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Irish pharma firm automates DC

25 May 2020

The project will see the facility process up to 4,500 order lines per hour.

Uniphar engaged system integrator Inther Group to complete a large automation project at its DC in Ireland. It will be a completely new system that will significantly expand the capacity at Uniphar.

The 4,400 sq m DC in Annacotty will be equipped with a fully automated logistics system that can process up to 4,500 order lines per hour. Inther has designed a system in which both proven and innovative technologies are combined.

Marc Biermann, head of sales Engineering at Inther Group says: “In this project, various innovative solutions from Inther Group come together in a total concept that is driven by the Inther LC software system (WES).” 

A miniload storage system will be implemented to store the goods, which is suited for the diverse product range. Two cranes will be deployed in one aisle to increase capacity and also provide optimal redundancy. The entire logistics process will be linked by the in-house developed Inther Conveyor Equipment (ICE). This guarantees a short installation and commissioning time. In addition, the Automated Document Inserter (ADI) will automatically add documents in shipping boxes. The ADI prints, buffers and folds the documents, then automatically adds them to the box.

Inther Group’s renewed A-Frame (over 36 metres long) will play an essential role in the future operation. The A-Frame is an ideal solution in the pharmaceutical world because of the fast processing of complex orders. The A-Frame guarantees the highest possible productivity and an optimal material flow, even at peak loads. 

Mike Strijbos, CTO, Inther Group: “Unique features such as continuous stock monitoring, real-time video registration and product heat mapping ensure that orders can be processed automatically and 100% correctly.”

The operation will be managed by the Inther LC software platform, a Warehouse Execution System which links all functions in the warehouse and thus supports all warehouse processes, from receiving to shipping. The interfacing is done with SAP. 

The system is expected to be operational by the end of 2020.

FMD integration

As of 2019, every prescription medicine package must have a unique serial number, which is secured in a central European database. This European directive, Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD), is intended to prevent the circulation of falsified medicines. Inther Group has developed a software application that guarantees successful FMD integration and application for distribution centres. This simplifies the logistics processing of medicines.

The FMD guideline has a significant impact on the supply chain of medicines. Healthcare institutions, manufacturers and suppliers are now obliged to affix, register or decommission a unique serial number on pharmaceutical packaging. Inther Group has developed the software solution ‘Inther FMD’ to simplify the application of this European directive and thus the logistic processing of medicines. The main functions of the Inther FMD application are verifying and decommissioning individual medicines in one central database. In this web-based solution, GS1 barcodes can be scanned and transferred with the chosen action to the NMVS (National Medication Verification System) database.

The system works with a safe API for integration with WMS and ERP systems, for example for receiving, picking and packing. From an existing order picking solution, a simple connection can be made with Inther FMD, so that the items can be immediately decommissioned during order picking.