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IMHX to showcase logistics innovations for the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors

Executives with responsibility for storage, handling and distribution in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries will be among thousands of visitors from diverse sectors attending the International Materials Handling Exhibition (IMHX) next year. Taking place at the NEC in Birmingham from 19-22 March 2013, IMHX is a must-see event for logistics professionals.

The pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors are huge contributors to the UK economy and have been somewhat protected from the global economic downturn. The UK pharmaceutical industry achieved a trade surplus of some £7 billion in 2009 – a greater contribution to the UK economy than any other industrial sector – and directly employs some 72,000 people. As for the healthcare sector, although figures released earlier this year show that spending on healthcare in the UK fell as a percentage of GDP between 2009 and 2010, it was still a staggering £140.8 billion – more than double the figure from a decade earlier. Rob Fisher, IMHX Event Director for the show’s co-organiser, Informa Exhibitions, commented, "A number of exhibitors at IMHX 2013 will be showcasing products and expertise geared specifically towards the needs of the pharma and healthcare sector. With thousands of products and services all under one roof, it makes sense for all logistics executives to put the dates in their diaries."

IMHX exhibitor SSI Schaefer Ltd – a leading provider of automated materials handling equipment and integrated storage solutions – has provided two solutions recently for clients in the pharmaceutical wholesale business. The company will be promoting its product range – from plastic totes to high-bay warehousing systems – on stand 18N100 at IMHX. SSI Schaefer recently designed and installed automated handling systems at a new distribution centre for Teva UK Ltd, the UK’s leading generic manufacturer of pharmaceutical goods. The new facility in Castleford, West Yorkshire, was designed to increase storage capacity, improve picking performance and raise customer service levels. The warehouse features an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) with three cranes and 3,500 single-deep storage locations, pallet and tote conveyor systems and a Pick-by-Light system with 13 workstations, all managed by SSI Schaefer’s ‘Convey’ Warehouse Control System. The automation has enabled Teva UK Ltd to reduce labour overheads by moving from a three-shift operation to just two shifts. SSI Schaefer is also in the final stages of installing an advanced automated picking system for Lexon, a leading short-line pharmaceutical wholesaler. Lexon’s new warehouse in Redditch, Worcestershire, will feature a conveyor-based zone-picking system as well as an integrated A-frame automatic picking system.

Supplier of containers for the cold supply chain, Olivo UK Ltd (stand 20B105), has supplied a fleet of its BAC 55 portable insulated containers – as well as some larger Roll 900 containers – to United Drug, Ireland’s premier pharmaceutical distributor and wholesaler. Olivo’s insulated BAC containers are ideal for both food and non-food products that require temperature control in order to maintain product integrity.

The automatic guided vehicle (AGV) manufacturer and supplier, JBT Corporation (stand 19J116), has installed three AGV systems for clients in the pharmaceutical industry recently. The systems – for Novartis UK, Baxter and Perrigo – have all provided savings in terms of labour and equipment, improvements in plant safety, reductions in product damage and increases in productivity. Novartis uses its six AGVs to transport egg tray trolleys used in the culture of vaccines throughout its facility. Operators are able to command the AGVs to use specific trolley pick-up and drop-off locations using handheld PDAs. Baxter uses its AGV solution to move finished goods from the packaging area to shipping, while Perrigo’s 27 AGVs are used for material movement to support production and work in the warehouse. All JBT AGVs are cGMP (current good manufacturing practice) compliant and are able to interface with SAP, and the company is the only AGV supplier that designs and manufactures vehicles in the UK.
Austrian-owned KNAPP (stand 20D30) is the world’s leading supplier of automated warehouse solutions to the pharmaceutical sector. In the UK, clients include The Co-operative Pharmacy, AAH Pharmaceuticals, Alliance Boots, Cahill May Roberts, Phoenix Healthcare and United Drug. KNAPP is celebrating its recent success at the 2012 Grocer Gold Awards for the handling solution it delivered earlier this year to the pharmacy-led retail giant, Boots, at its brand-new £50 million distribution facility in Burton-upon-Trent. For its state-of-the-art solution, KNAPP scooped the ‘Technology & Logistics Supplier of the Year’ accolade. The new facility not only supports order processing for the 25,000 product lines of Boots’ e-commerce operation (boots.com), but also its Christmas gift ranges and its international distribution. The solution features no less than 12 of KNAPP’s OSR Shuttle™ systems, which provide automated storage combined with goods-to-person order picking. Commented Craig Rollason, Head of Sales and Marketing for KNAPP UK Ltd, "This prestigious award recognises the fact that the automated systems we supplied have increased time efficiency by 65% compared to the previous manual operation and improved order traceability through the use of innovative track and trace technology. They also ensure faster, more accurate deliveries to customers."

On stand 20G130, AEB (International) Ltd will be promoting ASSIST4, a comprehensive control suite for global supply chains. AEB has supplied ASSIST4 modules to two companies in the pharmaceutical sector to improve their operations and regulatory compliance. For the German medical technology manufacturer, Erbe Elektromedizin GmbH, AEB supplied ASSIST4 with interfaces to the client’s ERP system for warehouse management, customs management and compliance & risk management. The result is one single solution supporting all warehouse and transport processes; integrated import/export and compliance management; and faster deliveries for customers. For Becton, Dickinson and Company – a global medical technology company – AEB’s ASSIST4 Freight Audit solution has provided automatic freight cost calculation, reallocation and validation; seamless freight e-invoicing; full transparency for freight costs; and increased efficiency along the whole freight management process.

Conveyor Units Ltd, the UK’s largest roller and conveyor manufacturer, has recently invested in a brand-new, 180m² showroom at its premises near Stourport-on-Severn in Worcestershire. The facility is used to demonstrate the company’s full range of conveyors in operation. Part of Conveyor Units’ product offering – the pallet conveyor and aluminium ranges – will also be on display on the firm’s stand (20F80) at IMHX. Aluminium’s natural coating of aluminium oxide provides a highly effective barrier to the ravages of air, temperature, moisture and chemical attack, making the range particularly suitable for the pharmaceutical sector, as well as the food and drink industry.

So many reasons to visit IMHX
The organisers have planned a number of features that will add further appeal to the highly successful IMHX format. The Design 4 Safety competition will return, giving all 400 anticipated exhibitors the opportunity for valuable additional publicity for innovative products and services. The exclusive VIP valet parking scheme will also operate once again, allowing top executives to drive straight up to the show’s entrance, have their vehicle parked securely by a professional driver and enjoy access to the Premier Club Lounge with complimentary refreshments and Internet facilities. The AMHSA Zone, hosted by the Automated Material Handling Systems Association, will return to IMHX and will be even larger than at the 2010 show. Visitors to IMHX 2013 will also be able to benefit from an enhanced free-to-attend seminar programme, which will cover a range of hot industry topics. In addition, for the very first time, the show will feature a Skills & Apprenticeships Zone. With the logistics industry facing a skills shortage, BITA has recently launched the BITA Academy – a dedicated apprenticeship training facility operated in conjunction with City of Bristol College – in order to help find and train the next generation of engineers. By creating a Skills & Apprenticeships Zone and placing particular emphasis on this area on the Friday of the show, the organisers aim to use the industry’s leading event to bring together enthusiastic and talented young people and the companies needing to recruit them.

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