Automated dispensing system still waiting for a name: “Is it a he or a she?”

Published 18th of February 2015

Kauriala Pharmacy has undergone a makeover. The most obvious change is the move to the Goodman shopping center inaugurated in October 2014 in downtown Hämeenlinna. The new location has increased the monthly customer volume two-and-a-half fold. Another novelty is the larger retail area where maximum use of space is enabled by the compact Iso-Fixu storage and retrieval system for prescription medicines.

“Our pharmacy has become a so-called shopping center pharmacy, which is why the main focus of our sales has shifted from prescription medicines to self-medication products”, says Pharmacist Nina Ronimus.

Due to a lack of space, a traditional row of drawers was not feasible in the new facility. Moving the company’s previous storage robot was also out of the question. The Dutch robot would have taken up much more floor space than the robot from Kuopio, which has eight storage modules and surrounding walls that rise all the way up to the ceiling.

“The height of the storage space could be tailored to our needs. The cabinet was even lowered by 10 centimeters right before installation, because it actually went all the way up to the lamp rails”, Ronimus recalls.

Using your mother tongue is easy

Iso-Fixu’s size, a storage capacity of thousands of medicines, and her colleagues praise are some of the reasons behind Ronimus’ investment decision. Her inner decorator also liked the idea of a storage space with an exterior that could be modified to one’s liking.

“The customer at the service counter sees the robot’s exterior wall with a refreshing image of grass taped onto it. The cabinets on the wall and the medicine outlet are white”, Ronimus describes.

The domesticity of the storage system also tipped the scales in its favor. In addition to a Finnish user interface, installation, technical support, and maintenance are also available in Finnish. Pharmacy Technician Tiina Salminen is also pleased to be using a domestic device made by Finnish experts.

“The robot is easy to use, and I feel safe knowing that I can always call someone if I have a problem.”

Iso-Fixu receives top grades 

Based on four months of user experience, Ronimus gives Iso-Fixu a nine out of ten and Salminen an eight-and-a-half out of ten. According to Ronimus, no machine deserves full marks.

“After initial teething problems, Iso-Fixu is now purring smoothly. Implementation was delayed by, for instance, the fact that some of the shelves installed in the storage were the wrong size. We would have liked to have more detailed instructions on the kinds of packages that go into storage”, says Ronimus.

Salminen says that the fully-automatic storage input system has made her job more flexible. Technicians now have more time available for product arrangement in the retail area, among other tasks.

“Sorting medicines is easier, because medicine packages can be placed on the worktop in a random order and the storage robot arranges them on the shelves. Before, we would enter the medicine data onto a computer and find their places ourselves.”

According to Salminen, another positive aspect of Iso-Fixu as compared to the previous robot is that it transfers orders and other information automatically to the Finnish MAXX pharmacy system.

Manual work and the risk of wrong entries have been eliminated. Moreover, Iso-Fixu keeps the stock up-to-date, because the system recognizes the expiration dates of medicine packages.

The staff at Kauriala Pharmacy will continue to get to know Iso-Fixu and give it a more friendly name once they find out whether the robot is a man or a woman.

“Fixu has to reveal its identity to us first”, says Ronimus jokingly.

More information

KAURIALA PHARMACY, HÄMEENLINNA, FINLAND 
Pharmacist Nina Ronimus 
Staff of 11 
Prescriptions: 54 985 (in 2014) 
Iso-Fixu installed in October 2014