How to ensure express delivery of pharmaceutical products? Logistics 4.0 in practice.
You can read this article in 5 minutes
Sensitive products, end-to-end documentation (throughout the supply chain) and complex procedures – these are what the conditions in the pharmaceutical sector look like. Let’s admit that these are specific and demanding conditions. It has been known for a long time that manufacturers and distributors in the medical sector also have to deal with extremely high requirements regarding intralogistics.
Logistics in pharmaceuticals usually means deliveries more frequent than in other industries, which also include smaller quantities of goods. Other critical challenges for the intralogistics of medical devices are high-quality requirements and extremely low error tolerance, multiple deliveries per day (resulting in peak order periods), but also a large variety of product packaging shapes (conditions in terms of handling).
Expectations for “express” delivery of ordered goods are well known to companies servicing the largest pharmaceutical wholesalers and warehouses, such as CERP Rouen in Lyon.
Logistics in pharmaceuticals faster thanks to automation
To ensure more accessible and more economical storage as well as a smoother distribution of goods, including goods for the disabled, a decision was made to automated warehouses there. This applies to approx. 25,000 orders per day.
The central part of the system for picking orders containing the so-called fast products is a separate aisle with access from eighteen warehouse modules, covering more than 2,000 storage locations.
The automatic racking system works closely with the internal transport system thanks to WAMAS logistics software.
Everything has been prepared and implemented by SSI Schaefer specialists, who have the know-how and are equipped with innovative technologies for the organisation of pharmaceutical logistics and the supply chain in this sector (including both semi-automated and fully automated solutions). The most important task of the solution used in CERP is both the ability to perform tasks also in peak order periods, as well as embracing the increasingly popular philosophy of multichannel (preparation and picking goods for mail-order pharmacies).
Products must be fully traceable throughout the supply chain, and IT solutions must be closely interlinked. Appropriate documentation must be provided to the customer along with the products.
Thorough inspection before handover to distribution
Currently, under construction, the automated clad-rack warehouse for Intersurgical in Lithuania confirms the fact that such and similar automated solutions are increasingly popular in the pharmaceutical sector. Intersurgical is a company that manufactures and distributes breathing aids used in anesthesiology, intensive care, oxygen and aerosol therapy for both hospital and home use. It has branches in Lithuania, Great Britain, Spain, Russia, Sweden, Germany, Canada, Turkey, China, South Africa and Australia, among others.
Mecalux built the 30-meter high warehouse. The management of cargo flow in this facility will be carried out with the use of Easy WMS software adapted to the specific needs of the company, especially in terms of rigorous inspection of goods.
The Intersurgical warehouse is a true giant, consisting of eight 121 m long aisles with double-depth shelving on both sides. Containers with finished products from the factory and raw materials from suppliers will have to undergo an inspection at one of the three designated points before they can enter the warehouse.
In the extensive picking area with three picking stations, it will be possible to prepare 12 orders at the same time. Ready-to-go orders will be transported by a shuttle to the buffer zone consisting of 6 blocks, each with 5 flow channels.
Easy WMS is designed to ensure that the goods pass quality control before they are distributed. By executing the instructions from an external application, the software will direct the products for sterilisation before they are accepted into the warehouse.
The process completion notification will be sent to both the ERP system used by Intersurgical and Easy WMS.
Customer service is challenging in terms of logistics.Especially when a warehouse accepts and releases approx. 3 million products every week.
Photos: SSI Schaefer