Accord Voice technology speaks volumes at BWG Foods

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Following a 250,000 investment in BCP's Voice Directed Warehouse Management System (WMS),  Irish wholesale and retail company BWG Foods is realising performance benefits across its business with improved operational efficiency and in turn a more accurate service to customers.

BWG Foods operates some of Ireland's foremost retail and wholesale brands including a network of more than 900 SPAR,  EuroSpar, Mace and XL symbol stores across the Republic of Ireland.  It also operates a chain of 22 Value Centre cash & carry outlets throughout the country, as well as BWG Foodservice and the Xpress Stop retail brand.
The Challenge
BWG Foods has always been keen to utilise the latest technology and adopt best practice in order to maximise efficiency in the service it offers its customers.  Recently the company undertook an extensive review of new technologies as part of a plan to upgrade and expand its wholesale operations and improve both business performance and customer service.  Key objectives included improved accuracy and productivity, the tracking of key processes and stock movements and a reduction in the costs associated with stock holding and man power.
The Solution
The review revealed that Voice technology could assist to deliver some of the improvements being sought and BWG Foods proceeded to evaluate solutions from a range of suppliers.   Ultimately, the company opted to deploy BCP's Accord Voice WMS as Veronica Sullivan, Head of IT at BWG Foods, explains:  "BCP emerged as the best fit for our business given it is a fully integrated solution capable of covering the complete range of our warehouse activities."
Voice was initially implemented in BWG Foods' Wholesale Division where, in 2008, a new purpose built depot at North Road in Dublin provided the opportunity to deploy Voice WMS from the outset.
The 52,000 sq foot facility brought together Value Centre Cash & Carry and BWG Foodservice in the same building for the first time to deliver maximum synergies for the two divisions and to provide both walk-in and delivered capabilities for customers.  Stocking 4,700 lines across ambient, chilled and frozen departments it handles some 300 orders a day for thousands of customers across the retail, licensed and foodservice trades.
The system deployed encompasses BCP's complete Accord Voice Directed WMS, operating with Vocollect's Talkman T5 terminals and a Motorola RF network, both supplied through Irish specialist, Heavey RF.
BCP worked closely with the BWG Foods in-house IT team, Heavey RF and building contractors to implement the system efficiently and have warehouse operators fully trained and ready to start as soon as each phase of the system came on line.  Prior to opening, Voice was used across Goods Receiving, Put Away and Transfers to stock the depot, with Picking going live when the depot opened its doors.
The Results
Given Voice has been used from inception, comparisons with paper based operations are not possible, however BWG Foods is delighted with how Voice is performing and the benefits it is bringing to the business.  "It's exceeded everyone's expectations, from our finance team to our trading team," reports Veronica Sullivan "and feedback from customers has also been very positive, particularly around the accuracy of deliveries."  Picking is virtually error free with order fulfilment running at 99%.
Real time information from the system is giving the business full visibility and an accurate audit trail across all aspects of the warehouse operation. Tracking live stock levels greatly improves the replenishment and ordering processes and, says Sullivan "the net result is that it's allowing us to reduce the amount of money we have tied up in stock."  In addition, substitutions in order assembly are now system-managed, helping BWG Foods to drive sales as well as further improving customer satisfaction. "It allows us to put in extra fills and particular promotional product lines to drive our products and range and ultimately deliver better value and satisfaction to the customer," explains Sullivan.
"Warehouse utilisation is excellent," reports Adrienne McDonnell, BWG Foods IT Project Manager for the implementation.  "The Accord Voice system helps us utilise the warehouse space in the most efficient and effective manner. We know immediately when a picking slot needs replenishment and exactly where that replenishment should come from so we can make the best use of operations."
Since implementation of voice at the North Road site BWG Foods has fully utilised voice stock taking functionality with its speed, efficiency and ability to produce stock variances and other key information in real time being a significant plus.
With the Accord Voice WMS proving so successful at the North Road site, BWG Foods has rolled out the same Voice solution at its retail distribution centre in Walkinstown and is now looking to take advantage of other functionality available with the system at both facilities.
Veronica Sullivan sums it all up: "The paper based systems were unable to offer the same level of flexibility and functionality as the Accord Voice WMS which we require to meet the company's requirements for growth and expansion. The technology is proving itself as we extend its use and the BWG Foods management team is delighted with its speed, efficiency and the real time visibility of key information it's delivering."

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