Connect Distribution increases productivity using Voice

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Following a successful trial of VoiteQ's Voice-directed order picking solution Connect Distribution has decided to install the technology, which incorporates a Voice-directed work solution from Vocollect. The decision to implement the solution follows an initial 20% increase in productivity, virtually no picking errors and high user acceptance during the 4 week trial. The implementation will utilise VoiteQ's VoiceMan middleware and Vocollect wearable computers. This solution will replace Connect's existing paper-based zone picking on conveyors, feeding the packing operation.  



Each operative works in a specified zone of the conveyor, as the totes move along the conveyor through each zone the operatives are directed by the system to pick the items for that order. The system automatically generates the required labels on a belt-mounted printer and the operative is directed to place the labelled item into the correct tote on the conveyor. Once the tote has completed a full tour of the conveyor and the order is fulfilled, it is fed into the packing operation to be prepared for despatch.  

Iain Priestley, Head of Operations at Connect Distribution Services said: "We offer a guaranteed same day despatch on trade and premium consumer orders, and through a seamless implementation we were able to maintain these service levels. Now fully implemented, we are achieving productivity gains of over 30% which outstripped our initial expectations and reduced the return on investment period. User acceptance has been very high and as our pickers are incentivised, they are clearly delighted with the investment."

VoiteQ's VoiceMan middleware interfaces between the Vocollect Talkman T5 wearable computer and Connect's existing in-house warehouse management system, WMS. Operatives can work completely hands and eyes free by receiving picking commands from the WMS to a plug-in headset and the computer, the system literally talks the operative through their task. The Voice-directed application not only typically delivers accuracy levels exceeding 99.9%, but also increases visibility across the operation.

Priestley concluded: "Voice technology has been a great success for Connect and we are already assessing the introduction of voice to other areas of the operation such as our bulk stores and stocktaking process, where we consider there to be massive potential."

David Stanhope, VoiteQ's CEO commented: "Voice will provide Connect Distribution with the increase in productivity that they require to enable them to meet their promise to customers of same day despatch and allow them to complete the orders faster. Not only does this improve their already high levels of customer service, but also delivers a very rapid return on their investment in voice technology."

Gary Glessner, VP and Managing Director, Vocollect EMEA said: "Voice-directed work is ideal for distribution operations such as Connect Distribution where orders range from tiny electrical components through to heavy domestic appliances. The hands-free process makes the staff more agile and also enables them to ensure the correct lifting positions. Added to this, the ability to change pick lists simultaneously to orders coming in makes Voice-directed work invaluable in a customer-collection led environment.

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