ACRs-powered Pharmaceutical Warehouse Gets 80% Extra Storage Capacity
Hai Robotics has implemented its ACR system in a pharmaceutical warehouse of Zhongzhi Pharmaceutical Holdings Ltd, which faced growing pressure from rising labor costs and low picking efficiency. The automation project enabled an 80% storage density increase from the manual picking model.
Hai Robotics has implemented its ACR system in a pharmaceutical warehouse in Zhongshan, Guangdong Province, South China.
Hongkong-listed Zhongzhi Pharmaceutical Holdings Ltd. is a large retail pharmacy chain enterprise with over 200 stores across China. It integrates scientific research, production, and sales of patent medicine, innovative Chinese herbal pieces, and health products. The company saw the long-term headache of its manual-picking warehouse eliminated with the automation project going live recently.
The company, whose business ranges from medicine production to wholesale and retail, faced growing pressure from rising labor costs, low picking efficiency, and a lack of accuracy with manual operation. The company, which allows no picking errors, carried out additional inspections before orders were shipped from its warehouse.
The manual model was also to blame for low storage capacity because the warehouse associates had difficulties reaching medicines stored too high. The company said its warehouse would have big challenges once the number of goods exceeds the limit of 50,000 pieces.
Moreover, the working environment was physically challenging for associates due to the strict ambient temperature control with some granular drugs and oral solutions that should be preserved cool. Warehouse staff often found it uncomfortable to adapt to the abrupt temperature changes in the summer and winter seasons.
Zhongzhi expected that the ACR-powered warehouse could achieve better performance with higher storage density, increased picking accuracy, and improved manpower productivity and bring relief to the warehouse associates who were tied to strenuous manual work.
80% increased storage capacity
With the deployment of 24 HaiPick A42 robots, 13,000 storage locations were enabled, including 4.2-meter shelves on a floor area totaling 1,600 sqm.
Upon receiving a system order, the HaiPick robot will move to pick the target case from the shelf and carry the case to the sorting area, where an associate will take out ordered items from the case to pack and ship. When the sorting is done, the robot will turn the empty totes back onto the shelf.
Seven HaiPort-powered workstations, which can automatically load and unload storage cases from the robots to a conveyor belt, were also implemented to increase order-fulfillment speed and boost the warehouse throughput. With the capability of loading four to eight cases in 3 seconds from an ACR and simultaneously unloading the same number of cases in 5 seconds, a single workstation can be expected to handle up to 900 cases per hour.
The company said that the deployment of the ACR system had enabled an 80% storage density increase from the manual picking model. Meanwhile, the company is now able to handle wholesale and retail orders in one warehouse and is seeing a faster turnover rate.
The ACR system has transformed the labor-intensive “Person-to-Goods” model into an efficient “Goods-to-Person” model so that warehouse staff can focus on more productive work.
Li Huimin, 25, who has worked in the warehouse for more than a year, said she no longer has to walk back and forth to check orders since robots were put into use. As a result, Li, who is also taking a degree in a vocational school, said that it has become easier for her, and she has more energy to take her studies after work.