Apotea Automates E-Commerce Warehouse With A-Frame

Sweden’s most popular online store optimizes e-commerce warehouse in Morgongåva, Sweden, with a customized automation solution - processing around 100,000 orders per day.

With SSI SCHAEFER, Apotea found an efficient approach and reliable partner

Apotea is known for its large selection, very fast delivery and excellent service. Established in 2011, this Swedish company has grown rapidly. With an inventory of over 40,000 items and a capacity of up to 100,000 orders per day, Apotea is one of the fastest-growing online pharmacies and was recently named Sweden’s most popular e-commerce store. Apotea supplies pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, household and other products, always ensuring maximum quality, fair prices and exceptional delivery speed – the way a customer experience should be.

"When we started just over 12 years ago, it was a completely manual warehouse, we picked with our trolleys, paper lists etc. But in 2019 we began to automate and we started our cooperation with SSI SCHAEFER and expanded this automation until today, where 90-95% of all orders are automated".

Pär Svärdson
CEO of Apotea
Pär Svärdson
CEO of Apotea

Apotea’s first step into automating their warehouse in Morgongåva came with the first A-Frame that was implemented by SSI SCHAEFER in 2019, since then multiple extensions have been added with additional A-Frame modules and other picking capabilities. The latest and largest expansion step was made in the end of 2023 where SSI SCHAEFER implemented a new system doubling the performance of the entire Morgongåva warehouse. The core of the system is still the A-Frame picking system, which alone processes up to 70 percent of all orders – very quickly, reliably, fully automatically and without errors.

A-Frame replenishment

Apotea’s path to an automated warehouse

The collaboration with SSI SCHAEFER set a milestone right away; after just a short implementation period, the first A-Frame installation processed up to 1,400 orders per hour. This automatic picking solution for medium to fast-moving products in small packaging was the ideal choice for Apotea, and it came at just the right time. The A-Frame enabled the logistics center to cope with increasing demand for pharmaceuticals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To further optimize cycle times and processes in the warehouse Apotea opted in 2023 for three more A-Frame systems, two more Pick by Light picking aisles and four BD RowaTM Vmax dispensing robots for prescription drugs. A five-kilometer-long bin and carton conveying system links everything together into a comprehensive intralogistics system. 

Even now, e-commerce continues to boom and Apotea is maintaining its growth trajectory.

Utilization of SSI SCHAEFER's A-Frame

• 110 A-Frame modules for continuous order processing
• Up to 70 percent of all orders in a 3-shift operation
• High storage density on a small footprint
• Maximum efficiency through A-Frames and discrete picking
• The A-Frames are loaded up during less busy phases to allow uninterrupted picking during periods with higher order volumes

Apotea's Pär Svärdson is impressed by the easy handling and efficiency that the A-Frame offers, and its good Return on Investment (ROI):

“The A-Frame provides reliable, fully automatic picking for a large number of products, vastly increasing our efficiency. We’re extremely satisfied with this solution from SSI SCHAEFER and we look forward to further collaboration, advancing automation, and constantly expanding our capacity.”

Pär Svärdson
CEO of Apotea
Apotea Paer Svaerdson
Pär Svärdson
CEO of Apotea

A-Frame – the heart of this logistics solution

Today, with a total of 110 modules distributed among five lines, the A-Frames process the majority of the orders in a 3-shift operation. A particular highlight lies in how they decouple refilling and picking: the A-Frames are loaded up during less busy phases to allow uninterrupted picking during periods with higher order volumes. This ensures maximum productivity, even in peak periods.

Besides making employees’ jobs easier at the site, the ergonomic A-Frame systems from SSI SCHAEFER also achieve optimal utilization of the available space - thanks to their high storage density on a small footprint. Thus, they offer an efficient, intelligent solution that has quickly become the heart of the e-commerce warehouse. 

The A-Frame’s success helped to solidify a clear vision for Apotea, gradually transforming the warehouse, originally organized for manual picking, into a highly automated logistics center. Today, 90 percent of all orders are processed fully automatically in a minimum amount of time.

Perfectly integrated e-commerce fulfillment

The four BD RowaTM Vmax dispensing robots provide very compact storage of slow to medium movers and order-specific picking. This offers the perfect solution for prescription pharmaceuticals and thus the ideal addition to the existing A-Frames. 

Another advantage of the two systems is that both the A-Frame and BD RowaTM Vmax work with discrete picking. In this approach, all items are filled directly into shipping cartons, followed by automatic volume optimization. This saves valuable time, increases technical performance and makes the work much easier. Time-consuming packaging steps are no longer necessary. 

Intelligent WAMAS logistics software

The interplay among the individual solutions that Apotea uses is where they reach their full potential. To facilitate this, SSI SCHAEFER's intelligent WAMAS logistics software links all the processes in the warehouse together and reacts flexibly to changing conditions in the e-commerce business in real time. The coordination among the picking areas is optimized; an incoming order is allocated to one of them according to their utilization and processed as quickly as possible.

Successful steps towards a sustainable future

Smooth material flows, efficient warehouse management, the shortest possible processing times and maximum product availability: Apotea and SSI SCHAEFER's collaboration over the past few years has been a true success story in logistics. The modern, fully automatic solution for the distribution center in Morgongåva enables the online pharmacy to meet its customers’ high demands and uphold its top standard of service; it also puts the company in an excellent position to handle further growth and future peaks. 

Apotea takes the future seriously – not just in terms of the success of the company, but also with an eye to responsible resource use. “To us, it’s obvious that we need to start thinking about the future now. That includes making our actions as sustainable as possible and state-of-the-art technologies help us achieve that”, says Pär Svärdson. This was the motivation behind measures such as installing solar panels on the roof of the logistics center and investing in its own electric trucks. These trucks co-transport packages that would otherwise be transported by various shipping companies between the logistics center in Morgongåva and the package terminals in the Stockholm area. By taking over a part of the transport chain, transportation is streamlined, and emissions are reduced.

Through its clever designs, SSI SCHAEFER also contributes to greater sustainability - to save energy and further reduce operating costs, the conveying system switches off when required. In addition, automatically adapting cartons to the shipped items reduces volumes, saves packaging material, decreases the size of the deliveries, and thus helps achieve even better transport capacity utilization.

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