Pharmaceutical Warehouse Requirements: How do you design Pharma Storage and Retrieval?

Logistics is often overlooked, although it’s a common belief. The logistics of moving products from A to B are often overlooked by regulators, businesses, and the general public. Many pages are dedicated to licensing and applying for drugs in the Code of Federal Regulations for Food and Drugs Title 21. There are also requirements for labeling, paperwork, and manufacturing. It provides little guidance about healthcare logistics companies design and requirements. The only suggestion is for a warehouse layout. This specifies that pharmaceutical warehouses should operate on a first-in, first-out basis to prevent drugs from aging in storage.

Pharmaceutical companies and their logistic managers are left with little to no control when it comes to designing and implementing a pharmaceutical warehouse. They must follow best practices in pharmaceutical handling and design warehouses that safely store and deliver pharmaceuticals. Logistics managers are often forced to work with outdated equipment and facilities that are not an up-to-the task. There are strong arguments to ensure that your warehouse is well-designed, automated, and equipped with the most current technology.

Planning an Efficient Pharmaceutical Warehouse Layout

The layout of a warehouse is key to its efficient operation. Pharmaceutical corporations have unique challenges when designing warehouses or distribution centers. This is due to the nature and products of their products. Pharmaceuticals can be affected by temperature changes and bacteria. Sometimes, lighting can cause damage to pharmaceuticals. Also, pharmaceuticals should be stored in a way that allows for easy access to a first-in/first-out system. This will ensure that these valuable and costly products are safe from theft and intentional contamination. This unique requirement means that there are many things to consider when setting up a warehouse of pharmaceutical storage.

There are two types of warehouse workflow patterns. The “through” pattern directs the incoming pharmaceutical inventories to one side of the warehouse, and out the other side. A circular or “U shape” warehouse pattern allows traffic to flow around the storage areas at the center. Input and output are done through the same entrance/exit. Both patterns place high-demand items closer to the loading docks, while lower-demand items are further away. High-demand items in a “through” warehouse are placed near the exit and entrance, while lower-demand items are close to the exterior walls. High-demand items in a warehouse with a U-pattern are located close to loading bays. Items placed further away from doors are the case when their frequency decreases. The back wall is where the lowest-demand items will be placed. Each layout has its advantages and disadvantages.

Through Warehouse Advantages

  • Linear Design Because products travel only in one direction, it is easier to make sure a first-in/first-out shipping schedule is followed.
  • Multiple Channels –Warehouse throughput may be divided into multiple channels that all flow in the same direction, making it less likely to pick the wrong item.
  • Discrete Temperature Areas: Different lines of throughput can be designated as temperature-controlled areas or cold storage areas without overlapping with each other.
Circular Warehouse Advantages

  • Combined Trips: A forklift can be used to retrieve inventory and put away a load in one trip since it will return to the same place.
  • Cross Docking: Products can be shipped immediately from the loading dock without having to put them away or detail a fork truck for a special trip in case of a rush.
  • Enhanced Control of Space: Because there is only one entrance and exit to the warehouse the security and the atmosphere can be better maintained.

A thorough warehouse will be the best choice for warehouses that deal with pharmaceuticals. It is required that first-in/first-out shipping be done. The linear product flow facilitates the organization and precise picking. Through-type warehouses are not common. These warehouses require access roads at both the output and input ends. Most warehouses have one entry point. However, some storage and retrieval methods can provide linear throughput within the warehouse regardless of the external form.

Meet Pharmaceutical Warehouse Requirements With Equipment and Automation

Pallet Racks can make your warehouse layout more efficient. Pallet racks increase the product storage capacity of your warehouse by increasing cube utilization. These racks can be combined with a pallet mole, also known as a pallet shuttle, to eliminate aisles in pharmaceutical warehouses. This automation is simple and cheap and operates on a linear basis.

A pallet mole, a simple device that runs on a track, lifts pallets from below and then runs them along with the rack to the next slot. The pallet is then placed there and returned to its input position. A pallet mole system means that the first load to be shipped out is the one placed on the racks. This means that pallet moles can be used to create a warehouse that is “through”, regardless of its external layout. This system also offers many advantages over the other major warehouse layouts, including:

  • Discrete channels: Every row on a pallet rack can serve a designated pharmaceutical. This allows for multichannel warehouses with little cross-purpose work.
  • Temperature Zones Each temperature zone can have a pallet rack or a shuttle system. This allows for maximum volumes and efficient linear flow in all areas of the warehouse.
  • Combined Movements: A forklift may be used to enter a product into a storage system on one side, and then pick up the product from the other side in a U-shaped arrangement.

This configuration allows for linear movement to be restricted to storage and retrieval areas. The warehouse also has one loading and unloading point. It is possible to maintain greater warehouse security and cross-docking capabilities. A pallet rack and pallet mole combination bring together the best aspects of both warehouse layouts.

However, it does have one major disadvantage. It can be expensive and time-consuming to take out all products from affected channels and clear the issue. Getting the most from supply chain automation requires that you only use reliable and strong equipment.

Plastic pallets are required for warehouse automation. Plastic shipping platforms are stronger than wood and have the same weight, dimensions, strength, and weight as wood. Plastic’s reliability is crucial to keep automation running smoothly, without interruptions and product damage. Plastic pallets can be cleaned and disinfected before they are used. This helps to protect pharmaceuticals and supply chain equipment (like pallet moles and racks- ) from contamination. Although pharmaceutical companies may determine the requirements for their warehouses, plastic pallets can help them set a high standard.

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About the Author: Debra Scott