Pick and Place – Drugstore Edition

Pick all you want: Drugstore Edition

The shift towards online shopping has affected many sectors, and the drugstore industry is no exception. More and more consumers buy their cosmetics and over-the-counter medications online rather than in stationary stores. Smaller, individual orders lead to increased and more complex item handling requirements instead of delivering to stationery stores. Therefore, efficient automation solutions are particularly important in this area to meet customer requirements and remain competitive. In this context, specific challenges arise with regard to robot-assisted picking, such as a large variety of items and increased customer demands on delivery time and quality. With its unique AI approach, Sereact's solution enables robots to pick any object reliably and fast.

Vast variety of articles

The product portfolio of drugstores ranges from cosmetics and cleaning products to groceries and thus has a wide variety of articles. According to its information, the German drugstore giant dm has around 12,500 different products, most of which are also offered online. Since the cosmetics industry, in particular, thrives on constantly bringing new products to market, the product portfolio is continually changing and expanding. This requires intelligent solutions, such as Sereact's robotics software, that can flexibly adapt to new requirements. Its AI approach enables robots to pick any item instantly without prior teach-in or programming. The software is trained in a simulation environment to understand any possible real-world environment's spatial and physical nuances before production use. This knowledge ultimately enables the robot to calculate suitable grip points for various objects, regardless of their shape, color, or texture, and thus reliably grasp them.

High customer demands on delivery time

In the age of Amazon Prime, same-day delivery and express shipping, customers expect orders to be processed quickly. Therefore, the time window between order and shipment is getting smaller. In addition, online sales can be impacted by factors such as sales promotions, seasonal demand and global events. Drugstores must be able to handle sudden spikes in order volume. Sereact's automation solution can handle up to 1,500 picks per hour and is productive 24/7, making it easy to accommodate such fluctuations.

Ensuring delivery quality

When customers order online, they expect the products received to mirror what they saw and chose on the website. Any discrepancies, whether in the product or in its condition on arrival, may lead to dissatisfaction. Picking offers a high potential for error if the product or quantity deviates from the customer's order. Therefore, the automation of pick-and-pack processes should be based on intelligent systems that minimize the risk of errors compared to other solutions and manual picking. Through PickGPT, the Sereact software can, on the one hand, identify the items to be picked and thus recognize items that do not match the order. On the other hand, the system can be easily connected to additional quality control measures, such as barcode scanners.

The shift from stationery stores to e-commerce will continue in the following years. For drugstores, this means that they will have a significantly higher order volume with smaller, individual orders. To meet the high customer demands for delivery time and quality and to remain competitive, intelligent automation solutions like Sereact are needed that are powerful and can adapt flexibly to the continuously varying product portfolio.