Cool picking

26 February 2013

Clinical supplies specialist boosts pick performance with temperature controlled storage and retrieval system from Couzens Storage Solutions.

Following the installation of a Modula Vertical Lift storage and retrieval unit, Biotec Services International has seen a significant improvement in order picking and dispatch performance, as well as more productive use of space.

The Modula supplied and installed by Couzens Storage Solutions has been specifically designed to provide compact, safe and secure temperature-controlled storage. The unit is encased in food safe cladding panels and is equipped with a twin chilling system with dual condensers and evaporators to provide back-up in case of a problem with either. Despite being located close to an outside door, the Modula has successfully operated well within specification running from +2 deg C to +5 deg C across the full machine height.

Biotec Services provides an extensive range and volume of pharmaceutical products for clinical trials and commercial sales worldwide, so fast, complete and accurate shipments are essential to maintain its reputation for service and operational efficiency. Orders for individually numbered pharmaceutical kits need to be selected and shipped, and previously it took time to locate, remove, select and then restack boxes on standard racking.

Now operatives use a touch screen PLC to simply call up the required tray with the specified kit, which is presented automatically in seconds at a comfortable picking height. Products or a layer of boxes can be placed directly onto the shelf ready for dispatch. Biotec's staff find the system is far easier to use than before, taking less time to pick and providing improved stock availability.

Storage trays measuring 2500mm x 857mm incorporate adjustable dividers to form unique locations for each product, including plastic bins for small, lowvolume cartons. With 52 trays in the 6.5m high unit, Modula provides more than 110 sq m of storage on a footprint of less than 10 sq m.

The Modula was installed in a gap between walls to use space most effectively, which meant that operations take place at the front of the building. A porch was installed at the front so that a trolley based picking system holds the products in a controlled environment to prevent condensation as the building has large roller shutter doors opening to the outside.

Rachel Griffiths, Biotec Services' Associate Director, summed up: "We wanted to use a storage system with its own stand-alone temperature control, rather than a standard unit in a chilled room, something very few suppliers could offer. Couzens were very professional in their approach, listened carefully to our requirements and advised on best type of unit.

"The building was being completely face-lifted on a tight time schedule, with the inevitable delays due to electrical installations and site access. The Couzens team showed great patience and understanding, and worked closely with the site project manager to ensure the project was still completed on time. We expected that there would be issues with the cooling but during temperature validation mapping we found a very small differential across the unit, easily passing our specification."