The management of pharmaceutical products in a warehouse must take into account the need for storage not only of medicines, but also of biological products and active ingredients that must be checked until they arrive at the point of sale. One of the most important peculiarities, from this point of view, must be identified in the inventory control, which must be associated with the maximum possible traceability. These are two factors that must make it possible, in the context of pharmaceutical logistics, to immediately identify the batches of drugs that have irregularities or that, in any case, show anomalies. It is therefore clear that the purpose of this measure is preventive.
What are the rules?
Pharmaceutical logistics companies are required to adapt to the provisions contained in the GDP, which refer to the main requirements for the logistics areas. For example, this involves keeping a register of data related to the various products, but also the use of quality management systems that aim to mitigate the risks associated with logistics activities. Obviously, the personnel involved must undergo specialized training, focused in particular on the hygiene rules to be followed and on the regulations. Then, control systems are needed both internally and externally, so that it is possible not only to detect any anomalies, but also to apply all corrections, necessary to promptly remedy the errors.
The challenges posed by picking in the pharmaceutical sector are many, and have to do with the small size of the items, with the large number of references that have to be managed and from the production lot. These are three factors that involve additional complications also for everything concerning the preparation of orders: in particular, the considerable amount of codes available in the warehouse can slow down the picking procedures.
We can not forget that certain storage parameters require that the goods are stored in trays or boxes (small-format loading units). Also for this reason, the warehouse must be integrated with systems that make it easier to access SKU codes.
The control of drugs:
The logistics of pharmaceutical products makes warehousing a priority for all the players involved: producers on the one hand and distributors on the other. With the help of WMS platforms, it is possible to prevent and avoid possible stock outages, since these tools are able to ensure real-time inventory monitoring of the warehouse.
The WMS themselves prove to be valuable allies for the drug supply chain, that is, everything related to the organization of shipments and the monitoring of incoming and outgoing goods: a check that takes place automatically thanks to automatic control stations. In addition, it is important that a specific mapping is performed for all items, based on logistical criteria such as expiration dates or the turnover rate.
The quality control:
Pharmaceutical items require the application of specific storage conditions, and this is the reason why they are subjected to strict controls, so that consumers can be sure of buying products that do not pose any risk to their health.
The accuracy of quality control is a necessity that cannot be ignored, which is why the sterilization areas and quarantine areas are configured as special areas in which healthcare products can be stored.
Among other things, it is necessary to be sure that the logistics operators act in accordance with the requirements of the sector and that the rules for transport are respected for everything related to temperatures, labeling, packaging and containers.
Security is a fundamental aspect for intralogistics in the pharmaceutical sector, and is the factor that guides the design and development of pharmaceutical warehouses, which must allow optimal use of space, whose layout is intended to affect the quality of operations.
A correct management of potential risks, which also concern the transport of drugs, can have important repercussions from the point of view of company costs. Deterioration of goods in the various steps of the supply chain is a typical problem in the storage of thermolabile medicines, and can be a source of even significant losses.
To be sure that the cold chain can always be guaranteed, it is necessary to check the friction points related to the various moments of transport. The means of transport must be prepared with passive and active control systems: whether they are refrigerated, refrigerators or isothermal, what matters is that they are able to maintain the necessary temperature.
Case history: LCS for pharmaceutical logistics
LCS has taken care of significant changes to the pharmaceutical product handling system on behalf of several companies in the pharma sector, both to ensure compliance with regulations and to improve efficiency standards.
In particular, by reading one of the latest case histories, it is possible to learn more about how LCS intervened in an existing automatic warehouse context by operating on different areas of the plant in the following ways:
- insertion of an automatic pallet change system (from wood to aluminum and vice versa)
- by implementing an exit from the automatic warehouse, which integrated the two already present
- by installing an automatic shuttle to directly connect the warehouse head and the interface points to the production and packaging departments.
- by modifying the flows in the header to ensure optimal management of oversized items and entrances to the automatic warehouse.
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