Case Study Symbion

Partnering with Symbion to fulfill pharmacy customer expectations by delivering in-full and on time competitively

Warehouse worker filling A-frame equipment with stock from stock totes

Partnering with Symbion to fulfil pharmacy customer expectations

Symbion is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the EBOS Group Limited, a large and diversified Australasian marketer, wholesaler and distributor of healthcare, medical and pharmaceutical products. Simply described by Simon Bunde, Executive General Manager, Symbion is in the business of distributing medicines to pharmacies and hospitals, always knowing there is a patient or consumer with medical needs at the end of the chain.

In August 2019, Symbion’s new state-of-the-art warehouse and distribution center in Brisbane, Australia was officially opened. The site incorporates the latest in automation technology developed by one of the global leaders of intralogistics, SSI SCHAEFER. The facility operates with industry-leading accuracy and efficiency, ensuring that Symbion is ideally positioned to support the future needs of Australia’s changing healthcare market and can continue to deliver for patients.

The ambitious solution designed and delivered was customer-bespoke involving a unique integration of SSI SCHAEFER technologies to accommodate customer-specified peak performance, high throughput and fast response times. Due to the automation and efficiency of the system, the time between order receipt and shipment can be regularly as short as 45 minutes, and the system processes 9,000 orders a day.

“It’s quite amazing to see what sort of solutions teams can come up with through collaboration and having interesting and challenging debates about real world problems that we try to solve. We were collectively quite innovative in the way we approached it.

We are very lucky to have partners like SSI SCHAEFER who assist us and understand what we go through. We do leverage off their knowledge a lot to make sure that whatever is designed is up to date and incorporates the latest thinking, as well as our own thinking.”

Simon Bunde
Executive General Manager - Strategic Operations & Innovation
EBOS Group Ltd


The Brisbane facility includes the single-level shuttle system SSI Cuby arranged in the patented 3D-MATRIX Solution®. The system consists of five SSI Cuby aisles, over 100 SSI Cuby shuttles and high-performance, ergonomically optimised goods-to-person two-level Advanced Pick Stations. It also features the latest security and storage arrangements for fridge lines, dangerous goods and specialty medicines.

A collaborative development of a solution to deliver a system that is scalable and can grow with Symbion’s business expansion plans. This facility provides industry leading service levels in a competitive market place. The collaborative partnership continued through construction, commissioning, software testing and ramp-up support.

System Key Figures

  • Building area: 9,500 m²

  • SSI Cuby footprint: over 1,500 m²

  • Stock lines: up to 20,000

  • Order lines per day: up to 85,000

  • Fast order turnaround times, even on peak days

  • High picking productivity and accuracy

  • Minimal shortages and maximum degree of order fulfilment

  • High resilience and redundancy to ensure continuity of supply

  • Capacity to deal with future business growth without additional capital expenditure

  • High space utilization

  • Fast ramp-up time and migration from previous site

  • Functionally rich Warehouse Control System

This 3D-MATRIX Solution® design means that any bin can be delivered to any pick station, increasing picking efficiency, enhancing flexibility, and reducing order processing time. It also enhances stock accessibility meaning minimum stock levels and a larger SKU range can be kept.

The goods-to-person system enables operators to pick directly to the order containers from the two-level Advanced Pick Stations. The ergonomic solution from SSI SCHAEFER has been specifically developed for this task and makes goods to person picking highly efficient. It provides clear user guidance and monitors picking accuracy via light curtains to ensure the right product is placed in the right order bin.

The Brisbane facility incorporates an A-Frame over 60 m long. The SSI SCHAEFER A-Frame is an automated order picking solution which enables rapid processing of multiple orders, even under peak loads. At Symbion Brisbane there are 1,500 configurable product channels and the A-Frame is replenished via the adjacent carton live storage for bins, which is automatically replenished by the SSI Cuby shuttles.

The order finishing area includes Strapping machines, Lid Closing machines, Document Drops for various shipping documentation and despatch ramps at outbound. The incoming goods area consists of automatically supplied decanting stations and features a tare scale to ensure loading accuracy and tolerance checking. The site also incorporates a vault for controlled and dangerous medications, a fridge for refrigerated items and a pallet racking area for bulk storage and non-binnable items.

The system, for the first time in Australia, includes WEASEL® automated guided vehicles transporting cased and binned goods across a pedestrian walkway to ensure maximum space utilization and minimal disruption to Symbion staff.

The automated system is managed by WAMAS® logistics software. This includes the A-Frame, SSI Cuby shuttle system, 3D-MATRIX Solution®, goods-to-person two level Advanced Pick Stations and RF picking. The WEASEL® AGVs and the other various handling machines in the system are also managed by WAMAS®, as are the management screens and system reporting.

To provide optimal system performance, Symbion has opted for SSI SCHAEFER’s Resident Maintenance Module, a comprehensive service philosophy whereby SSI SCHAEFER service engineers are located on the site. This proactive service ensures any issues that arise are attended to immediately, delivering maximum up-time and optimal performance of the system, which are critical factors for the success of the project.

"A simple and robust system."

“Scalability and flexibility is a key part of the design process and the way we lay it out does anticipate the future needs of the business. One of the key benefits for us is that we can do a number of roles from a single technology. We have access to all the products that we can call out in any sequence at very high speeds. It is quite a simple and robust system. We are very pleased with it.”

Simon Bunde
Executive General Manager - Strategic Operations & Innovation
EBOS Group Ltd

Symbion Brisbane Australia Pharma site

Case Study Symbion Brisbane

In August 2019, Symbion’s new state-of-the-art warehouse and distribution center in Brisbane, Australia was officially opened.

Partnering with Symbion

To fulfill pharmacy customer expectations

Do You Have Questions or Remarks?