Supporting workflows in pharmaceutical logistics

The transportation of drugs and raw materials for the pharmaceutical industry is demanding: in addition to securing freight handling and on-time delivery, often continuous cooling within a defined temperature range must be ensured during transport and storage. Interruptions in the cold chain can be extremely expensive since the value of individual shipments can be over €1 M. A video system from Hexagon helps pharmaceutical logistics company Frigo-Trans monitor such critical processes and avoid costs. Founded in 1988 and based in Fußgönheim near Ludwigshafen in southwestern Germany, the company today employs 125 people at locations in Germany, Switzerland and Greece. Frigo-Trans cooperates with some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies and has successfully positioned itself as a medium-sized, owner-managed company with an international scope. It achieved its current reputation by offering innovative solutions and concepts - which led to winning the prestigious industry “Cool Chain Award” three times already. Particular attention has been paid to the targeted use of modern technologies to optimize process quality and to monitor it continuously.

The challenge

In pharmaceutical logistics, certifications play a crucial role. Only companies that fulfill the required quality standards are considered by pharmaceutical companies as their service partners.

Some of these standards – e.g., the guidelines issued by the Transported Assets Protection Association – require the use of CCTV to secure the company site and its buildings. In order to receive the TAPA FSR certificate for a storage area, a suitable video system had to be proven for the central warehouse in Fußgönheim. As part of the “Cool Chain Control System” – a unique concept developed by Frigo-Trans that ensures the smooth interplay of the components fleet, warehouses, staff and technology to ensure an uninterrupted cold chain – video technology plays a key role to support the internal processes.

There were quite a few technical demands on the video system to be installed: the video system had to be IP-based, offering maximum flexibility, running on standard hardware and providing easy scalability. A great emphasis was also put on reliability – in case of a server failure, the video system should continue to operate without significant interruptions. And finally it was necessary to have a simple interface to the Frigo-Trans warehouse management system.

The solution

During a visit to the security show in Essen (Germany), Frigo-Trans met the installer Moog Pieper and was impressed by the company’s range of services. The video management software Qognify VMS that was part of Moog Pieper’s solution pitch also played a key role as it covers both, security and process support – thus meeting both crucial prerequisites of Frigo-Trans.

Using Qognify VMS as the heart of the installation, site and building security can be reliably implemented. Expanding this base with the Qognify VMS logistics solution, which combines video recordings with the scan data obtained from business processes, makes this data more transparent. The software can be easily adapted and expanded over time. New cameras, new company locations or new functions such as license plate recognition can be added at any time. In addition, Qognify VMS has a built-in failover solution that can compensate for the failure of a management or recording server.

Over 200 cameras are currently in use to monitor the central location in Fußgönheim. They reliably monitor the terrain access, the parking areas, the warehouse, the semi-trailers and the data center. The system has no dedicated operator stations – in cases where events need to be reviewed or when researching operations, the warehouse manager, the security officer or even executives can access the image data according to their user rights directly from their workplaces.

The result

he Qognify VMS logistics solution helps Frigo-Trans keep an eye on the processes in order to optimize them, save costs and increase customer satisfaction.

The monitoring of the storage area is of particular importance. Here it is important to be able to resolve cases of loss or damage quickly. The loading and unloading processes are documented seamlessly by cameras pointing into the trailers. During the process of storing or removing palettes of a particular customer, the shipment is captured from three sides using a 4k camera in a so-called photo area. These images are then linked with the pallet identification number in the warehouse management system via the Qognify VMS logistics solution. If a customer has a complaint about irregularities regarding a particular consignment, it can be investigated in a matter of seconds. When entering the corresponding identification number in the logistics client, a user can immediately see, when and in what state the goods were stored and into which truck they were loaded. This helps to quickly resolve responsibility for damage or loss thus avoiding costs for replacement or penalties.

Concerning corporate security, the Qognify VMS video system is ready to fulfill the corresponding TAPA criteria. It therefore represents an essential building block for certification.

The customer

Reiner Roß, Head of Administration at Frigo-Trans, is very satisfied with the result of the video project: “We’ve made a very good choice with the system – the Qognify VMS software is very robust and reliable. Due to the fact that in pharmaceutical logistics sometimes assets of a very support high value have to be moved, the use of a video system, which supports our processes and helps to quickly clear loss and damage cases, pays off in no time. With Hexagon we are also lucky to have found a reliable partner who always caters to our requirements as a customer.”