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Walgreens to reportedly use robots in pharmacy supply chain

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Uriah Bullard
Uriah Bullard

Walgreens to reportedly use robots in pharmacy supply chain

Walgreens is opening new robotic fulfillment centers dedicated to packing prescription medications for pharmacy customers, according to a report. – Dan Berthiaume

According to Pymnts (reporting on an article in the Wall Street Journal), Walgreens is opening new robotic fulfillment centers dedicated to packing prescription medications for pharmacy customers. Walgreens originally opened an automated micro-fulfillment center specifically focused on rapid fulfillment of customer prescription orders in the Dallas area.

Micro-fulfillment centers use robotic technology to automate tasks such as picking and packing, reducing the need for manual labor and also enabling more inventory to fit into a smaller space. The Dallas center reportedly fills 35,000 prescriptions for 500 stores every day, reducing pharmacist workload by 25% and producing cost savings of about $1 billion per year.

Walgreens Fulfillment Center with tSort System

“This frees up the capacity of our most-skilled professionals,” Rina Shah, group VP, pharmacy of the future & healthcare segment strategy, Walgreens” said to the Wall Street Journal. “We looked at our system and said, ‘Why are we filling prescriptions the way we did in 1995?’”

As prescription volumes have risen post-COVID-19 pandemic, a national shortage of pharmacists has forced Walgreens to reduce pharmacy hours and offer signing bonuses as high as $75,000 to new pharmacists in select markets. The median annual salary for pharmacists was $128,570 in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Walgreens expects to open 22 pharmacy micro-fulfillment centers across the U.S. by 2025, by which point as much as half of its total prescription volume could be automatically filled. Human pharmacists will continue manually filling prescription orders that involve controlled substances and/or are time-sensitive. CNBC previously reported that chief Walgreens rival CVS is also using micro-fulfillment for some prescription orders.

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About Tompkins Robotics Tompkins Robotics, a business unit of Tompkins International, is focused on the robotic automation of distribution operations. Our primary system, t-Sort, consists of autonomous mobile robots that sort a wide range of items and parcels to consolidation points. t-Sort is a portable, automated material handling sortation system that is creating a huge paradigm shift in the supply chain and how the basic distribution function of order fulfillment is accomplished. We continue to expand this core system with complementary robotic systems to automate processes in fulfillment operations. Our systems maximize performance with mobile, scalable and flexible robotics solutions that grow and change on demand to meet customer needs. We create profit and value for our clients, making them more agile and adaptable to the highly dynamic changes in the marketplace.