AWG Ltd Invests in Accord Voice WMS

Grocery wholesaler, Appleby Westward Group Ltd (AWG), is investing almost £200,000 in BCP’s Accord™ Voice Recognition technology for its ambient goods distribution centre (RDC) at Saltash in Cornwall.

AWG is one of the top 20 UK grocery delivered wholesalers with turnover exceeding £140m. As part of the BWG Food Group and SPAR food distributor for the South and West of England, AWG services some 400 SPAR, independent and NAAFI stores across the region as well as exporting to NAAFI stores around the world. It operates from two main RDCs – Saltash in Cornwall, which handles all ambient goods, and a smaller depot in Cullompton, Devon, for chilled and frozen foods.

The investment in Voice encompasses BCP’s complete Accord Voice Directed Picking solution, operating with the latest Vocollect Talkman T5 terminals on a Symbol Technologies Spread Spectrum 24 RF network. It replaces a paper based ‘pick by label’ system and, when fully implemented, will be used by 32 pickers at the Saltash RDC. Supply chain specialist, BCP, is supplying the full solution, including all hardware, software and services, and is working with AWG’s specially appointed in-house Voice implementation team to install it as a phased implementation

The first phase – for bulk picking – went live in September, following a comprehensive pilot in a section of the department earlier in the summer, with the second phase – for picking in the Wines and Spirits, Tobacco, Pharmacy and Cake departments of the main warehouse – going live at the end of October. By Christmas all ambient picking should be handled by Voice.

It’s early days yet, but productivity and accuracy improvements from Voice are already coming through and, as Phil Brewer, AWG Operations & IT Director, explains: “We expect these to be more dramatic as picking in the main warehouse converts to Voice and operators have to pick splits and singles as well as cases and pallets.”

Moreover, pickers, initially a little sceptical about the new technology, have adapted to it quickly, finding it simple to learn and adopt. Phil Brewer: “Pickers really like the new technology and they’re now keen to extend it to other aspects of warehouse work as they have found it makes their jobs much easier.”

In the longer term AWG hopes to extend Voice to other areas of warehouse activity, possibly starting with Goods Receiving in the New Year, after the busy Christmas period. As Phil Brewer explains: “We’ll continue with a phased implementation as this is working very well, allowing us to transfer seamlessly to Voice and to handle on-going training in house.”