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Alliance UniChem

"When we started looking for a print supplier, we wanted one that would not only provide the optimum hardware but could offer four hour on-site support at any of our locations. That's why we chose Datatrade." Grahame May, Alliance Unichem plc.

The Client

Unichem is a major distributor of pharmaceutical, medical and healthcare products. Its wholesale division supplies 5000 UK retail pharmacies and hospitals while its retail division, Moss Pharmacy, serves the public directly through its 700-strong chain of high street shops. The company was started in 1938 by Ernest Skues and has grown to become a major pharmaceutical player with an annual turnover in excess of £3 billion. Recent developments include an online sales service and trading in France, Switzerland and Holland

The Business Challenge

Print plays a huge part of Unichem’s operational management. A consequence of supplying large numbers of small orders to retail outlets is a high number of statements and invoices. The situation is the same in the warehouse where large volumes of picking lists are produced.


The Business Solution

Datatrade has been a long term partner of Unichem plc, latterly Alliance Unichem plc, and has supplied printing solutions for mission critical activities within the organisation for many years. Initially host attach line printers were provided and shortly after, these were supplemented by a number of host attach shuttle matrix printers, bringing in a graphics capability. Although these printers have been in daily use for many years, their reliability and performance was recently benchmarked and still found to be excellent.

Datatrade maintained these printers, and the level of commitment shown to Unichem’s business was rewarded in 2001 with a new long-term maintenance contract, which was expanded to include many additional mission-critical printers. Datatrade also conducted a printer audit that resulted in 36 of the most modern 1500 lpm shuttle matrix printers replacing outdated and unreliable equipment. This programme also saw Datatrade assisting in transferring the printing solutions from a host attach environment onto a new Ethernet WAN.

The Business Benefits

The new invoice and statement printers have very low operating costs. The picking list printers continue to ensure that the right products reach the right shelves at the right time.

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