Optimised processes and a high level of service at Pluripharm
Pluripharm is a pharmaceutical wholesaler offering the full range of medicines available in the Netherlands (fully sorted). Two years ago it began using a fully-automated roller conveyor system together with CurTec lidded crates. This led to greater flexibility, faster deliveries and more convenience for pharmacists.
Pluripharm started out as a buyer and seller of pharmaceutical products. In thirty years it has grown into a national player that offers a full range of products and supporting services. What makes Pluripharm different from other suppliers is that it does not own its own pharmacies. Pluripharm supplies independent pharmacies. These pharmacies place orders on a daily basis to restock their medicine supplies. Mark de Loos, General Logistics Manager, talked to us about the transition to the new system.
Saving space in the warehouse
Until a couple of years ago, Pluripharm used shelving to organise its internal logistics. Mark: “This meant that we had many racks stacked high with products. We used to print out the order and someone would walk around the warehouse with a cart. When all of the order had been collected, we used to check it and send it to the customer.” When Pluripharm moved over to another system, one of its requirements was that the crates had to be nestable. This was particularly important for returned products and for saving space in the warehouse.
“Our high level of service is one of the reasons why pharmacies switch to Pluripharm”
Fully automated ordering
Customer orders are fully automated in the new system. Mark: “The pharmacies we supply use an AIS (Pharmacy Information System). This means that we receive orders electronically. The system allows customers half an hour to amend their order before it is processed. Furthermore, the system recommends alternatives to the pharmacist for the order.
Most orders are placed at wholesalers by 1 pm. Further orders come in after 5 pm. These orders are for medicines that the pharmacy no longer has in stock after 1 pm. and which it really needs for the following day.”
Lidded crates with track and trace
“We have been using the roller conveyor system and CurTec crates for two years. We currently have 18 order picking zones. When an order comes in it is split up by the system into virtual bins. This system knows the different sizes of the lidded crates and notifies you of the size of crate that best fits the order. The barcode on the lidded crate is scanned and the system prints out a card. This card contains information such as name, address and city so that the crates can also be visually recognised in the logistics process. The crate is sent to the correct place using scanners on the conveyor track. The relevant medicines are then scanned and placed in the correct lidded crate. When the order is complete, the lidded crate is given a special sealing loop. Before the driver leaves, we give the packages one final scan for verification purposes. The order is then delivered to the pharmacy before 8 am.”, said Mark.
Quality, speed and service
Pluripharm is known for its quality and service. Mark: “Everything that is ordered today is order picked on the same day. The process continues until all of the incoming orders have been processed. We have every medicine available in the Netherlands so that we can deliver these immediately. We want to make as few errors as possible when we do this”, said Mark. “The new system works perfectly for us. Pluripharm has a service level of 99.9%!”
An additional service provided by Pluripharm is Central filling. This is done by the Pluripack division. Mark: “Central Filling is the preparation of patient prescriptions at a central site for the pharmacies that are wholesale customers. The pharmacy outsources the work of packing the boxes and labelling and bagging them. We also use CurTec lidded crates for this process.”
When a pharmacy sends in prescriptions for Central Filling, these are mainly dealt with by a fully-automated robot. Other parts are collected in the warehouse. “This is where the CurTec lidded crates come into play. We use order picking to collect the specific medicines. This crate is then sent to Pluripack on the same day. The medicines are labelled for the patient, placed in a labelled bag and are then sent off”, said the General Logistics Manager.
Mark: “Pharmacies are fond of the lidded crates because they are so compact. The crates make it easy for pharmacies to sort and process them more quickly than with the old system. The crates are also durable: we have yet to see the first worn-out crate.” When Mark was asked whether the crates offer value for money, he said “Yes, they require a fairly minor investment, you can reuse them repeatedly and they offer benefits because they can be nested. The difference between using these crates and a process with cardboard boxes is that we save a good number of man hours.
Nestable lidded crates have enabled Pluripharm to create more storage space and reduce its logistics costs. Would you like to know about the possibilities for your organisation?
'For us, choosing CurTec is a matter of quality. The lidded crates are used intensively, but rarely break. This property, together with their manageability, ease of cleaning and the use of various colours have led to time and quality savings across our entire process.'
'From our very first contact, we had the feeling that ‘we’ were the starting point. Other suppliers just sent us crates which often did not even meet the our requirements. CurTec distinguished itself by thinking with us about our process in order to find the best packaging solution.'