The staff at Puijonlaakso Pharmacy (Kuopio) have been using the Iso-Fixu automated dispensing system (ADS) since 2011. According to Pharmacist (M.Sc.) Ville Peura, when the system first arrived, everyone was excited, yet skeptical. There were many questions in the air such as “will the system replace us?”, “will we be able to operate the system correctly?”, “will the system be reliable enough?”.
Ten years later, doubts have been removed and the staff’s attitude towards the system has been surprisingly positive. In June 2021, the 10-year-old Iso-Fixu ADS officially retired, making space for a totally new Iso-Fixu to be installed at the new facility, which was relocated to be inside Puijonlaakso Shopping Center.
We sat down with Pharmacist (M.Sc.) Ville Peura to talk about his experience working with both the old and the new Iso-Fixu ADS. Here is our conversation:
How long have you been working at Puijonlaakso Pharmacy and were you here when the first Iso-Fixu arrived?
I started working in August of 2006, so it has been 15 years now. We got the first Iso-Fixu in December 2011 so, yes. I believe we might have gotten one of the first ever sold Iso-Fixu ADS in Finland.
Do you remember how you and others felt when the system arrived 10 years ago?
Yes. People were playing with the thought that it might replace the workforce or that we couldn’t operate it properly.
Was it difficult learning how to use the system then?
As it turns out, the basic functions were pretty easy, like feeding the packages into the system and getting the medicines to customers. Maintenance work like replacing filters was trickier in the beginning but we learned that fairly quickly too.
After the arrival of the system in 2011, how long did it take for the staff to notice the impact made by it?
I think we could see it already in days, and definitely in weeks, as medicines didn’t take such a long time to collect anymore. It is absolutely time-saving, and errors have decreased steeply, too. And of course, as a result, we have more time to talk with our customers, which is great.
How has the pharmacy changed within the last 10 years?
We experience a slight increase in customers served, but more importantly, I would say that the staff has had more time to do customer service, educate themselves, build a social media presence and an online platform for the pharmacy. Some of the staff who used to work as technicians have now moved to work at the front desk, serving customers. So, no cut in the workforce for the sake of the Iso-Fixu!
Have you noticed any differences between this newly installed system and the old one?
Even though this Iso-Fixu is really new for me, I can already see that it is faster in dispensing medicines to customers, because the conveyor belts that used to be in the previous system have been removed. It can also retrieve many packages at the same time thanks to the multi-picking feature that was not in the old one.
Is there any other automation used inside the pharmacy?
We have a new self-service payment desk.
Do you have a funny story with the system that you would like to share?
On one rare occasion where a package got stuck in the conveyor belt in the old system, I had to get a fishing pole to get it moving again. Customers must’ve wondered what I was doing!
Is there feedback you have for NewIcon in general? How could we improve to serve you better?
Well, nothing much. Service has been outstanding so far, so keep up the good work!
We would like to thank Pharmacist (M.Sc.) Ville Peura for taking the time to talk with us.
Here are some photos of Puijonlaakso Pharmacy’s new facility. Could you guess where the Iso-Fixu ADS is located?