Warehouse logistics in the pharmaceutical sector is continuously evolving. The solutions proposed for the storage, preservation and distribution of pharmaceutical products aim to solve the management issues that typically arise in this context, mainly those resulting from market needs and regulations.

Some of the major challenges faced by the pharmaceutical sector in terms of warehouse logistics are the following:

  • the need for storage space and adequate preservation conditions for medications (bulky products, fragile products, refrigerated products, narcotics);

  • the variety of the assortment of pharmaceutical drugs and medications on the market;

  • the “short” time available for order fulfillment;

  • the picking and distribution conditions.

Logistics in the pharmaceutical sector applies to different contexts. Consider, for example, pharmaceutical companies and laboratories or physical pharmacies, pharmacies within hospitals or the increasingly widespread e-pharmacy business. Online pharmacies are driving the exponential development of this type of commerce.

According to the data provided at the end of March by IQVIA, an international point of reference in the processing and analysis of healthcare data and in the development of technologies for the healthcare sphere, online sales of medicinal products in Italy are increasing: last year (from February 2020 to February 2021) earnings increased by 71% and the volume of sales by a solid 84%.

If we take into consideration the “e-Pharmacy Market” report published in December 2020 by Global Market Insights, “the global online pharmaceutical market reached 60.7 billion dollars (USD) in 2019. […] It is expected that by 2026 it will reach 149.4 billion dollars (USD), with a CAGR* of 14.3% for the 2020-2026 period”.
* Compound Annual Growth Rate – one of the most popular metrics to calculate the growth of a specific value over a given period of time.

Each of these contexts has its own unique characteristics and needs, which warehouse logistics systems must address with targeted responses and technologically innovative and cutting-edge storage and distribution solutions.

Logistical needs in the pharmaceutical sector

The logistical needs of the different areas of the pharmaceutical and medical sector include, of course, the need to make the most of the available space on the one hand and, on the other, to control the ambient temperature, the humidity, or even the quantity of particles in the air (cleanrooms), which in many cases are essential conditions for the proper preservation of pharmaceutical products.

Let’s consider, for example, pharmaceutical companies or laboratories: in addition to using standard automatic storage systems (for the storage of blisters, molds, etc.), these companies need storage systems for special applications, capable of guaranteeing the control the aforementioned ambient conditions. In this case, we are talking about some specific solutions:

  • Automatic storage systems with controlled temperature and humidity, which guarantee accurate product tracking and the control of storage conditions, preventing any interruption of the cold chain and protecting the stored material from deterioration. Modula Climate Control is the Modula storage solution that fits perfectly in that scenario. Using Modula Lift systems, conveniently engineered to ensure efficient storage and controlled temperature and humidity, these solutions facilitate operation within a temperature range between +2°C and +25°C (±1°C) and control relative humidity values exceeding 5%.

  • Low humidity storage systems, which are designed for the storage of materials sensitive to humidity and keep relative humidity below a given value inside the storage system. Modula Dry is the automatic vertical storage system capable of guaranteeing a relative humidity value below 5%.

  • Storage systems for cleanrooms, which are installed inside cleanrooms and ensure that the class of the room is not affected, thus preventing the contamination of the stored material (considering not only medications, but also the sterile instruments used in operating rooms, for example). The Modula Clean Room storage system is compliant with the ISO 14644 standard and meets class 7 and 8 requirements.

    These storage solutions are designed to limit the generation of dust and particulates by the storage system during its operation and, in addition, to limit the deposits of dust and particulates already present in the cleanroom inside the storage system.

An interesting storage solution for physical pharmacies, pharmacies in hospitals and especially parapharmacies is the compact automatic vertical storage system.

Modula has developed Modula Slim, the modular, compact and flexible vertical storage system that is ideal for the aforementioned contexts, as it reduces the footprint and maximizes storage density: in fact, the maximum overall capacity of Modula SLIM is 25,000 kg with heights ranging from 2.4 to 7 meters and just 1.6 meters in depth. It is perfect for the tightest and most confined spaces, such as compartments or under-stair spaces.

Modula SLIM is also perfect for the storage of goods in different shapes and sizes, from loose items to containers, such as boxes, bottles, diapers, and creams. Furthermore, Modula SLIM facilitates inventory control, speeds up picking operations, and reduces placing errors.
The Modula SLIM storage systems are a valid alternative to other types of storage systems and solutions for the dispensing of medications, which are much more expensive and less versatile.

Standard and temperature controlled automatic storage systems in the pharmaceutical sector

Finally, the combination of standard and temperature controlled automatic storage systems turns out to be the perfect solution for e-commerce in the pharmaceutical and parapharmaceutical sector: not only do they ensure a storage environment with controlled temperature and humidity where necessary (specific conditions required by stringent regulations), they also increase the speed of all operations connected to logistics. Automatic storage systems meet the needs of the pharmaceutical and parapharmaceutical sector, including the need to easily and quickly access a large number of different items, making the most of the storage space. Like all Modula automatic vertical storage systems, Modula Climate Control also significantly facilitates access to SKU codes, speeding up picking operations and increasing their accuracy, so as to minimize picking and order preparation errors. All these aspects are critical for both logistics and e-commerce.

Automatic storage systems: Integration between WMS and ERP systems

In the pharmaceutical sector, efficiency and precision must be continuously maintained at top levels. Warehouse software able to organize and optimize logistic flows, to guarantee high performance, and to be easily integrated with the information systems already in place is paramount for any company operating in this sector.

The warehouse management system developed by Modula coordinates and enhances operational and logistical processes as a whole, acquiring logistical data, improving product mapping, and ensuring efficient SKU management.

Modula WMS can be easily and quickly integrated with any company ERP thanks to extensively tested data exchange protocols. In fact, to date Modula has over 10,000 successful installations in the most varied sectors.

Advantages of Modula storage systems for the pharmaceutical sector

The new line of automatic vertical storage solutions, including the Modula Climate Control, Modula Clean Room and Modula Dry systems, together with the standard Modula Lift and the compact Modula Slim, represents the best of Modula in terms of technology and innovation:

  • reduction of the footprint, maximizing storage density;

  • optimization of picking times in order preparation;

  • tracking of all picking operations, identifying who conducted them and monitoring every single access;

  • fast and ergonomic access to items by all personnel;

  • inventory always under control and up to date;

  • temperature and humidity control, for the proper preservation of certain types of products, also including the prevention of condensation;

  • modularity and flexibility, for the storage of goods in different sizes and shapes;

  • remote monitoring of the storage systems;

  • high performance and quality standards, always.

Modula develops and designs modular and flexible automatic vertical and horizontal storage systems, capable of guaranteeing adequate solutions for the management of logistics in any context of use. Learn more about Modula and its modular solutions for warehouse logistics.

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