University Pharmacy has been using voice picking solution for several years at its central warehouse to pick orders for pharmacies and corporate customers. At the beginning of 2015 they decided to serve customers even better by introducing pharmacy services online.
"When the decision was made to go ahead with online services, we were fully prepared in terms of logistics, because we had been using Optiscan's voice picking solution for several years. If it had not been for voice picking system, we would not have been able to deal with the online orders so flexibly," says Kai Trast, Head of Logistics at University Pharmacy. Thanks to online pharmacy service, University Pharmacy's volumes have risen considerably.
"The number of orders has tripled comparing to the period before online services. Small online orders, averaging 3-4 products, can be combined, so the warehouse employees can pick products for about a dozen customers at the same time. This would not have been possible without voice picking solution. We have been able to grow without increasing personnel resources," continues Trast.
Personal service at online pharmacy
University Pharmacy's centralized data services have a group of pharmacists who provide personal customer service to online customers. Online pharmacy can deliver both non-description drugs, and drugs for which an electronic prescription has been made. Prescription drugs can only be delivered to customers who have registered as University Pharmacy's unique customers. The pharmacists will respond to customer messages, phone calls and chat queries, and serve customers whenever prescription drugs are ordered. This kind of personal service is actually required by Finnish law.
No mistakes allowed!
When it comes to health products and especially medicines, there is no room for error. The system has been made so airtight that, for example, anyone ordering mild painkillers can never by accident be sent stronger painkillers that may affect their ability to drive. "We have a number of checks in place to ensure that customers get exactly the correct products. Drug safety is always the most crucial thing for us," assures Trast, and goes on to explain that the first and most important method of checking is voice picking solution. In practice this means that persons picking products confirm with their own voice by means of a control number that they are taking the correct item.They also have to repeat the number of each picked product to ensure that the right amount is sent to the customer. Because multiple orders (products of many customers) are being picked at the same time, there is also a customer-specific position number to ensure that correct products have been placed in the correct cart. Once the items for a customer delivery have been picked, the pharmacist double-checks the details before the delivery, attaching the details and dosages on the packages, complete with any necessary usage instructions.The pharmacist updates the dosage information on the electronic prescription.
Online pharmacy would not be able to operate unless several information systems worked seamlessly together. University Pharmacy's ERP system, iScala, has been integrated with Optiscan's voice picking solution, into which all prescription drug and over-the-counter orders are channeled. The picking system analyses the orders, separating those that contain large products and those with more than the permitted number of products. Products requiring refrigeration are also picked separately. Other products can be picked together for multiple customers. "Any products that have been picked will be deducted from the iScala warehouse balance using the voice picking system, meaning that the online shop's product availability information will be kept up to date at all times. This means that customers placing an order can always see whether any given product is available at the time," explains the system's main user Mervi Salmela.
A warehouse worker picks around64 items per hour, which is a high number considering that an individual order has an average of just 3.5 products.
"The voice picking system has helped boosting volumes and made picking more efficient by speeding up the initial and final routines. Voice picking system has also helped to ensure that no errors are made at the picking stage. This is the only way such a major volume increase would have been possible," says Trast.
University Pharmacy's warehouse workers pick goods using the latest Talkman A720-series terminal devices designed for voice picking solution. The new product family has been updated in a number of ways: the SRX2 headset is wireless, the product development has focused on flexible and quick activation at the beginning of a shift (TouchConnectTM), ambient noise reduction(SoundSenseTM) and easy system updates (VoiceCatalyst 2.1).