A new distribution centre will lead world
Mr Joel Williams, API’s general manager in charge of developing the new super-warehouse, says it will be in operation early in the new year when it will open the way for the company to expand into new fields.
Housing a $45 million inventory covering more than 25,000 items, the new facility at Camellia, in Sydney’s west, will be a model that API will roll out nationwide to its other warehouses around the country.
“This gives Australia a pharmaceutical distribution system equal to the world’s best,” Joel Williams says.
“It has 22 dispatch lanes easily capable of handling orders for 102 delivery runs a day. Service will be more accurate and more timely. The timing of the delivery runs means that the work is bunched into two relatively short peak periods, one in the morning the next in the early afternoon.”
“We will even have a specially dedicated fast-lane loading dock. A pharmacy can ring with a special request and it will be dispatched by special delivery.”
“Its new operating technology will provide commercial benefits worth some $6 million a year and open the way for us to establish a 3PL distribution operation to service the supply chain needs of multinational healthcare and pharmaceutical companies.”
Simon Wrangham, who has been leading a team of eight experts from Logistics Bureau – the supply chain consultants helping API create its new facility, says the innovations include:
- Radio controlled stock-receiving and put-away
- Computerised pick-to-voice-order picking
- An automatic A Frame for picking 30 per cent of pick hits
- A large security vault for dangerous drugs
- Extensive freezer and refrigerated rooms for special drugs
- A vertical refrigerated carousel for storing and picking cool, low-temperature drugs.
- A 25C controlled climate throughout the 30,0002 metre facility
- Integrated 3PL space.
From the logistics viewpoint the initial brief began at the facility’s design stage, progressed to helping prepare tender documents to build and outfit it, followed by developing the criteria on which to select suppliers.
Eventually construction of the building was awarded to Bovis LendLease and the job of building its kilometres of racks and shelving went to a consortium led by Seimens Dematic.
Simon Wrangham, of Logistics Bureau, has been working as the project manager integrating the work of Siemens Dematic, the builders and other suppliers such as Kardex VCA and Schaeffer Peem.
Among tenders that needed to be prepared and awarded was one for the coming move from API’s present Northmead warehouse – won by Atlantis, and another for almost $8 million of forklifts – won by BT – to operate in the new centre.
Several new warehouse management practices have had to be created to handle all the new technology. Joel Williams says the entire receiving process was re-written and process mapped.
“Every new process was mapped using Visio Flowcharting and then a standard operating procedure developed for it,” he says.
“The entire receipt, put-away, and picking procedure are all being worked through and a standard operating procedure developed for the Process Maps. This work has been led by Simon Wrangham and the Logistics Bureau team.”
“When the new facility opens we expect it to be the lowest-cost warehouse in the country and as efficient as anything in Europe where the world leaders are in Switzerland and Germany.”
“Training lines for the new procedures and equipment – including the pick-to-voice system – have been running for several months at our existing Northmead warehouse.”
Last but far from least are the spacious offices – 44002 metres – housing the centre’s invoicing and billing staff and their systems. Management of the entire facility is focused on a separate control centre overlooking the storage areas, the sortation lines, the dispatch points, and the loading docks.