Cool Pharmacy Technology–Rowa Vmax

I became aware of Rowa Vmax a few weeks ago when I read an article about CareFusion purchasing the small German-based company.

From the Rowa brochure:

The Vmax Hospital from Rowa provides hospital pharmacists with an extremely flexible and high performance storage and dispensing system. When combined with the wide range of product options (almost) any thing is possible:

  • High level of scalability in terms of capacity and speed
  • Input speed per machine: up to 900 packs per hour
  • Output speed per machine: up to 2,000 packs per hour
  • Safety features: UPS, backup storage drive, stock scan, user identification with various permissions, refrigerator with data logger
  • Recording of expiry dates and batch numbers
  • Conveyor system: for optimised stock picking and commissioning for the wards

Combined with perfect integration into the hospital’s stock control system the result is clear, streamlined medicines management.

Stock intake, recording, storage and order picking for the wards: all of these previously manual activities can be done with Rowa in a fraction of the time normally required. Qualified personnel can now do qualified work, on the wards for example. This is a huge advantage, especially in times of increasing pressure on hospital staff budgets.

Rowa Vmax is a robotic system designed for storage and retrieval of medications. The system operates similarly to BoxPicker Drug Storage and Retrieval System from Swisslog, i.e. it is a high-density, automated pharmacy storage and retrieval system that uses robotics, barcoding technology and runs on rails.

The main differences between Rowa Vmax and BoxPicker:

  • Rowa Vmax stores and retrieves individual drugs stored in box containers as well as “round packs”, i.e. medication bottles. BoxPicker stores and retrieves medications via the bins containing the medication.
  • Rowa utilizes small robotic arms resembling giant tweezers, along with a small hydraulic ram to store and retrieve individual medications. BoxPicker uses suction cups and rails to store and retrieve bins.
  • Watching video of both systems it appears that the Rowa Vmax system is smoother and faster.
    Rowa Vmax:

  • Modular and compact.
  • Store medications at room temperature as well as for refrigerated storage via the Rowa refrigerated compartments for Rowa Vmax.
  • The system appears to be user friendly, i.e. lots of touch, single “click” for functionality, etc. It appears that they’ve placed a lot of emphasis on the user experience and ease of use.
  • Utilizes barcode technology during the storage phase as users scan individual medications during the restocking/return phase. However, it is unclear whether or not the system utilizes barcoding for retrieval vs the use of location memory. Based on video footage it appears that Rowa Vmax uses the latter.
  • The application/software is capable of tracking expiration dates.
  • Utilizes “optimization logic” to move inventory around based on size and usage. This is an interesting concept. “Rowa stores away packs of medicines according to type, an option which means that it can input and retrieve medicines more quickly. With capacity optimized storage, the packs are stored according to size as compactly as possible. The settings can be freely adjusted between these two maximum values.”

There are several videos that show the system in action, but I thought these two were particularly interesting. 

Rowa Vmax
Rowa Vmax Hospital

2 thoughts on “Cool Pharmacy Technology–Rowa Vmax”

  1. Thanks Jerry for all of the above u make it short and clear do you know any technoogy like pill picker from Swisslog


  2. Hi Amajd – The only robot I know of like the Swisslog Pill Picker, is the Pill Picker. It’s kind of unique in the U.S. pharmacy automation space. – Jerry

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