European pharmacy giant Dr. Max automates order picking and replenishment with Brightpick Autopicker

Dr. Max, the second largest pharmacy chain in Europe with 3,000 pharmacies across 6 countries, has fully automated its order picking and stock replenishment using Brightpick Autopicker robots in its Prague distribution center. The company now relies on the AI robots to regularly replenish pharmacies and hospitals across the country.

7,000

picks per day

4,000

maximum SKUs

Challenges

Dr. Max faced several challenges in its previous manual order picking and stock replenishment processes:

  • Labor-intensive picking of B and C-movers: Pickers spent a significant amount of time walking around the warehouse to retrieve items from storage.
  • Picking errors: Manual picking was prone to errors, which hurt customer satisfaction, increased costs and complicated inventory and batch tracking.
  • Limited scalability: Manual picking could not keep up with increasing order volumes, especially during peak hours, which created bottlenecks in the fulfillment process and delayed deliveries.

In addition, the company encountered significant maintenance challenges with other automation technologies it had implemented in the past. These included prolonged production shutdowns to repair mini-loads and the frequent replacement of QR codes essential for AGV navigation. Consequently, for its latest installation, Dr. Max sought an automation solution that was not only simple to implement and scale, but also easy and low-cost to maintain.

Solution

Dr. Max installed Brightpick Autopicker robots to address these challenges. Brightpick Autopicker is the only mobile robot in the world that robotically picks and consolidates orders directly in the warehouse aisles. This eliminates the need for human picking and significantly reduces the time and labor required for order fulfillment.

The robots use 3D machine vision and AI to identify and pick items with 99.99% accuracy. In the event that Brightpick Autopicker is unable to pick an item (for example due to damaged packaging), the robot automatically takes those items to a Goods-to-Person station for picking, thereby ensuring 100% pick success at all times.

In addition to order picking, Brightpick Autopickers also autonomously replenish and put away inventory.

“What we liked about Brightpick was the ease and time of installation. The scalability ensures that as we expand our SKU range, we can seamlessly integrate more robots.”

Tomáš Seget, Deputy Director of Logistics at Dr. Max

Brightpick Autopickers navigate narrow warehouse aisles using their vision and do not need QR codes or magnetic tape on the floor, which reduces maintenance costs. Their advanced navigation capability also means the robots don’t require safety fencing, ensuring Dr. Max maintains easy access to all its inventory even in emergency scenarios (for example power failure or natural disasters).

As a medical distributor, Dr. Max faces stringent regulatory requirements. To ensure compliance with these regulations, Brightpick’s software tracks each SKU and batch independently, and can quickly isolate and recall specific batches if needed (for example if a batch is found to be defective). In addition, Brightpick provides real-time visibility into the fulfillment process and inventory, and prioritizes picking from batches with the earliest expiration date.

Results

The first phase of this installation, consisting of eight Brightpick Autopickers, was designed for a throughput of 5,000 picks per day. Currently Dr. Max is achieving performance that is 40% above that, with rates consistently above 7,000 picks per day. Phase two will see the throughput increase to 12,000 picks per day by adding additional robots.

“Brightpick enabled us to reallocate all our human pickers to quality control instead. We also see that the picking error rate has improved.”

Tomáš Seget, Deputy Director of Logistics at Dr. Max

Brightpick Autopicker significantly improved operational performance for Dr. Max:

  • 100% reduction in picking labor: All human pickers were reallocated to other workflows, such as quality control.
  • Increased throughput: 40% increase in throughput from the same footprint (from 5,000 picks per day to more than 7,000).
  • Improved picking accuracy: The robots have virtually eliminated picking errors, leading to improved customer satisfaction, enhanced inventory tracking, and reduced costs from order corrections.
  • Enhanced scalability: Dr. Max can easily scale throughput by adding additional robots with minimal effort.
  • Improved reliability: Since going live, Brightpick has delivered an uptime of 100%, enabled by the fact that each robot operates independently and there is no single point of failure

Following the success of this installation, Dr. Max will expand the solution and install other Brightpick robots in the same facility, such as Brightpick Dispatcher for post-pick order consolidation, buffer and dispatch.

“We are already thinking about other locations in the warehouse that would benefit from also having Brightpick robots.”

Tomáš Seget, Deputy Director of Logistics at Dr. Max

About Brightpick
Brightpick offers AI robots for warehouses to easily automate every step of their order fulfillment. The innovative robots enable warehouses of any size to fully automate order picking, consolidation, dispatch and stock replenishment. The Brightpick solution takes weeks to deploy and enables companies to reduce their picking labor by 98% and cut picking costs by half. Headquartered near Cincinnati, OH, Brightpick has more than 200 employees and is part of Photoneo Brightpick Group, which has over 7000 technology installations across the US, Europe and Asia. For more information, contact us here.

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