Case study: Expanding Iso-Fixu storage capacity at Hollola Pharmacy

Photo: NewIcon’s Production team expanded the Iso-Fixu automated dispensing system (ADS) at Hollola pharmacy. The pictures in this article are taken by Hollola’s pharmacy owner Päivi Pelkonen.

When the Iso-Fixu was purchased for Hollola’s pharmacy four years ago, it was thought far ahead into the future. However, the move to the new facility in Prisma increased the business significantly. Moreover, when Fimea (Finnish Medicines Agency) made a decision in early 2021 that required pharmacies to keep stockpiles of all medicines equal to the two-week average consumption, there was a sudden need for additional capacity.

Pharmacist Päivi Pelkonen says that the new situation forced her to consider different options. Iso-Fixu’s capacity would not be enough to store all the medicines, and there was no desire to replace the system, as it had only been in use for a few years.

“However, there was free floor space in the new premise, so I started to consider the possibility of expanding Iso-Fixu with new cabinet rows. I asked NewIcon about it, and they said they had experience with a similar type of project,” Päivi Pelkonen said.

Efficient use of space requires careful planning

However, in the previous project, the addition was placed at the stern end of Iso-Fixu. Hollola’s Iso-Fixu was installed against the wall, so the new cabinets would have to be added in front.

Henry Ansomäki, NewIcon’s Production Manager, says this brought significant challenges to the project.

“Iso-Fixu’s electrical centers are located at the front of the system. When the extension is made at the front, these centers will have to be relocated, and the cables will possibly have to be extended. Regarding the database, additional work is needed because the so-called “zero location” will have to be moved. The locations of existing coordinates will have to be recalculated and checked during the commissioning phase.

Moreover, when a large system like Iso-Fixu is built, there is typically not much stuff in the space yet. That way, our installers can bring in even the longest components. The difficulty increases significantly when the space is occupied, which was the case at Hollola Pharmacy. The routes then had to be carefully calculated so that components such as a 7.5-meter-long axis could be brought into place. A few rows of cabinets also had to be dismantled from the Iso-Fixu to make space for this step.”

Photo: The routes had to be carefully calculated in advance to ensure the 7.5-meter-long axis could be brought into place.

Accurate calculations ensure a smooth project

Iso-Fixu ADS is a critical factor in the operation of a pharmacy. That’s why Hollola pharmacy had to close during the installation work, creating scheduling pressure for our installers. The pharmacy was closed on Saturday. Iso-Fixu was then emptied by hand, followed by a 30-hour continuous work so that when the pharmacy opened on Monday morning, everything would be ready.

Henry Ansomäki emphasizes the importance of careful planning: projects of this magnitude are successful when unexpected surprises can be minimized.

“With careful planning and precise calculations, we got the coordinates in place and succeeded at once without any issues. The installation phase also went well. This project gave us extra experience in adding cabinet rows to Iso-Fixu. It will be undoubtedly helpful when similar expansion needs arise in other pharmacies.”

Henry Ansomäki would like to thank installers Eemeli and Kalle Pirskanen for the successful work, Mikko Tervonen for the implementation, and Sami Korhonen for the vital remote support in software matters.

Hollola’s project shows that new rows of cabinets can be added to Iso-Fixu like lego blocks if the floor space allows. Large and challenging components can be put in place as long as the possibilities of space can be calculated correctly. The same applies to situations where parts such as electrical switchboards have to be relocated out of the way for new rows of cabinets. Päivi Pelkonen is pleased that the project went well and the pharmacy could return to everyday life on schedule.

“NewIcon’s installers were professional and easy to work with. They carefully planned and prepared for everything. I was well informed of what was going on. Iso-Fixu has proven to be a cost-effective solution that speeds up work and eliminates human error. Even though the system initially raised some questions, no one wants to replace it now,” – Hollola Pharmacy’s owner Päivi Pelkonen happily said.  

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