Process Improvement: Achieving a More Efficient Life Sciences and Pharmaceutical Warehouse

conveyor system in an efficient life sciences and pharmaceutical warehouse


Improving efficiencies within the supply chain is a continuous improvement with ongoing initiatives.  As such, logistics providers are always measuring and analyzing processes to uncover ways to increase efficiencies within the warehouse. The Life Sciences and Pharmaceuticals industries have witnessed tremendous growth in recent years which requires logistics providers to operate at a higher throughput level. This increased growth has contributed to the need to move orders through a facility, quickly.


When companies  are experiencing rapid growth cycles, there is an expectation to process and fulfill orders as quickly as possible, as one order may contain lifesaving medication or treatment for a patient. MD Logistics operates as a 3PL provider within the life sciences and pharmaceuticals industry and many of their clients were forecasting business growth.  Upon evaluation of the operation, it became clear that existing automation and infrastructure would no longer supporting the anticipated  growth. The challenge then became what improvements could be made to more efficiently move product through the facility and ship out the door.


Conveyor automation  is often used in a warehouse setting as a supporting function to move product throughout the facility, efficiently and without causing physical strain to team members. As the team at MD Logistics started to analyze how to create greater efficiencies in their own life sciences and pharmaceuticals warehouse, it was quickly realized that the existing conveyor was the pain point in operating an efficient life sciences and pharmaceutical warehouse. The resolution was to upgrade to a solution that worked with their team, instead of having their team work against the current system.

When considering a conveyor, it’s important to keep these elements top of mind to not only achieve true efficiency, but also minimize disruptions to current business processes.

Configuration. To realize true efficiency, your conveyor configuration should not only be compatible with your facility layout, but it should also take into consideration both current and future business volumes to ensure that your investment can scale and grow as your business does. The best configuration is one which provides maximum productivity and in turn, true efficiency. Begin by mapping out the path in which a shipper will take through your facility, making sure that you have an understanding of any structural constraints within your facility. This layout should account for the optimal path a shipper should take, from pick/pack to shipment out of the facility, but also any other process you want to efficiently handle, i.e. auditing and disposing of excess corrugate.  

Construction. One item to keep in mind when designing an upgraded conveyor system for your facility is the impact that construction will have on current business processes. Construction should happen in a way that allows you to carry on with little to no impact to current client’s business. Working with an experienced vendor will provide the expertise to map out a construction plan and timeline that provides minimal impact to business processes. A good plan is only half of the solution, to be successful in the interim construction period requires a constant flow of communication between yourself as the provider and your construction vendor. Understanding that things happen and delays are inevitable, the only way to continue forward is have an open line of communication, mitigating additional disruptions further down the supply chain.

Convenience. The main purpose behind a conveyor is to provide a level of convenience to your business and reduce product handling. What functions in your warehouse would benefit from the convenience of implementing a conveyor solution? The use of a conveyor decreases the chance of workplace injuries and fatigue by eliminating heavy physical labor for employees.


By working with an external vendor, we were able to procure and implement new conveyor automation in one of our state-of-the-art warehouses, servicing clients in the life sciences and pharmaceuticals industries. This new conveyor system has proven to provide various benefits for our warehouse team.

Flexibility. Working with a vendor who specializes in warehouse conveyor automation, allowed us to be able to tailor a solution not only to our existing floor plan, but also to the specific needs that we had. We were able to build a system tailored to our warehouse floorplan, taking the time to plan out current needs and anticipate future business volumes to allow the system to evolve in-line with our clients growth trajectory. Our upgraded conveyor has the ability to double current output without having to make any major changes to the infrastructure.

Efficiency. Perhaps the largest pain point with the original conveyor system, was the inefficiencies that were apparent as our client’s grew and order volumes increased. As our workload increased, our warehouse teams were compensating with physical labor; lifting shippers onto the conveyor, walking  corrugate to the recycling compactor, and moving shippers from the conveyor to the staging area to be loaded onto outbound trucks. All of these extra movements by our team members added extra time to the shipping process and created inefficiencies felt across the operation. The additional product handling also took a physical toll on their bodies, leading to increased fatigue felt by the end of the day. The new system has allowed us to be more intentional with our space, reducing the extra effort and physical labor previously placed on our team members. Overall, we now have a more efficient life sciences and pharmaceutical warehouse where we have already been able to reduce team member “touches” by 50%.

Increased Output. Being able to tailor a system to current and future needs, provides us increased efficiencies to be able to handle additional output. These changes have allowed our team to increase our order fulfillment capacity by 25%, with the potential to handle additional volume as our client’s business needs changes.

As your business grows, process improvements are necessary to keep up with fluctuations in business order volumes and industry demands. If you are ready to work with a 3PL provider who is poised to respond to the needs of your supply chain, reach out to our team of supply chain experts!