World's biggest pharmacy robot helps dispense hospital medicines

The biggest robot of its kind in the world is helping revolutionise the way the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital runs the dispensing of medicines.

The NNUH pharmacy dispensing robot, installed by St Albans-based ARX, is the first in the world to have four robots working side-by-side.

The robotic dispensing system holds around 40,000 drugs and is 100% accurate at picking stock from its shelves. Previously staff picked medicine by hand but the new system is much faster, there are less errors, and stock control is improved because the robot and its computers know where everything is ,and how much stock is being held.

The robot, known to Pharmacy staff as FRED which stands for Friendly Robotic Electronic Dispenser, cost £486,000, and not only supplies the main pharmacy with the medicines needed but also provides a top-up service for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital wards when they need medicines to be resupplied.

Pharmacy staff order the medication and generate the labels from their computers and drugs are picked by FRED and then sent down a chute to the dispenser's desk in just seconds.

Nicola Rudge, principal pharmacist at NNUH, said: “The introduction of the robotic system has given us a state-of-the-art pharmacy dispensing system which is leading to a safer and more efficient pharmacy service and has improved the workload for staff. There are many advantages of robotic dispensing, including the fact that it reduces the risk of dispensing errors and cuts down on cutting waste by monitoring expiry dates.”

Tom Simcox, chief executive of ARX Ltd, said “The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital's pharmacy robot combines many of the latest technologies available to install one of the most advanced pharmacy robots in the world. It is not only the first quadruple system in the world but uses the more advanced Extent technology along with automatic labelling, and automatic loading.”

Monday 7th of April 2008 09:00:57 AM