The Vantaanportti pharmacy chose additional technology to accompany its “Duck”

Published 21st of April 2016

An Iso-Fixu system was installed in the Vantaanportti pharmacy in February. The system is connected to additional order screens at the prescription submission and info desks. The new pharmacy technology will bring speed and continuity to the customer service situation, as the robot will quickly retrieve both prescription and selected over-the-counter drugs from the storage.

Pharmacy owner Jari Kiviranta says that moving to the larger premises of the Jumbo Shopping Centre was a natural time to invest in pharmacy automation. The relocation was confirmed in the autumn of 2015, after which the Iso-Fixu was planned, manufactured, and installed. The result was a 3.6 metres tall, fully automated medicine storage robot with two robot arms.

Kiviranta made the procurement decision, based on recommendations from his colleagues. Many had been happy with the system and pleased with the smoothness of the installation and the commissioning.

“They said that the system had started working without a hitch, and so did ours. Customers expect the same kind of service every day, so it was important for the first days with the automated system to pass smoothly,” Kiviranta says.

“As for the additional order screens, I wanted to try them because they were not a big investment in comparison with the other equipment. It will be interesting to see how customers coming to retrieve a prescription medicine like it when they can also choose other products conveniently on the screen at the beginning in April.”

The monitors work as a memory support for the pharmacists, so that they can routinely offer the necessary over-the-counter products for the customers.

The moment with the customer becomes more relaxed

Customers of the Vantaanportti pharmacy have been intrigued by the new pharmacy technology. They are surprised when a medicine package arrives on the conveyor without the pharmacist having to leave the counter at all. There is also a small window from the customer service facility to the medicine storage, through which the customers can take a look at the robot doing its work.

“People are interested in how and how well the robot works. It’s easier to keep up a conversation when the customer service situation is not disrupted. It also gives provides an opportunity to ask further questions and try to create additional sales,” knows pharmacist Marja Koivula.

Pharmacy owner Kiviranta hopes that thanks to the automation, the technical workers working at the storage could also devote their working time to customer service.

There is a need for the added resources, as the number of customers at the shopping centre pharmacy is on the rise.

“From a customer’s point of view, the automation is justified by the faster customer service and increased medical safety, as the robot will not ‘accidentally’ retrieve a wrong medicine,” Kiviranta says.

Storage management becomes more efficient

The automated system takes care of some of the technical personnel’s work, as not only does the storage robot pick up medicine packages for the pharmacist and the customer quickly and without error, it also unpacks the medicines that arrive from the supplier and places them on the storage shelves. In other words, the same robot carries out two tasks, which is why the unpacking should be taken care of before opening the pharmacy or before customer peaks, so that the medicine packages do not stand on the conveyor.

“The storage robot will prioritise delivering medicine packages to the pharmacist’s counter, which will then suspend the unpacking process,” informs technical worker Kirsi Tilli.

Iso-Fixu features an automatic feeding unit for medicine packages, and the technical worker empties transport boxes onto its conveyor and monitors how the medicine packages are moved into the storage to be shelved by the robot. On the way, a robot working outside the storage will scan the information of the medicine packages into the pharmacies’ MAXX system.

“Now we don’t have to go through every package ourselves and enter them into the system. That task has become easier,” says Tilli appreciatively.

The Duck, Brita or something else?

Kiviranta gives Iso-Fixu a good grade. Or the Duck, as it is affectionately called, as the personnel think the robot looks like a duck as it moves around and pecks at things in the storage. They have yet to decide on the official name, but they have considered naming it Brita- after a retired technical worker.

“I’ll give it a B+, as commissioning the robot was smooth and everything has worked as expected. It makes no collecting errors and is reliable, as there have been no major downtimes. The sound proofing could be better, though ‒ the conveyer and the robot itself make some noise. However, I can definitely recommend the robot to my colleagues,” Kiviranta concludes.

Read more:

Pharmacy automation in pharmacies

More information

Pharmacy owner: Jari Kiviranta
Personnel: 24
Prescriptions: 220,000
Commissioning of Iso-Fixu: 2 / 2016
Site: New, renovated facility
Project co-operation partners:
Naturvention Ltd., VMP-Interior Oy, Hauhon Puutyöpalvelu Oy, Rakennuspalvelu 345 Oy, SS-sähkötyöt Oy, Receptum Oy, Jumbo property office. Designers: Sisustusarkkitehtitoimisto Tero Lindqvist and Jukka Nummi/VMP-Interior.


The article was originally published in the Icon News magazine in 2016.


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