SSI Schaefer built one of the most modern distribution centers of Central Europe in the Slovenian city Ljubljana for the pharmaceutical wholesaler Salus. The highlights are: the integration of optimally dimensioned automation systems and the intelligent combination of different ideal picking strategies for a diversified range of items. The plant is already considered an exemplary solution for the pharmaceutical wholesale industry.


Sophisticated item and order structures require highest flexibility and an intelligent combination of picking strategies. Due to these requirements,
SSI Schaefer built for Salus, the leading wholesaler for pharmaceutical and medical products in the Slovenian market, one of the most modern distribution centers of Central Europe in Ljubljana. “In the old plant the capacity limits had been reached”, explains Salus project manager Andrej Hočevar.  Furthermore, it was rather inconveniently located for traffic. “Therefore, the decision to build a new distribution center was consequential. It offers more space and - due to modern equipment and process design - more efficiency as well. Therefore, we can offer better service to our customers.” The order as general contractor for the intra-logistics was awarded to
SSI Schaefer after an international tender. “The references and the holistic design of the plant convinced us”, so Hočevar. A plant was realized that can be referred to as an exemplary solution in the industry with its versatile specialties for the requirements in the pharmaceutical industry.

Picking of the order items by pick-by-light system

Round about 13,000 different items from eight item groups with eleven item types are concentrated in the new distribution center in Ljubljana. The average stock consists of around six million single units. The facility covers 30 storage areas with four different temperature  zones. “For the optimal storage and order processing we integrated nearly all storage types and the most modern processing or picking systems”, says Hočevar. Thus, in the new Salus distribution center, the orders for supplying chemists, hospitals, and demand positions are compiled according to a holistic design created by SSI Schaefer. It considers an order-related, multi-level picking partly across three floors and according to different picking strategies.

Pallets are stored in a six aisle, fully automatic high-bay warehouse (HBW) with two curve-going storage and retrieval machines (SRM). More than 5,100 locations for the single-deep storage of pallets with a weight of 1,000 kg each are available there. Each of the two storage and retrieval machines achieves a throughput of 35 pallets per hour during the storage and retrieval. For the cross-docking of entire pallets a separate turnover area was implemented in addition. Storage and picking of single items is done via an automatic small-parts storage system (Miniload) and a Schaefer Carousel System (SCS). Furthermore, the distribution center in Ljubljana has two manually operated warehouse areas: one special complex for storing temperature-controlled items as well as areas for picking of large amounts. Among other things, three quarantine areas were created for returns, damaged items, and goods that have to be removed. All warehouse and picking areas as well as the respective handling processes at Salus are controlled by the installed warehouse management system (WMS) WAMAS by SSI Schaefer. “With the linking and extensive IT control of these different systems and processing strategies, we realized one of the most challenging projects of recent years as far as system technique and process control by IT are concerned”, judges Peter Diener, responsible project manager for SSI Schaefer. “In spite of the very sophisticated range of items and item variety, the thus achieved process optimization leads to an extremely increased throughput and high process security for Salus”.

  • All in all 2,150 flow channels are available.
  • Pickingstation
  • Items repacked in totes are forwarded by a conveyor system for storage in the three-aisle miniload with 28,440 tote storage positions.

“Due to the unique system combination, the extensive automation of the processes and the capacity of the systems we are able to compile and ship up to 300 orders with a total of 10,000 to 12,000 order positions per day”, so Hočevar. This requires intelligent material flows. SSI Schaefer already examined these in terms of their capacity in simulation projects during the design and planning phase. 




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