Automated order picking system at Lion Pharma SA

ZENON Automation SAICT, a company with extensive expertise in the design and implementation of robotic and automation solutions for the end-of-line, successfully completed a fully automated order picking and dispatch system for LION PHARMA, a company which specializes in the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

ZENON collaborated with CSA ("SOTIRIS MATSOUKAS INFORMATICS SA"), which supplied LION PHARMA the ERP & WMS software of the line.

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The Need & Challenges

LION PHARMA needed a fully automated system for the handling of the orders (order picking, invoicing, packaging, conveying, and sorting) that are dispatched to its customers.

The project posed many challenges as LIONPHARMA stores thousands of different products and distributes them to hundreds of costumers daily, at rates that can reach 10 orders per minute! The solution had to ensure high productivity and optimal use of available space and existing resources thus adapting to the hybrid order picking model of LIONPHARMA which combines automatic and semi-automatic order picking stations.

ZENON offered a complete solution (handling, labeling, invoicing, packaging, sorting and information control system), which, in conjunction with the CSA solution, totally satisfied the needs of LION PHARMA.

The Solution

For the collection of orders plastic crates are used. At the start of the line a specially designed destacker receives the empty crates in stacks, de-stacks them and feeds them to the order picking system. The unique barcode of each crate is then matched with the unique barcode of the order via the software supplied by CSA. CSA software also handles the necessary volumetric dimensioning for segmentation orders in multiple crates when needed. The crates are forwarded to the various picking zones in accordance with the ERP system, via the extensive conveying and handling line built by ZENON.

At the picking zones, operators collect the items of each order and place them in the respective crate. During this process, operators use wireless ZEBRA terminals to scan both crates and products thus ensuring correct collection of order items and at the same time send picking confirmation to the ERP.

ZENON line is also responsible to supply crates according to ERP demands to two fully automated order picking stations of the German ROWA. The two stations supplied by CSA require no human intervention (ideal for expensive medicine and drugs) and also perform continuous inventory control ensuring absolute FIFO operation.

After the order picking, the crates are forwarded to a labeling station. A ZEBRA industrial thermal printer prints a label with all the necessary information for their dispatch (customer details, address, order number, crate number, etc.) and a specially designed mechanism by ZENON places it inside an external pocket of the crate. The last crate of each order is forwarded to the invoicing station where another ZEBRA industrial thermal printer prints the invoice sheets and a specially designed mechanism by ZENON automatically places them inside the crate.

Following the labeling and invoicing procedures, an autonomous Cartesian system by ZENON places a plastic lid on the crates and forwards the crates to a strapping machine.

Finally, the crates are forwarded and sorted into 16 individual dispatch exits before they are loaded to the vehicles that distribute them to pharmacies.

The system features a PLC control system, an easy to use operator panel with touch screen and SCADA software, a complete safety system, as well as the necessary software and equipment which enable remote technical support by ZENON’s after sales department.


  • Productivity increase / greater per day throughput
  • Easy operation and error minimization
  • Operational Cost reduction
  • Warehouse space & operation optimization
  • Expandability due to the modular design (eg. extra zones)
  • Quick and easy installation and start-up


Since 1987, ZENON designs, constructs and supports integrated robotic and automation solutions for the end-of-line and logistics, providing case packing, palletizing, automated warehousing, handling and sorting solutions.

ZENON is a member of the Theodorou Group of Companies and cooperates with leading global packaging equipment manufacturers. It has successfully completed more than 150 applications in Europe and the Middle East. ZENON’s solutions deliver real value by combining technology innovations with reliability in the long-term.


CSA specializes in the development of software applications for wholesale and retail, in Pharmaceuticals and Retail industries. CSA applications are connected via a single operating environment with the other IT systems of a pharmaceutical wholesaler, which include automation systems (robots), Business Intelligence (BI) and Warehouse Management Systems (WMS).

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