September 21, 2021

Which Improvements does Warehouse Operations for Pharmaceutical Distribution lack?

Joann Henry

Although logistics is not well-studied is a familiar truth. It is not uncommon for regulators and businesses to overlook the details of getting products from one place to another. The Code of Federal Regulations for Food and Drugs Title 21 contains many pages that address the licensing and application of drugs. It also addresses requirements for paperwork, manufacturing, and labeling. It offers minimal guidance regarding pharmaceutical warehouse design requirements.

The pharmaceutical companies and their logistics managers have a lot to do when designing a pharmaceutical warehouse or developing storage and retrieval procedures. They are responsible for following best practices when handling pharmaceuticals and designing warehouses that store and deliver drugs safely and accurately. Many logistics managers end up settling for older equipment and facilities. However, there are compelling arguments to ensure that the design, automation, and equipment in your pharmacy warehouse are up-to-date.

Efficient Pharmaceutical Warehouse Layout

A warehouse’s layout is critical to its efficiency. Pharma companies face unique challenges in designing warehouse or distribution center layouts because of the nature of their products. Pharmaceuticals have to be sensitive to temperature changes as well as external contamination by bacteria and chemicals. Even lighting can sometimes cause harm to prescriptions. It is crucial to store medications in a way that makes it easy for customers to use a first, second, and third-party system. This helps protect these expensive and sensitive products from being stolen or intentionally contaminated. When setting up a pharmacy storage warehouse, there are many factors to consider.

The best warehouse arrangements for pharmaceutical warehouses is likely to be a thorough one:

Two types of warehouse workflow patterns can be broadly described. A “through” pattern guides incoming pharmaceutical inventories through one side of a warehouse and out on the other. A circular, or “U-shape,” warehouse pattern allows traffic flow around the storage areas in central, with input/output via the same entrance/exit. The loading docks are the most popular, with high-demand items being closer to them. Lower demand items are farther away.

The “through” warehouse places high-demand items along the path from the entrance to the exit. Lower demand items are placed closer to exterior walls. A “U-pattern” warehouse places high-demand items close to the loading docks. As their demand decreases, items are moved further away from the doors. Low-demand items are placed against a wall. Each layout has its pros and cons.

Through Warehouse Advantages:

  • Linear design: Products only travel in one direction, so it’s much easier to maintain a first/first-out shipping schedule.
  • Multiple channels: Warehouse throughput is easily divided into numerous channels, which all flow the same way. This reduces the chance of picking the wrong item.
  • Discrete Temperature Areas: Different lines of throughput can be designated as temperature-controlled areas or cold storage areas without overlapping.

Circular Warehouse Advantages:

  • Combination Trips: Because it will be returning to the same place, a forklift can be dispatched to load and unload a load.
  • Cross-Docking Products that are delivered to the loading dock can immediately be shipped out without the need for packing or detailing a fork truck to make a trip in the event of a hurry order.
  • Enhanced space control: The warehouse has only one entrance and exit. This allows for greater security and also allows for better management of the temperature and the environment.

The best warehouse design for pharmaceutical warehouses is the through one. A through the warehouse is designed to meet the requirement of first-in/first-out shipping. Linear product flow allows for organization and accurate picking. Through-type warehouses, however, are not typical. Access roads are required at both the input- and output ends of the warehouse. However, most warehouses only have one entry point. However, particular storage or retrieval techniques can increase linear throughput inside the warehouse, regardless of how it looks from the outside.

Warehouse Requirements for Equipment and Automation

Pharmaceutical warehousing pallet racks make it easier to optimize your warehouse’s layout. The pallet racks can maximize the storage space of your warehouse by increasing cube utilization. This rack can be used in conjunction with a pallet mole (also called a pallet shuttle) to allow pharmaceutical warehouses to eliminate the need for aisles. This form of automation operates entirely on a linear basis and is relatively easy to use.

The pallet mole system allows you to place your first load in the racks, and it will be picked up for shipment.

A pallet mole is a simple device that lifts pallets and runs them along a track to the next available slot. It places the pallet there and then returns to the input position. The pallet mole system allows the first load to be placed in the racks to pick up and ship out. This means that any pharmaceutical warehouse using pallet moles will effectively create a “through” warehouse, regardless of its exterior layout. This system combines the best of both significant warehouse layouts and offers:

  • Discrete Channels Each row of a pallet rack may be used for a specific pharmaceutical. This creates a multichannel warehouse that is easy to use with very little cross-purpose work.
  • Temperature zones: A pallet system and a shuttle system can both be placed in each temperature zone. They bring maximum volume and efficient linear flow to every part of the warehouse.
  • Combined Motions: A forklift can be described as inputting a product in the storage system at one end and pick it up on the output side. This is called a U-shaped layout.

Because linear movement is restricted to the storage and retrieval area and the warehouse only has one loading/unloading point, this arrangement allows for greater control over warehouse security and the ability to cross-dock. This combination of pallet racks and pallet moles provides for the best of both warehouse designs.

Automation can run smoothly with no interruptions and without product damage, thanks to the reliability of plastic.

One drawback is that it has one. It is costly and time-consuming if something goes wrong in the racks. To get the most out of supply chain automation, it is vital to use only reliable equipment.

Warehouse automation requires plastic pallets. Plastic shipping platforms, unlike wood, have uniform weights, dimensions, and strengths. Plastic is reliable and can be used to maintain automation’s smooth operation without interruptions or damage. Plastic pallets can be washed and sanitized before use. This will help keep pharmaceuticals and the supply chain equipment handling them (such as racks and pallet moles- ) free of contamination. While pharmaceutical companies might determine warehouse requirements, plastic pallets allow them to set the bar high.