Vocollect Voice improved the accuracy and speed of warehouse picking beyond expectations at Tuko Logistics Cooperative´s Kerava distribution centre.
Tuko Logistics is a procurement and logistics company with a turnover of 760million euro (in 2011) and some 800 employees. Measuring 60 000 square meters the distribution centre in Kerava specialises in handling dry goods and fresh food.
In 2004 Tuko Logistics took the decision to upgrade its entire warehouse management system (WMS), with the implementation of Vocollect Voice technology, delivered by Optiscan Oy in order to increase productivity levels. Up until this point, Tuko Logistics had been using paper-based systems not only for its picking operation, but also for goods receiving and shipping. Voice technology enabled paperless picking, improving both productivity and accuracy by allowing simultaneous multi-order picking (for multiple customers), whilst the automated use of wireless data collection devices eliminated the need for paper in Tuko Logistics´ goods receiving and shipping processes, with the collected data being transferred back into the WMS via WLAN. In order to ensure the migration to a paperless warehouse ran as smoothly as possible, Tuko Logisitics decided to keep the customisation of the picking process to a minimum and revise its working processes to maximise efficiency.
Analysing the business benefits - with positive results!
Since implementing the above technology changes, Tuko Logistics has carefully analysed the benefits of the project and has closely followed its progress. Its internal audit has been validated by an independent consultant:z.
Tuko Logistics set a goal of reducing its picking errors by 50%. Analysis showed that most of the errors were coming from a particular area of the warehouse, where the pickers were ending up in the wrong aisle. This was immediately rectified with the use of check digits necessary to the voice system. The reduction of errors was more impressive than projected. The resulting productivity increase more than doubled of expectations - even before the warehouse layout optimization system had been put into place!. The seconds saved with each pick at such high operation volumes translated into significant time saving.
Hands Free - Eyes Free - The advantages of Voice-Directed Work
Voice-directed workers wear head-sets, leaving their eyes and hands free. They hear relevant instructions from the warehouse management system only when needed, enabling total focus on each step, without distraction or delay. Each spoken response is validated to ensure accuracy, before the next instruction is delivered. During its audit, Tuko Logistics discovered that employees also benefitted from an improvement in ergonomics through hands-free, eyes-free working.
By delivering step-by-step, just-in-time instructions and mentoring, voice technology results in a multi- skilled workforce capable of executing any workflow without the need for specific training. This provides total flexibility and a dynamic agility to react to any situation. This is particularly relevant in times of seasonal peaks, where extra staff may be required to cope with increased demand.
Shift managers benefit by having a real-time view of the current workload so they can make decisions on moving employees between workflows to meet ever more demanding deadlines. In many cases this reduces the need to employ additional labor.
Initially Tuko had thought the deployment of the Voice system would be the biggest challenge in renewing the warehouse system. But detailed planning ensured that the implementation of the Voice system was easier than expected. The success of the project was assured by thorough testing and training. One of the key factors of the success was the change management programme with its open, active and timely communication that took into account all the stakeholders.
Today over 300 workers at Kerava distribution centre use Vocollect Voice-directed work system for picking and almost 70 000 rows are picked daily from as many as 15 000 pick locations.