Guided by the light
A new energy efficient, smart lighting solution ensures Uniphar’s warehouse staff pick the right products.
As you enter the enormous warehouse at Uniphar Group’s distribution centre in Greenogue Business Park in Dublin, Ireland, it all seems a bit dark and eerie to begin with. However, suddenly everything changes: a forklift approaches one of the aisles and the high bay LED ceiling lights are activated, providing sufficient light for the driver to locate the right storage rack and read the label on the package. After retrieving the correct stock, the forklift moves back up the aisle and exits, and after a short delay, the lights are automatically switched off. In another aisle, a similar cycle of events occurs as an employee walks into the aisle to pick more products from the low racking. Everything here works like clockwork – no energy is wasted anywhere in the building.
New distribution centre
In pharmaceutical storage and distribution, getting the right products to the right people at the right time is absolutely critical. This is why Uniphar Group plc – the largest integrated healthcare supply and services provider in Ireland – invested in a new, state of the art distribution centre in 2017.Innovative and technology-driven, Uniphar operates in Ireland and the UK and has an annual turnover in excess of one billion euros. The Group provides integrated healthcare services for pharmacy and pharmaceutical manufacturers, ensuring that medicines and drugs get to patients safely, quickly and cost effectively.
The Greenogue distribution centre is Uniphar’s largest hub in Ireland and one of the most energy efficient. The site is strategically located to enable safe, swift distribution nationwide. The distribution centre provides modern office space connected to a temperature-controlled bulk storage facility with thousands of pallet spaces for ambient storage and cold storage. It is a distribution hub purpose-built to meet the precise needs of the pharmaceutical industry.Fully compliant with all bodies including the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), the site incorporates a high level of security due to the type of products it stores. Connected to the warehouse are fully air-conditioned office spaces, which include open plan offices, meeting rooms, boardroom, a canteen area and ancillary rooms.
Energy efficient solution
When planning the new site, Uniphar had a requirement for an energy efficient lighting solution throughout the site, particularly in the warehouse. A number of lighting solutions were reviewed and modelled at this stage.As Patrick McKeon, Country Manager, Glamox Ireland explains: “Glamox wasn’t originally specified for this project. Originally, a wireless Light Management System [LMS] solution by an alternative lighting supplier was specified, but the solution from Glamox turned out to be better value for money.
Uniphar wanted 200 lux on each warehouse aisle rack/shelf, but only wanted this lighting to be activated when a person or forklift approached the aisle.“By using the Glamox light calculation software application, Optiwin, we documented to the electrical contractor, DMG Engineering, and Uniphar how our i80 high bay LED luminaires combined with standalone sensors would meet the lighting performance and energy efficiency requirements for the warehouse,” adds McKeon.The consultant engineer on the build project was Axis Engineering, with DMG Engineering the electrical contractor. Dave Smith, Director at DMG Engineering Ltd comments: “We worked closely with Glamox Ireland to ensure we could meet all the lighting requirements on this project, particularly with regards to the lighting solutions for the warehouse and the Light Management System, all of which had very precise requirements specified by Uniphar.”
Can’t afford mistakes
Alan Durning, Facilities and Maintenance at Uniphar Greenogue states: “The Glamox i80 high bay LED luminaires are installed throughout the warehouse in the ceilings above each aisle, where they provide 200 lux, which is sufficient for our warehouse staff to easily identify the labels on the product packaging. We simply cannot afford to make any mistakes when picking pharmaceutical products from the racking, so the lighting provided here by Glamox is critical.”The Glamox i80 LED high bay luminaires are connected to the LMS and use PIR (Passive Infrared) sensors – around one sensor for every four luminaires – that pick up movement close to the aisle and activate the lights. However, the lights were programmed so that they are not activated by general warehouse traffic at the ends of the aisles, as this would consume unnecessary energy. Uniphar also wanted a “hold off time” on the lighting to ensure that the aisles do not go dark too quickly after warehouse staff or forklifts have finished picking stock from the racks. This safety feature was also programmed into the LMS.
Minimising energy costs
For the offices, including the boardroom, Glamox supplied C70 LED luminaires with sensors for motion and daylight detection. The LMS automatically regulates the office lighting, dimming it or switching it off when there’s either plenty of natural daylight available or if there are no people present in that particular room.Patrick McKeon concludes: “Uniphar’s Greenogue distribution centre and offices are a great example of how businesses can minimise their energy costs by installing energy efficient LED lighting combined with a well-designed Light Management System. By investing in an LMS, Uniphar has ensured that light is only used in the warehouse and offices when and where it is needed – anything else would be just wasted energy and a dent in the bottom line profits.”