The newly introduced RX Unit Pick Workcell is a fully automated robotic pharmacy order fulfillment system capable of handling thousands of different kinds of pre-packaged medicine with 100% verification for mail order delivery direct to customers or to central fill locations.
Developed jointly by the Motoman Robotics Division of Yaskawa America Inc. (info.motoman.com), R/X Automation Solutions (rxas.com) and Universal Robotics (universalrobotics.com), the RX Unit Pick Workcell recognizes each item, verifies the unique National Drug Code (NDC) and prepares it for automatic patient labeling. Its compact design enables it to be integrated into existing order fulfillment processes either as a stand-alone solution or added to other RXAS automation equipment.
Key design criteria included 100% verification of all drugs and the flexibility to recognize thousands of items at high throughput rates. The final result blended RXAS’s decade of expertise in pharmaceuticals with a high-speed Motoman® MH12 robot and Universal’s Neocortex® artificial intelligence with 3D vision, resulting in a highly flexible, automated drug-handling solution.
The pharmaceutical industry is faced with reducing both delivery costs and response time, often while facing a shortage of skilled laborers, while prescription drug fulfillment volume continues to increase. The RX Unit Workcell addresses these needs, providing a compact footprint for small pharmaceutical RX fulfillment operations and a modular design for large facilities.
“Delivering a robotic workcell that is capable of handling a wide range of unit-of-use drug items while guaranteeing 100% NDC verification is unprecedented,” stated Tim Chambers, president of RXAS. “Since the workcell easily fits in existing floor layouts, it will quickly revolutionize how the 1.3 billion pre-packaged annual prescriptions1 are delivered in the United States. Designed for high volume mail order and central fill pharmacy applications, accuracy and throughput are increased over current fulfillment methods, with a pay back in one year, even for small volume pharmaceutical operations.”
The RX Unit Pick Workcell utilizes Neocortex, Universal’s machine learning-based 3D vision, to recognize and identify thousands of different kinds of medicine packaged in bottles, tubes of ointment, small cartons or odd-shaped plastic containers. The workcell reads each unique NDC, orients the item and identifies a safe labeling zone for adhering a patient label.
“100% validation at high speed with unlimited items is a major breakthrough in materials handling,” explains David Peters, CEO, Universal Robotics. “This workcell is an example of the extreme performance capabilities of Neocortex. It has advanced random bin picking through the use of artificial intelligence to provide absolute drug safety to the customer.”
“This strategic partnership applies our expertise from clinical laboratory robotics to the robotic fulfillment of prescription drugs. We anticipate a healthy market response as we provide efficient solutions to the area of automation in prescription order fulfillment,” states Roger Christian, divisional leader of new market development for Yaskawa Motoman.