BCP Leads the way with Voice Technology

Business Computer Projects Ltd (BCP), one of the country’s top suppliers of specialist Supply Chain solutions, is leading the way in introducing Voice technology to the UK Distribution market with three key clients now implementingAccord Voice Technology on a major scale. James Hall & Co (Southport) Ltd, Pedigree Wholesale Ltd and CJ Lang & Son Ltd have all invested in this exciting new technology which will enable them to improve productivity, accuracy and service levels to their customers.SPAR wholesaler James Hall is implementing an 80 user Accord Voice Picking system at its Preston RDC, with the first stage – for handling frozen foods – due to go live in July, while Pedigree Wholesale has ordered an Accord Voice activated Warehouse Management System for its main distribution centre in Nottingham, as part of a recent investment in a complete Accord solution for its pet products wholesaling business. This system will be implemented in a series of stages over the next six to eight months.

Furthest along the line, however, is CJ Lang and Son, Scotland’s largest independent retail and distribution company, who has implemented the complete suite of Accord Voice Directed Warehouse Management modules at its Retail Distribution Centre (RDC) in Dundee. As SPAR wholesaler for Scotland, CJ Lang services some 45% of Scotland’s independent retailers from this RDC, including its own chain of company owned stores.

BCP have supplied the full solution including all hardware, software and services. The solution encompasses BCP’s Accord Voice Directed Warehouse Management software modules, operating with Vocollect Talkman T2 terminals on a Symbol Technologies Spread Spectrum 24 RF network. BCP has partnered with Voiteq and Vocollect to source all the components of the total solution.

Voice Technology involves the use of a wearable computer, worn round the waist, with a headset and microphone so that workers receive instructions by Voice via the headset and verbally confirm their actions, ask questions and report shortages back to the system through the microphone. The wearable computer communicates with the Warehouse Management System (WMS) via a radio frequency (RF) local area network, updating it in real time as each task is completed.

Voice Technology transforms the way warehouse operators work: eliminating the need for hand–held devices or paper instructions allows them to work hands-free and eyes-free, therefore, faster and safer; substituting manual entry of data with verbal instructions and verification eliminates errors and saves time. Productivity increases of 20% and accuracy levels of 99.9% are typical.

CJ Lang’s new Voice system covers the whole range of warehouse activities, from goods in to goods out, including Goods Receiving, Fork Lift Truck movements, Order Picking, Pick face replenishments, Stock Taking and Perpetual Inventory Management. Utilising Voice terminals throughout it has transformed the RDC from a predominantly paper-based to a true paper-free operation.

The implementation was undertaken in a series of phases to ensure that service to customers was in no way disrupted during the implementation, C J Lang working closely with BCP throughout to ensure the system precisely matched their needs. Graham Murdoch, IT director for CJ Lang & Son, explains: “The system is very leading edge so careful planning is essential to successful deployment. Initially we conducted a comprehensive trial of the system in a pilot area within the warehouse. Not only did this enable us to ensure the system was working as designed, but we were able to demonstrate the dramatic increases in speed and accuracy of the workforce that could be made.”

The system is now live throughout the RDC at Longtown Road. Graham Murdoch sums up: “After the six month development and pilot phase, we are now fully operational and it is clear that the introduction of Voice has made great improvements, not just to the productivity of the warehouse operation, but to the service we offer to our SPAR retailers.”