case study, united drug, dublin, ireland, 2018, healthcare, small parts,

Case Study United Drug

Due to the continuous growth of the pharmaceutical supply branch and to maintain the market leadership, an extension of the existing distribution center in Dublin was necessary. SSI SCHAEFER was chosen to plan and install the new warehouse. The intralogistics expert was commissioned to upgrade the picking system from 7,000 to 12,000 order lines per hour, integrate parts of the existing warehouse and automate large parts of the system.

Extending the system during operation was one of the central challenges for implementing the new warehouse under a timescale of only 18 months.

To extend the existing system during day-to-day operation, SSI SCHAEFER implemented the new installation with a modular solution in five steps. With a product range of about 10,000 items, the overall system has been designed to process more than 6,000 orders per day.

“SSI SCHAEFER allowed us to maintain our day-to-day operation during the retrofit and extension, ensuring a smooth transition to the new technology. We focused on cost efficiency and a sensible degree of automation. SSI SCHAEFER provided a clever solution to achieve a considerable increase with the same footprint during operation.“

Sean Coyle, Divisional Managing Director United Drug Supply Chain Services


  • Significantly increase picking performance from 7,000 to 12,000 order lines/h

  • Avoid idle times during picking process and significantly increase picking efficiency

  • System for delivery tracking to be prepared for tracking and tracing guidelines of pharmaceutical products

  • Clear and structured storage process to increase quality

  • Space optimization throughout the warehouse

  • Replace manual replenishment process

  • Highest possible redundancy

  • Options for future extensions

  • The cartons are supplied on pallets to the Goods-in Stations equipped with pallet lifting tables where they are repacked into storage bins by the goods-in staff.

  • Fast and medium movers are transported on the conveying system to the SSI Miniload with two aisles for storage. The remaining products are stored in the SSI Carousel, which can accommodate 11,000 bins.

  • The orders are started automatically; manual picking from flow racks is accomplished using RF technology. Fast movers are picked from the fully automatic picking system A-Frame, which is equipped with a double filling point and connected to the SSI Miniload by flow racks.

  • Picking from the SSI Carousel with two connected Get and Pick Stations is done according to the goods-to-person principle. A picking performance of 1,000 picks per hour is achieved at each work station.

Once order picking has been completed, bins are conveyed to the shipping preparation area. The Document Drop automatically adds delivery notes to the bins that are then buffered temporarily in one of the four SSI Carousel. Drop sequence sortation optimizes the goods-out order of the bins in the shipping area. Bins and full case cartons are supplied to the pharmacies in one delivery.

The system is perfected by the self-developed logistics software WAMAS®, that controls the flow of goods in the system. Thus, performance of material flow and throughput rate, as well as the balanced load of conveying system and different work stations can be optimized.

United Drug Wholesale is Ireland‘s leading distributor of pharmaceutical items such as medication, health and care products. The company is part of the McKesson group specializing in healthcare services worldwide. United Drug has branches in Dublin, Ballina, Limerick and Belfast to supply public pharmacies as well as hospital pharmacies in Ireland and the UK with the necessary pharmaceutical items.

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Expansion and automation of pharmaceutical warehouse

United Drug Supply Chain Service is Ireland's premier distributor of pharmaceuticals such as medications and health and beauty products. The company is part of the international Group UDG Healthcare that is specialized in the entire service provider portfolio in the health care sector – supply chain, packaging, sales, marketing and medical technology. With its branches in Dublin, Ballina, Limerick and Belfast, United Drug Supply Chain Services supplies Ireland and Great Britain with essential pharmaceuticals. In 2012, SSI SCHAEFER was commissioned to increase the picking system from 7,000 lines to 12,000 lines, integrate some of the existing system components, and to automate a large part of the system in order to increase efficiency and enable the company to maintain their market leadership. Today the distribution center processes a product range of more than 10,200 items and approximately 6,000 packages are shipped every day.


United Drug

United Drug

1.9 MB

Lasting effects: Solutions for Healthcare & Cosmetics. Automated processes,

Lasting effects: Solutions for Healthcare & Cosmetics. Automated processes, guaranteed security and optimized supply capability.

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