robot piece picking

Apologistics relies on Klinkhammer for Europe’s most modern logistics center for online pharmacies

Nuremberg/Duiven (06/2021) – In addition to its existing logistics location in Leipzig, Apologistics GmbH has commissioned Europe‘s most modern, fully automated logistics center for online pharmacies with 20,000 m2 in Duiven, Neth-erlands. Klinkhammer supplies, integrates and digitizes the entire material flow of the automated warehouse, from state-of-the art robot picking technology up to the automated dispatch.

For more than 15 years, Apologistics has been successful in the pharmaceuticals market for prescription, non-prescription, beauty and care products. Apologistics supports its mail-order pharmacies with more than 100,000 products, from the storage and provision of goods to order picking and “same-day” delivery to customers. Pharmaceutical competence, GDP certification and reliable quality are key factors that customers trust. Apologistics comprises, among others, the brands Apo-discounter.de and .pl, apo.com, Deutscheinternetapotheke.de, Apotheke.de and .at, Apolux.de, Versandapo.de and Juvalis.de.

Apologistics thereby relies on a highly competent in-house team of IT, automation and BI experts, who, with their long-standing experience, enable perfect interaction between web portals developed and operated in-house, as well as external logistics systems such as KlinkWARE. This ensures a highly efficient order control and warehouse management.

The outstanding feature of the new logistics center is the automated picking of pharmacy products using robot piece picking. This makes Apologistics one of the forward-looking and most efficient logistics companies in its sector. Thanks to the high storage capacity and the fully automated technology, every order can be dispatched quickly and reliably on the same day, subject to the pharmaceutical safety requirements. The proximity to the largest DHL parcel center in Europe is an additional advantage of the strategic location of the logistics center in Duiven.

The software is the brain of the system

The modern material flow control and innovative warehouse management software of Klinkhammer are the brain of the system in the new logistics center. They optimize the performance of the system and map fully automated processes with a large number of interfaces to the storage, picking and dispatch systems. The software issues orders to the autostore automated warehouse, currently equipped with 92,000 bins. Up to 6 bins can be supplied to each fully automated robot picking station via the ports. The right order carton is transported from the automated carton erecter via conveyor technology to the picking robot, where it is married with the right picking order. The robot removes the pharmaceuticals from the bins and scans the machine-readable pharmaceutical central number which identifies the items. Only after checking for compliance with the order does the robot automatically place the goods in the order carton. Therefore, the error rate is extremely low. Robot piece picking not only increases picking accuracy, but also efficiency, particularly during “lot size 1 picking“.

„Due to the automation and networking of machines and systems, individual, order-related small-volume orders can be processed extremely efficiently with little personnel expenditure“, explains Michael Fritsch, company founder and shareholder of Apologistics GmbH. We have chosen Klinkhammer as system integrator because we get everything from a single source, from the software to the conveyor system integration and system control up to the Service24.

Quality assurance for sensitive pharmaceuticals

Via scales integrated into the conveyor technology, the shipping carton reaches quality assurance. Here, pharmacists check if the order cartons contain the correct amounts of the correct medication. The cartons are weighed again and compared with the order, because the picking of pharmaceuticals requires greatest care. The carton is then transported via conveyors to the automated chip filler, in order to put filling material into the carton. After having passed the automatic invoice printer and carton sealer, the carton automatically reaches the dispatch label printer. The cartons are conveyed along the correct dispatch conveyor lines directly into the truck via telescopic belt conveyor. All processes, except for quality assurance, are fully automatic and enable safe, personnel-free work in the sensitive pharmaceutical sector. For a comparable, manual distribution center of this size with highest delivery quality, more than 400 employees would have to be employed. In the logistics center, Apologistics gets by with a tenth of the workforce.

AI-supported robot technology for piece picking

Picking workstations can be fully automated using AI-supported robot technology. The picking robots are integrated into the modern warehouse management system KlinkWARE via interface and thus receive their orders. The strategies defined in the warehouse management ensure that the picking robots are always busy and that the bin changes and the bin sequences are optimized for the order structure. The intelligent image recognition of the robot records the different orientations of the products in the containers. The robot takes over the tasks of “bin-picking”, ID scanning and product placement into the target carton. The robot cells have an extremely compact design. The picking robots can also take on additional tasks, such as warehouse compression and consolidation of goods. The system is designed to enable a doubling of the robot picking stations in a first stage of expansion. More than 48 picking robots can be implemented in two further stages of expansion.

Transparent tracking via visualization system

The visualization system KlinkVISION enables a data exchange with all conveyor controls and integrated system parts. The location and status of each carton and its target data can be tracked transparently in the visualization system of Klinkhammer. The software maps the interfaces to the different process stations, enabling fast alarm diagnosis in the warehouse and minimizing downtimes. All status messages from the system are recorded and logged. Numerous services and quick help, which previously required on-site work, can now be carried out remotely with the help of the visualization system, because all Klinkhammer systems are connected to the remote service and are centrally monitored and supervised by qualified Klinkhammer specialists. The hotline is available around the clock to quickly answer questions regarding software, control technology or mechanics and to ensure smooth operation.

Data and Facts:

  • Fully automated robot picking with 6 ports/robot each
  • Autostore bin warehouse with 70 robot vehicles and 92,000 bins
  • Conveyor connection of the automated warehouse and the robot picking to the dispatch
  • Klinkhammer control technology, material flow control and warehouse management software
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