AWG slashes picking errors with Voice WMS

Grocery wholesaler, Appleby Westward Group Ltd (AWG), reports a 97.3% reduction in picking errors, saving over £100,000 p.a., following its investment in BCP’s Accord® Voice WMS technology.

Computerised for years, using BCP’s Accord warehouse management software, AWG used RF scanning technology for Goods Receiving, FLT put-away and replenishment, but still picked orders using manual pick-by-label. This was efficient, but subject to human inaccuracy. AWG was keen to improve picking accuracy, provide a better service to customers and reduce the substantial costs associated with incorrect deliveries.

Witnessing the success of Voice WMS technology at fellow SPAR distributors, James Hall and CJ Lang, AWG decided to invest in the same Accord® Voice WMS solution for its 7,200m2 ambient RDC at Saltash, Cornwall.

The investment encompasses BCP’s complete Accord® Voice Picking solution, operating with the latest Vocollect Talkman T5 terminals and a Symbol Technologies RF network. BCP has supplied the full solution, working closely with AWG’s in-house Voice implementation team to install the system in phases in order to build up in-house experience and minimise disruption.

Within six months order picking at Saltash was completely converted to Voice Picking and improvements have exceeded expectations.

Picking accuracy has improved significantly, error claims reducing by over 97%. Philip Brewer, AWG Operations and IT Director: “This alone represents a saving of £2000 per week in additional sales and customer stores are benefiting from the greater accuracy with the right products in the right place at the right time.”

Potential productivity improvements were not used to justify the investment in voice picking, but improvements here include an ambient pick rate increase of about 5 packs per hour.

Pickers, initially sceptical, have adapted to Voice Picking quickly, finding it simple to learn and adopt. Philip Brewer: “Assemblers – even those who’ve been with us for years and very settled into the old system – really like the new technology. They’re keen to extend it to other warehouse activities as they’ve found it makes their jobs much easier.”

Since the initial investment, AWG has introduced Directed Replenishment of the pick face. Stock levels at the pick face are monitored in real time and FLT drivers directed to replenish items. Warehouse service levels are now 98.33%, an improvement on the manual ‘flag’ system.

Philip Brewer: “Improvements have certainly exceeded expectations. We’re delighted with the accuracy improvements and the capital this is releasing will contribute significantly to a rapid payback on the project.”

Read the full case study…

Voice technology is available across all of the Accord Voice WMS warehouse management software modules, including Voice Picking, Goods Receiving, Stock taking, Pallet Put Away and Picking Face replenishment.