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As part of its network optimisation strategy to increase its competitiveness in the pharmaceutical industry, Australian pharmaceutical wholesaler, Sigma Healthcare, has automated operations at its new Perth and Brisbane distribution centres (DCs) with the Dematic Goods-to-Person (GTP) Picking Solution.

Sigma selected the fully-automated Dematic solution as the central system to improve operational efficiencies at its two new DCs in Perth and Brisbane.

Sigma’s switch to automation stemmed from previous supply chain challenges experienced from legacy systems deployed at other DCs, which were restricting the ability to continue to improve service delivery to customers.

“Warehouse and logistics have been areas of significant focus for Sigma over the past three years. With the pharmaceutical market as competitive as it is in Australia, it was clear that we needed to optimise these two new DCs to accommodate current and future demands on our supply chain,” said Paul Brown, national operations manager, Logistics, Sigma.

The system is an automated picking and buffering sequence solution, meaning orders are picked, buffered, and then sequenced to delivery vehicles in the specific order required. For Sigma, this process works to optimise the entire picking and delivery process by organising orders accurately and efficiently, and at a much faster rate than manual operations.

“By optimising these new DCs through automation, it was clear that this kind of technology was a natural step forward for Sigma as a business. Pharmacies are constantly pushing Sigma as their sole distributor for increased service levels, which were just not achievable at previous operation rates.

By initiating a more innovative approach to picking operations, we can make the most of our two new DCs with advanced automation technologies ensuring the highest efficiency,” Brown said.

Through the deployment of the Dematic GTP Solution, Sigma has subsequently made significant progress to its initiated business transformation program (Project Pivot), which aims to deliver $100+ million in efficiency gains by the end of the 2021 financial year.

The Dematic solution is uniquely attuned to the pharmaceutical conditions of Sigma’s DCs, with the system able to operate in a temperature-controlled environment, which is required for select pharmaceutical products that must be stored between 2° and 8°C.

“An essential part of this solution’s design was for it to be able to cater for Sigma’s distinctive storage requirements. For example, there are some products that require refrigeration and others that need to be stored in a vault or highly secured environment – with both having a lot of regulations around them,” said Darren Rawlinson, regional solutions development director, APAC, at Dematic.

“By understanding the requirements of the products within the DCs, our solution cohesively combines its automation capabilities with the existing infrastructure of the DCs, which effectively boosts overall productivity without the risk of product damage.”

With the integration of an advanced automated goods-to-person picking system, Dematic helped Sigma achieve high operational efficiency and accuracy rates, as well as improve its service and delivery levels to meet customer needs.

Sigma and Dematic will host a virtual tour of the automated DC in Brisbane on August 4 to provide more insight into the automation project. Click here to register for the virtual event tour.

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