it was used.

“We just created a new folder called “PPE’,” said Shameer. “What we’re doing with that folder is we’re itemizing masks, gloves, UV lights. We bought small UV lights, sanitizing lights, so they could also bring it onto the field with them when they go out.”

Of course, MG Engineering has always sent its engineers out with protective equipment like hard hats and vests. But now, tracking the equipment is essential. 

“We have to track the usage of equipment that’s going to be used by several people,” said Shameer, “Just in case somebody were to come down with COVID. We would need to be able to track that particular equipment to people who used it.”

Sortly’s robust item history reports make this easy. Plus, Shameer’s team is using the open-ended notes field to record more vital information about each item’s chain of custody. 

“So, what we did was every time we gave an item to somebody, we put their name in the notes section.”

Shameer’s team is also using Sortly to track who is using some equipment, like monitors, to work from home.

Florida Plumbing Company Logs PPE for Plumbers as it Prepares for Long-Term Change

Metro Plumbing specializes in commercial and residential plumbing in Palm Beach Country, Florida. Our Sortly team chatted with Ralph Mesa about Metro’s experience with the Sortly app during COVID-19.

Ralph’s team started using Sortly earlier in the year to get its warehouse inventory under control. 

“Before Sortly, we had a full-time warehouse person. That person has become more part-time,” said Ralph. “I wanted something for inventory that was easy to learn with a really quick interface and something that was mobile, that we can look up from our phones and from the computer.”

Metro Plumbing was already using products like masks and gloves to do everyday business when, due to the coronavirus pandemic, they suddenly became essential for work. 

“Whatever masks are available is what we’re trying to get. It started off with N-95s, then it became the surgical style masks, which are more light-duty. Then we equipped everyone with face masks that require filter changes,” said Ralph.

Keeping track of the masks, of course, is very important, because procuring them is so challenging. To stay informed, Ralph and his team utilize Sortly’s low quantity alerts. 

The Metro Plumbing crew also makes use of Sortly’s barcode and QR code scanners. If it’s just a couple items, they’ll sometimes enter information manually on a shared computer. For a larger batch of items, they’ll scan items in and out. 

Properly managing and inventorying PPE is key to Metro Plumbing’s business. 

“We want to make sure that our customers are comfortable. Keeping them safe is going to be a long-term goal,” said Ralph. “So we know we’re going to be stocking masks and gloves and face coverings pretty much for a lot longer than anyone probably anticipates.”

About Sortly

Sortly’s mission has always been to help businesses manage their inventory in a way that’s smart and simple, even if they stock items in multiple locations or burn through stock at a very high rate. Features like low stock alerts, expiring item alerts, customized reports and QR/barcode scanning make managing inventory faster and less stressful than ever before, even for users who aren’t so tech-savvy. 

While COVID-19 has changed almost everything in our world, Sortly’s goal remains the same: to make inventorying easy, so our customers can focus on what really matters: their business. Interested? Try Sortly free today!