INFORMATION: Free information is available from CHESS on the subject in this story. Click here to request a copy

Voice picking and radio frequency (RF) goods intake processes have been implemented by Chess Logistics Technology as part of an advanced warehouse management solution for DHL Exel to support a contract covering distribution to more than 350 BP Retail forecourt stores.

Chess integrated components of its latest Empirica warehouse management software with one of its earlier applications in use at DHL Exel to create a new solution that met requirements for advanced performance and reliability.

DHL Exel's dedicated National Distribution Centre (NDC) at Magna Park, near Lutterworth, operates 24/7 to provide consolidated distribution of frozen, chilled and ambient goods to over 350 BP Retail forecourt stores throughout the UK.

Chess has supplied warehouse management systems to DHL Exel for use on other contracts for more than six years. The new contract has much in common with one of the existing installations and it was agreed that a similar implementation, based on the addition of advanced features to the same core Chess application, would meet the business requirements. The core application contains not only WMS features but also extensive functionality for sales and purchase order processing.

A major requirement was to implement the new RF and voice picking technologies to work in conjunction with the existing Chess WMS, known as Socretes. These functions are fully supported by the latest version of the Empirica software and the most effective solution was to integrate the old and new systems. The process was simplified because Empirica includes facilities to create links with other applications and this helped the joint team to deliver the solution on schedule.

With voice picking, staff wear unobtrusive headsets and follow audible instructions issued directly by the warehouse management system. Operatives respond by speaking into the headset's microphone with information such as check digits, to confirm the completion of the pick or to request instructions to be repeated. The WMS issues instructions in sequence and only authorises a new pick when the preceding action has been confirmed. Picking efficiency is maximised because staff work hands-free at all times and do not need to worry about reading paper or on-screen instructions. Picking errors are minimised because staff follow clear and unambiguous instructions.

Another key requirement for the new system was to support picking of high value security items such as alcohol and tobacco products. As these are picked they are placed into a special see-through bag that cannot be opened until the receiving store manager has checked the contents to make sure they have not been tampered with in transit. Chess devised a special routine to print a media contents label that details the bag's contents. When the order has been fully picked the operative speaks an audible "marshall" command that confirms the task's completion and prompts the label to be printed.

The new Empirica-based system also manages goods intake and put-away tasks by interfacing with truck mounted RF terminals. Warehouse staff follow on-screen instructions issued by the warehouse management system and confirm their actions on the keypad before moving on to new tasks.

Chess Logistics Technology Limited ( has provided software for logistics and distribution applications for more than twenty years and is recognised as a specialist in its field. The company has an extensive client list of national and international companies.

INFORMATION: Free information is available from CHESS on the subject in this story. Click here to request a copy

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