To ensure the company can fulfil demanding regulatory requirements in terms of tracking and tracing for pharmaceutical products, Slawex has integrated a state-of-the-art picking system, including a Schäfer Scan Machine, into its processes. By implementing this solution for fully automated picking and reading of individual products at its site in Klaudyn, the pharmaceutical wholesaler has assumed a leading role in the Polish market and is also strengthening its position in the wider EU region.
Slawex was founded in 1990 with the company’s HQ located in Lublin, Poland. Its customer base is largely pharmacies and hospitals, but also includes health-food stores. Slawex stores and distributes around 16,000 different items, including over-the-counter (OTC) medication and prescription (Rx) medication, which can be delivered the same day. The company’s quality management processes, which were implemented in accordance with the “Good Distribution Practice” guidelines, mean they can ensure the products will always reach the recipient in perfect condition.
The zero error tolerance demanded is accompanied by stringent safety requirements, maximum transparency and full traceability. Within this context, statutory provisions (FMD) can create significant challenges, but they are also essential for ensuring patient safety. Slawex has responded to these regulatory changes by building a new storage and picking facility at its Klaudyn site, as well as reorganizing the picking and documentation process, which was previously entirely manual.
The newly commissioned, threestory logistics unit covers approximately 1,700 m² and includes static and dynamic flow racks. Employees now pick orders from these racks using handheld RFID terminals. Roughly 25 percent of the order lines are, however, picked using a fully automated AFrame picking system. In conjunction with the Schäfer Scan Machine that is connected directly to the system, a system-wide individual product picking and recording solution that complies with the tracking and tracing guidelines for pharmaceutical products was implemented. The technical performance was also improved at the same time: Since going live, approximately 2,000 orders averaging 30,000 order items have been processed per day.
The twelve A-Frames are modular in design and have a total of 864 channels. This creates high product density, allowing the available space to be used to its full potential. An additional advantage of the solution is the decoupling of the replenishment process and the picking itself. The A-Frames are filled at off-peak times and fully automated picking takes place at peak times. The resulting efficient deployment of personnel is enabling a significant increase in productivity.
After the products have been ejected onto the collecting belt of the A-Frame, each individual product is reoriented and scanned on all six sides by highly sensitive cameras. Any reading errors are flagged and affected bins are automatically redirected to an inspection station. Depending on the order structure, the system can read up to 10,000 items an hour while identifying and documenting serial numbers, batch numbers and expiration dates.
In addition, the turn-key project includes racking systems, the provision of bins and the delivery and installation of a bin conveying system to efficiently connect the different warehouse areas. The jointly designed concept is complemented by the integration of radio frequency picking, de-stackers, lidding and address insertion machine and strapping machine. SSI Schaefer’s proprietary logistics software WAMAS® controls the whole system and links all of the components together, taking into account serial and batch numbers, as well as expiration dates.
The new warehouse for the pharmaceutical wholesaler was implemented within just six months.