The Norwegian online pharmacy Farmasiet is investing heavily in their future and has chosen KNAPP to automate the warehouse picking and sorting systems in their new warehouse. The investment ensures that their customers continue to receive pharmaceutical products securely and quickly.
Farmasiet is a pioneer in the field of pharmaceutical online retail and has proven to be a serious competitor against the three other major Norwegian pharmacy chains that primarily focus on brick-and-mortar shops. Since their launch in 2014, Farmasiet has seen solid growth; sales reached well over half a billion Norwegian crowns this year. With hundreds of thousands of new customers, Farmasiet is now ready for the next step in growing their business.
Technology Partner KNAPP
To maintain their high security standards while processing the growing volume of orders even faster, Farmasiet turned to market-leading solution provider KNAPP, whose innovative automated solutions provided just what Farmasiet was looking for. For their new facility, they opted for a solution that utilizes proven technologies already in use at pharmaceutical wholesalers and retail pharmacies across Europe. The new facility in Vestby, south of Oslo, is scheduled to go into operation in September 2023.
Central Belt-System and Pack2Patient
Farmasiet opted for two picking and sorting systems – Central Belt System and Pack2Patient – that will handle both simple and complex orders, as well as a conveyor system that connects the entire flow of goods to the carton erectors and closers. The Central Belt System is specially designed for picking medicines and other pharmaceutical products and can pick up to 9,000 packages of medicines per hour. Pack2Patient continuously picks prescription medications, makes sure they are properly labelled and checks them, ensuring continued top quality and accuracy with much greater efficiency than manual processing. The solution means that most orders can be processed without any employees ever having to touch the products. Up to 95 % of customers will receive all products in the same package, whether they ordered prescription medication, non-prescription medication, medical equipment or other merchandise.
“For us, this is about being prepared for tomorrow,” says Elisabeth Haug, CEO of Farmasiet. “Farmasiet has had solid growth since the beginning. The pharmaceutical industry in general is not all that digitalized, but Farmasiet has been fully digital from day one and caters to Norwegians’ preferred method of secure and fast online shopping, 24 hours a day. We have complex requirements because we process medicines and pharmacy products. With this investment, we can safely scale our business and reach ambitious goals both for our customers and owners,” she says.
Ready for Dispatch in 10 to 30 Minutes
Currently, goods at Farmasiet are picked manually. An efficient employee can manually pick around 200 order lines per hour. In comparison, KNAPP’s complete solution can handle more than 6,000 order lines per hour. Products are picked directly into boxes that will then be shipped to customers. The system closes, labels and sorts the boxes for shipment fully automatically. The average lead time from order receipt to a fully packed and addressed product is 10 to 15 minutes. The most complex orders, which include prescription medicines, take a maximum of 30 minutes, which saves a significant amount of time.
There are a series of security solutions in the system that make it virtually error-free, increasing efficiency and ensuring that the right medicines are delivered to the right customers. Farmasiet already has very effective procedures to ensure error-free deliveries to customers, which means that the company’s requirements for new automated solutions are high. KNAPP’s systems replace time-consuming manual checks, saving Farmasiet time. Both the design of the system and a number of control mechanisms throughout the process ensure error-free fulfilment.
“Knowing that this system is already installed in scores of locations around the world gives us a sense of security,” says Elisabeth Haug. “We also found KNAPP to be responsive and adaptable throughout the process. Now we’re looking forward to having a precise yet adjustable and scalable system tailor-made for us so we can create Norway’s best customer experience.”
Well-proven, tailor-made system
One of KNAPP’s original goals was to provide effective solutions for the pharmaceutical industry. Successful pharmaceutical solutions must be able to handle an enormous number of products, often small units. Reliably providing the right product at the right time is of utmost importance.
Farmasiet’s new system will calculate the weight and volume of the packages, ensuring that they are as small as possible. This will allow multiple orders and product types – such as medicines and other pharmaceutical products – to be consolidated into one shipment or packages that are small enough to be delivered to customers’ homes rather than be picked up, helping Farmasiet to provide excellent service and to operate more sustainably by limiting the number of shipments, reducing packaging volume and avoiding shipping air.
“Farmasiet is a perfect customer for us. Their future-oriented business model challenged us in a positive way. We have seen that we can contribute to the project with our experience and well-proven systems, while the project itself contributes to the continued development of our products and services. We look forward to seeing the product in operation next autumn,” says Mikael Holmqvist, Managing Director of KNAPP Nordics.
Building for tomorrow – new jobs ahead
Farmasiet has major ambitions for the future and are planning to double both their sales and number of employees over the next few years. “Vestby is becoming Norway’s most exciting logistics centre and our new warehouse and logistics facility will provide many exciting jobs. With our plans for expansion, we will need to hire many new employees, who, together with the automation from KNAPP, will ensure that we provide fantastic customer experiences that will be able to change consumption habits in the pharmaceutical market,” says Ms Haug.
KNAPP is a world-leading technology partner for automation solutions. With over 50 years of experience in automation and conveyor system solutions, KNAPP has served over 200 customers in the Nordic region. The KNAPP group is present throughout the Nordic region and is headquartered in Graz, Austria. KNAPP has over 6,000 employees in over 50 countries and offers solutions and services to more than 3,000 customers around the globe in industry, food retail, healthcare, general retail and wholesale.
Farmasiet is Norway’s largest online pharmacy and delivers both prescription and non-prescription products safely and securely to customers’ homes. They were awarded Pharmacy and Health Food Retailer of the Year two years in a row. Farmasiet allows customers to chat anonymously with pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to get helpful advice at home in a safe environment. They also provide advice on the phone or via email. To order prescription medicines from home, customers only need to log in with their BankID to receive their prescriptions automatically.
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The KNAPP Central Belt System is specially designed for picking medicines and other pharmacy products and increases productivity, throughput and picking performance in a relatively small space. © KNAPP/ Niederwieser
The Pack2Patient solution enables Farmasiet to fulfil patients’ online orders efficiently and securely. © KNAPP/ Niederwieser