Apotal.de, a leading company in online pharmacy in Germany, has chosen the KNAPP-Store automated storage and picking system to fulfil its customer orders.
With its parent company, Bad Apotheke, having been a pioneer in the mail order pharmacy sector, Apotal.de supplies its online customers – as well as those placing orders by telephone, mail or fax – with prescription medicines, natural medicines and a range of other health items, delivered directly to their homes. By German standards, the product range includes a relatively large share of prescription drugs, so Apotal.de operates within a strict regulatory environment, making order fulfilment highly complex.
“The greatest logistical challenge is consolidating the articles that are not in stock, and must therefore be directly obtained from the manufacturer, into the overall order,” explained Peter Risz, Regional Sales Manager for KNAPP. “At the moment, articles immediately available are pre-picked and the order is temporarily stored until the missing article is delivered. The correct allocation and consolidation of orders are carried out manually. Naturally, this is very time-consuming.”
Lot and serial number tracking
A solution focussed on cross-docking was needed and Apotal.de found the solution in KNAPP-Store. This versatile new system allows orders from wholesale to be temporarily stored as efficiently as possible and quickly retrieved when needed to complete customer orders. “The KNAPP-Store is essential to the project, along with the opportunities that this system offers,” commented Henning Fichter, owner of Apotal.de. “The KNAPP-Store relieves employees of many of the peripheral and complex processes that take place in the warehouse, such as cross-docking. Furthermore, with KNAPP-Store, we can easily store more of the smallest quantities – C-articles, for example. The KNAPP-Store fills the gaps left by other processes that we previously handled manually. With the new system, we are equipped for the future, whether we move towards stock goods or cross-docking.” The KNAPP-Store supports the new regulations for tracking lot and serial numbers that will come into effect in 2017. By precisely monitoring article characteristics, items with a specific lot or serial number or a specific date mark can be retrieved at the push of a button so that they can be picked in due time.
Henning Fichter (left), owner of Apotal.de, and Peter Risz, Regional Sales Manager for KNAPP AG, shake hands on the contract for a pioneering B2C pharma solution featuring KNAPP-Store
In keeping with KNAPP’s zero-defect warehouse concept, all processes in the solution for Apotal.de are smart and software-guided. This begins at goods-in, where – using the image recognition technology, iscan – all articles are automatically measured and their data recorded by the system to eliminate errors during storage. Along with the KNAPP-Store, a high-performance KNAPP SDA autopicker will be used at Apotal.de for processing fast-moving articles, contributing to the efficient and safe processing of high order volumes. What makes the overall solution special is the combination of KNAPP-Store and SDA on one central belt conveyor; in this way, the fastest and most expensive order lines can be processed using one system.
End-to-end software solution
The integrated KiSoft WMS/WCS solution, realized as an overall package connected to the inventory control system and combined with the KNAPP-Store, is sufficiently flexible to handle any changes in the business model or in legal requirements. With the new solution, Apotal.de will be automatically picking 75 per cent of its order lines, but even for orders that are still handled manually, the processes will be guided using software. “These end-to-end software solutions with a direct connection to the inventory control system make it possible for us to realize the zero-defect philosophy throughout all the warehouse processes. The goal is to correct any errors directly at the source, no matter where in the process they occur,” explained Bernd Stöger, KNAPP’s Software Product Manager.
Accuracy is paramount
Henning Fichter concluded: “For us, this solution means a real boost in quality. This is even more important in a mail-order pharmacy than in pharmaceutical wholesale since there, the local pharmacy will notice an incorrect delivery and correct it. If the same error happens with us, the patient will receive the wrong medication, which can lead to serious consequences. Naturally, the zero-defect concept is tremendously important to us. For this reason, we are very interested in the solutions using KNAPP’s KiSoft Vision technologies. We are already preparing our systems to optimize for zero errors.”
KNAPP UK Ltd
Tel: 01844 202149