To look at it today, you’d never guess that Spimaco’s gleaming pharmaceutical production and storage facility in Qassim, Saudi Arabia, was once its biggest obstacle to growth. But that was indeed the case. Just a few years back, the facility was a cramped, manual operation that was struggling to keep pace with the company’s daily throughput needs—never mind provide room to grow.
For company leaders, those constraints were fast becoming a cause for concern. That concern eventually led to the decision to give the facility, which was built in 1988, a much-needed makeover and bring it into the 21st century. Spimaco tapped Germany-based Lödige Industries, a manufacturer of material handling solutions, for the job of modernizing the operation. After some consultation, the partners chose the automation and expansion route: that is, they decided to augment the existing facility with the addition of an automated high-bay distribution and storage center.
The first step for the Lödige team was to conduct a detailed analysis of Spimaco’s existing infrastructure and processes in order to determine what equipment and systems would best meet its future needs. Acting as a general contractor for the installation, Lödige then designed and implemented new handling and fulfillment systems—incorporating solutions from different suppliers into one custom-made system where necessary.
The result of its efforts is a new state-of-the-art warehouse that allows for palletizing, picking, automated storage and retrieval, and the dispatch of pharmaceutical goods in full compliance with pharmaceutical regulations. Among other upgrades, the facility features more than 5,000 storage spaces, several hundred meters of conveyors for cases and pallets, two palletizing robots, and over 30 automated shuttle vehicles.
To make sure the new facility ran smoothly across all production lines during the initial period of operation, Lödige maintained operational management of the facility and provided “resident maintenance” services as well.
The results of the project have been impressive. With the new automated systems in place, Spimaco has almost doubled its throughput rates for handling finished goods. In addition, the upgrade has given the company full inventory control and high-quality track-and-trace programs, while improving its ability to handle extremely delicate products governed by strict industry rules and regulations.
In the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, having a highly capable infrastructure has helped the company to grow and prosper. “Our old distribution center was beginning to limit our capabilities. But now with the new facility, we have modernized the existing systems, and our potential for growth has become unlimited,” said Khalid Al-Khattaf, chief executive officer of Spimaco, in a statementstatement. “Since pharmaceutical products are very sensitive, it was important to have a highly reliable solution tailored to our needs.”