Pharmacy2U has harnessed the power of new technology and sophisticated logistics systems for its brand new pharmacy of the future. Logistex worked with Pharmacy2U to develop a revolutionary automated pharmaceutical dispensing and warehouse system. The project integrates a range of technologies, including automated twin headed dispensing robots, pick to light, conveyor and an automated packaging solution.
Daniel Lee, founder and Managing Director of Pharmacy2U said: “Our investment in this innovative new facility supports the NHS’ aim of increasing access for patients to new types of pharmacy service. GP practices across the country are currently introducing electronic prescriptions – and this, coupled with our new dispensing hub is making our well established NHS repeat prescription service available to more patients.”
Key technical features of the new facility:
• Automated dispensing robots. Housed within a secure medicine cabinet, they can pick a prescription item every eight seconds. The robots can pick multiple packs at once
• The storage and picking areas are approximately 650m² (the size of 2.5 tennis courts)
• The length of the conveyor belts is 550m (nearly twice the height of the Shard building in London)
• An automated packaging system that reduces the size of each package to the exact size of the products inside minimises waste and postage costs. The machine can produce up to 600 boxes per hour
• Pharmacy technicians working on the ‘pick by light’ section of the production line can process a prescription every three seconds
• Accuracy and clinical governance is built in at every step of the process. This includes a three-way barcode verification process
Logistex Warehouse Management System LWS Reflex provides full operational management and movement control. Included with the functionality, LWS Reflex manages both prescribed and non-prescribed (over the counter) medicines, and provides sophisticated labelling and checking and parts picking functionality. Products are automatically dispensed or picked directly into totes, which are routed to the appropriate zones. Orders are then labelled and scanned to ensure the correct label is applied to the correct pack.
The solution provides the same checks seen in a community or hospital pharmacy in addition to a triple barcode verification process at the labelling stations which ensure the right product has the correct medicine label. All prescriptions are reviewed clinically by a pharmacist and are double checked for accuracy before they are dispensed.
One of the most interesting parts of this solution, other than the software, is the integration of automated twin headed robot dispensing machines. Supplied by Becton Dickinson, the solution includes two Rowa Vmax Duplo robots, providing fully automated storage and retrieval / put away and dispensing of pharmaceutical product.
Logistex worked closely with Pharmacy2U to design a solution that would match the growing needs of consumers as more and more patients are opting for home delivery of their prescriptions. Jerry Woodhouse, Managing Director for Logistex commented, “The automated pharmaceutical dispensing system for Pharmacy2U represents a technological advance not previously deployed in the UK. Pharmacy2U have been visionary in their strategy to embrace the latest automation systems and technology capable of delivering the highest levels of security, service and operational efficiency. A close partnership has been fostered between Logistex and P2U to ensure the success of the project and enable P2U to embark on future expansion.”
The new facility is already enhancing efficiencies and capabilities both now and for future growth:
– It has given Pharmacy2U the capability to despatch one million prescription items a month
– Capacity is more than 10 times that of the company’s previous system
– Initial analysis shows accuracy rates have improved by 25% to 99.98%
Daniel Lee added; “The new facility is enabling us to scale up our business to the next level – with plans to significantly grow our customer base and market share.”