How automation in material handling of Raw Materials, Packing Material and Finished Goods worked wonders for a pharma company.
India is one of the leading pharmaceutical producers and accounts for 20% of the global exports in generics. The country’s pharmaceutical industry is expected to expand at a CAGR of 22.42 per cent over 2015-20 to reach USD55 billion and hence is one of the fastest growing industries. Favorable policies such as reduction in approval time for new facilities, support for technology upgrades and approval for 100% FDI show that the pharmaceutical sector has immense potential for growth.
Driven by this growth, the warehousing sector has emerged as a major contributor towards the growing Indian Logistic Industry. However, this growth has thrown up plenty of challenges to the warehousing sector. While at one end companies have to meet the demand of high throughput due to enhanced demand from the market, at the other end they need dense storage to cater to the fluctuations of demand, forex fluctuation impacting procurement and storage of imported raw materials and so on. Critical parameters like Inventory Management, Efficient and Accurate Operations in a Controlled Atmosphere, Integration with ERP and Compliance to Statutory Norms have gained prime importance in warehousing facilities to ensure client delight resulting in growth of business.
The case study is a transformation story of one of Godrej Consoveyo Logistics Automation Ltd’s (GCLA) clients, a leading pharmaceutical company with an established presence across the globe. Their aim was to ensure better growth in coming years and due to the farsighted vision of their leaders they quickly realised that this could be achieved by taking baby steps in the arena of warehousing automation. GCLA was approached. After coming on board, the GCLA team carried a thorough study of warehousing operations encompassing vital factors like desired storage capacity, throughput, material flow and automation needs.
- Production process being carried out at multiple levels
- Multiple lines for Raw Materials, Packing Material and Finished Goods that are present at different locations
- Common bay between the warehouse and the production facility that needed to be kept free for movement of materials
- Complete integration of four different buildings, i.e., material receipt docks, production facility, warehouse and the dispatch docks
- Operations through inbuilt WMS (Warehouse Management System) integrated with customer ERP (SAP), and
- Compliance to statutory norms like GMP (Quality Assurance) and system assists in FDA Audit.
After a thorough study and evaluation of multiple warehousing options, the company opted for the latest and best warehousing technology, viz., AS/RS. A warehouse of 104m (L) x 20m (W) x 28.9m (H) was planned and built which accommodated 6700 pallet locations and delivered high throughput of 68 pallets per hour with only 2 dedicated Automated Stacker Cranes.
The solution proposed an integration of the material receipt docks, production facility, warehouse and dispatch docks. The raw material and packing material (both primary and secondary) are input from the material receipt docks, palletised and sent to the warehouse for storage. The warehouse comprises of an AS/RS system which is a double deep storage system to ensure maximum storage density. After the pallet is stored in the AS/RS system, the inventory gets updated.
When there is a call from the production facility for the raw material and packing material, the AS/RS will retrieve the particular pallet and deliver it to the production facility via the proposed conveying loop. As the production facility consists of multiple levels, an Autolift is required to transfer the pallet to the particular level from where it has been called. Once it reaches the desired production level, the production process is initiated.
After the finished good is manufactured in the production facility, it is then palletised and transferred back to the warehouse for storage via the Autolift and conveyor loop.
From there it is transferred to the dispatch docks from where it is sent to the suppliers.
This entire process is controlled and monitored by the Warehouse Management System (WMS) software. The WMS is standalone software for warehouse operations, where all the functionalities are independent of other existing Enterprises software. The basic functionalities of the WMS is to manage and control the equipment, location and inventory management enabling tracking of the material, generation of reports such as production reports, inventory reports and truck management reports and diagnosis and remote trouble shooting.
The WMS can interface with various data logging sensors, i.e., RFID, Barcode readers, Barcode printers, weighing system, etc., thus facilitating ease in integration with automated warehouse processes. Optionally the WMS can be integrated with the existing ERP system through selective online data transaction as done in this project where the WMS is integrated with the customer’s ERP, i.e., SAP.
Scope of supply
- Solution Conceptualisation & Design
- Two units dedicated Stacker Crane (29 mtr tall)
- 6700 Storage locations double deep system
- SRP pallets
- Other peripheral equipments (Auto Lifts, Shuttle car, Scissor Lift, Conveyors)
- Warehouse Management System
- Integration with ERP (SAP)
- Project Management, and
- Training & Manuals.
The solution offers complete integration of production facility with the automated warehouse system through battery of conveyors, shuttle car and vertical automated lifts. This in turn offers significant savings in operational cost and several other benefits to client, as under:
- Guaranteed throughput meeting input-output demand of production facility & dispatch
- Seamless movement of material to and fro from warehouse to production facility due to integration of end-of-line with automated warehouse
- High storage density due to automated warehouse of 29mtrs enabling more space for manufacturing activities
- Minimal human intervention ensuring proper hygiene, reduction of damages and adherence to cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practices) norms
- Integration of WMS (Warehouse Management Software) with client ERP ensures faster and accurate operations
- Since the automated equipments does not involve use of batteries and hydraulics typical problems of spillage and battery leakages are taken care of
- The automated warehouse system is customised using key software processes to meet the client requirement and thereby the system is highly energy efficient
- Eliminate the risk of human error, and
- Significant reduction in air conditioning load due to compact warehouse.
While technology has potential to provide enhanced efficiency, it is important to support it with right design and processes to unlock its true potential. Opting for an AS/RS system would enable customers to leap to global levels quickly.
Co-creation of solutions with System Integrators helps in the process of creating optimum solution. Implementation of the right automation solution will enhance efficiency and ensure ROI. Since these are customised solutions, working closely with experts in this field would do wonders for your business.
Pic1: Warehousing sector is a major contributor for growth of Indian Logistic Industry;
Pic2: A typical warehouse (for illustration only).