Reference story : Life Logistics

Life Logistics is a health food wholesaler that sells and distributes both to the owner Life’s approximately 200 own stores in the Nordics as well as to independent health food stores. The company suffered from growing and needed to make its central warehouse in Vallentuna more efficient, while delivery accuracy needed to be improved. A solution with voice picking, Pick-By-Voice, became an important building block. “Voice picking and random stock locations are simply a very good combination,” says CEO Bengt Svensson.

Voice important ingredient

Life Logistics has grown from a small operation to the Nordic region’s largest wholesaler of health products and natural medicines for health shops in the Nordic region. “We handle upwards of 30,000 order lines per week spread over roughly 4,000 products,” says the company’s CEO Bengt Svensson.

He has extensive experience in projects around voice picking, including as an independent consultant and previously in the rolse as a logistics manager at a leading food wholesaler in Sweden. During his time there, he was involved in the first project for voice picking in the grocery industry in Sweden. The good results in a number of warehouses meant that the chain chose to roll out voice picks throughout the country. With those experiences, there was no doubt that he believed that voice picking would be an important ingredient in the change in Life Logistic´s warehouse in Vallentuna, which suffered from growing, among other things.

As CEO of Life Logistics, he can now look back on a project where voice picking was introduced at the same time as the warehouse layout was redesigned. “We chose to make a simple traditional warehouse layout, but with random stock locations and voice picks to raise the quality level, be flexible and quite efficient. For example, we switched to random stock locations to be able to separate different batches and dates on the same items, among other things. “

Productivity improvements up to 20%

All this would not have been possible without voice picking, which enables the underlying WMS system not only to optimize the warehouse physically – and that the oldest goods are picked first – but also the entire picking process. “There are a number of steps during the picking process that are simply eliminated thanks to the fact that everything is handled by voice. A direct consequence of this is that you can, for example, pick more order lines per unit of time.” Bengt Svensson sees no alternative to voice picking when it comes to maximizing efficiency and quality in the traditional warehouse. This is regardless of the industry or the goods involved. “Voice in combination with random stock locations is simply a very good combination,” states the experienced CEO.

The results have not been long in coming at the Vallentuna warehouse, where voice picking has been used on a full scale since October 2012. “We estimate that the efficiency increase is between 15 and 20 percent. Picking errors – which we had some concerns with previously when using printed paper lists – are now in the closest eliminated. This applies to both missed order lines and errors in the form of an incorrect number of picked goods,” he says.

Problems with delivery quality that existed in the past, due to the rapid growth of the business, greatly affected the stores’ trust in the distribution company. “We had a number of views from the stores and of course wrong deliveries affected their trust in us. I notice a dramatic improvement in that there has been more or less silence from our customers regarding wrong deliveries. The stores have easier handling, fewer empty shelves and happier consumers, which is good for all parties.”

“This was way better!”

Possibilities for a picker to simultaneously handle several orders in parallel is not something that has yet been relevant for the warehouse so far, as the order size in practice is at least one pallet. “On the other hand, we will soon introduce “voice” also during inventory and replenishment in the warehouse. When receiving goods, it will probably be a solution with a scanner.” In the 4,000-square-meter warehouse, about twenty people work with the picking process itself. “Something that is characteristic of voice picking is that the learning threshold is very low and it is easy to introduce new staff,” he says.

Before voice picking was introduced, a number of study visits were made to reference facilities that use voice picking. He mentions that some of the warehouse’s staff were a little worried about the introduction, but that voice picking has proven to work very well. “The most skeptical have subsequently come and said that ‘this was much better’. No one wants to go back to paper and pencil. In addition to the obvious ergonomic advantages, it is believed that the voice also creates security in the picking moment itself,” concludes Bengt Svensson.

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