Our pharmacy has 10–15 employees working in different shifts on weekdays. The advantage is that the technical employee working the morning shift can help the pharmacists at the checkout even if the unpacking of the 40–50 crates from the wholesaler into the fully automated dispensing system is not finished.
Smoothing out points of discontinuity
Work optimisation requires understanding the points of discontinuity in process work that should be organised as smoothly as possible. In the morning shift, for example, one such point is when the medicine packages are still in crates in the hallway, waiting to be fed into the ADS.
Another point of discontinuity is a situation where a medicine package must be retrieved from storage to the customer service point. Thanks to the robots labouring in the automated dispensing system, the situation is handled smoothly and reliably. If I were to retrieve the medicine off the shelf myself, I would have to check the package quite a few times to make sure that it is the right medicine and that it is from the batch to be sold first.
No unnecessary interruptions or wasted space
Thanks to the ADS, our customer service staff are no longer running here and there to retrieve medicine packages as the belt conveyor brings them all the way to the customer service point. As a result, the working environment is more peaceful and the customer service more personal without interruptions.
The automated belt conveyor is particularly functional at our drive-in customer service point. It is great that customer contact is not cut off during the service transaction and that the storage location of the medicine is not revealed to the customer, which increases safety.
We have also optimised the use of space. The automated dispensing system is 4.5 metres high and goes up through the flooring to the second floor, where we have staff social and office areas. There is a collection of old pharmacy items on top of the ADS to delight us and visitors.
The automated dispensing system takes up only about 12 square metres of the pharmacy itself, meaning that we do not pay for unnecessary space. This has also resulted in cost savings.
Optimising the use and sale of medicines
My goal is to further optimise the operation of the automated dispensing system. I want to make the ADS a sales tool that includes over-the-counter products in addition to prescription medicines. I do not want to maximise, but to optimise the sale of medicines – as well as their use. Implementing product pair thinking (= prescription medicine + necessary over-the-counter product) in the automated dispensing system could be a challenge for robot development to promote customer service.”
Pharmacist: Sakari Alaranta
Annual prescriptions filled: 98,557 (2018)
Fixu commissioned: 1/ 2018
Site: New premises
Project partners: NewIcon Oy and Lindqvist interior design office
Photo: The Iso-Fixu automated dispensing cabinet is 4.5 metres high and goes up through the flooring to the second floor. There is a collection of old pharmacy items on top of the automated dispensing system. You can peek inside the ADS from the window pictured in the foreground, says pharmacist Sakari Alaranta.