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Theatre Storage - Case Study

Shelfspan were approached by Ipswich Hospital for a solution to their shelving and storage in the theatre areas.
The areas are mainly used to store sterile instrument packs and due to an increase in the number of packs being stored and a higher level of usage, the area had become overcrowded and difficult to maintain the high standards set. Each pack is covered with a sterile wrapper to protect its contents, however, as the current system and available space was inadequate, this was causing packs to be compromised.
Each time a pack tears, the contents have to be re-sterilised which results in operations being cancelled or delayed, causing additional cost to the hospital and unnecessary distress to the patient. The lack of shelving in the room compared to the workload it was being used for also meant that packs couldn’t be organised efficiently, causing delays and affecting the running of the theatre.


Shelfspan initially completed a free site survey to discover a real understanding of the problems the theatre were having. This gave us the opportunity to speak with key stakeholders to explore the issues in detail and help with recommendations.

The site survey allowed Shelfspan to see the room that was available, as well as to see exactly what products were being stored on the shelves. Gathering this information is a crucial part of the process in order to recommend the correct product.

During the site survey, Shelfspan measured the size of the room in order to produce drawings to show the best layout available to maximise the storage space.

  • Solutions

    Based on the problems highlighted by the mutual meeting and site survey, Shelfspan recommended a suitable solution. The shelving installed was Eko Fit, which included a run of shelving, mobile units and a high-density system mounted on floor tracks with hand wheels.

    There were a number of factors to consider when deciding on the best shelving to use, and Eko Fit was chosen for the following reasons:

     All frames and shelves have smooth ‘snag free’ edges to ensure the sterile packs don’t tear when being loaded onto or taken off the shelf.

    Each shelf consists of an aluminium frame and aluminium shelf slats with polyethylene plastic connectors. The 75mm wide shelf slats can easily be removed to give the units a deep clean, ensuring high hygiene standards. Each slat sits directly adjacent to another, meaning there are no gaps, creating a smooth solid shelf. This again helps to stop packs from tearing/snagging.

    The versatility of the Eko Fit shelving was a main factor. The system is available in 440 size variations, achieving best fit for the room and space accessible. Shelves can be adjusted/added at 150mm increments, therefore the theatre decided to have a space of 300mm between shelves to reduce over-stacking and take full advantage of the surface area available. This limits the risk of tearing/snagging of the packs.

Ipswich case study static racks

As well as static shelving and mobile units, a high-density system was installed. These are standard Eko Fit racks fitted onto a floor track and connected to hand-crank wheels. With this system, only one free aisle is needed meaning that more shelving units can be added into the same size area, increasing storage space by up to 60%. Trolleys in the same format were also supplied to aid with the moving of theatre packs to and from the storage and processing areas.

The delivery and installation of the system was organised and carried out by Shelfspan who liaised closely with the Project Managers at the hospital throughout the project. A coordinated approach was required due to the tight schedule to get the shelving installed and this had to be done on a certain day due the theatre only being down for refurbishment for one week.
The whole system was installed in one day.
Ipswich case study mobile racks
Ipswich case study transport racks
Shelfspan provided an optimum solution to the theatre at Ipswich Hospital to help them overcome many difficulties by installing the Eko Fit shelving system;
- Rounded edges reduce snagging/torn packages
- Reduced space between shelf levels prevent over-stacking of sets, again reducing the risk of compromising the sterile wrap
- Slatted shelf design ensures the high hygiene standards can be adhered to, as slats can easily be removed and the whole units can be deep cleaned.
Helping the hospital to achieve these goals means they save money and reduce the number of delayed and cancelled operations, therefore improving patient care and freeing up time to focus on the efficiency of the department.
The high-density system has increased the storage capacity in the room and enabled the department to be more organised, as they can now arrange the packs in a more efficient way. Not only does this mean they are now easier to find, but it also means packs are always available and operations can run smoother.
‘Shelfspan were very professional, accommodating and understanding of the issues in the theatre. Their product knowledge was invaluable to recommend the most suitable shelving system for our requirements. Overall, we are extremely pleased with the outcome, as the project has met all of the objectives and exceeded expectations.’
- Stuart White, Sterile Service and Endoscopy Reprocessing Manager