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

VoiteQ is chosen to provide voice picking system at NHS Supply Chain distribution centre

NHS Supply Chain, which supplies consumable products to every hospital in England, recently invested in a voice picking system from VoiteQ, the UKs largest software supplier of voice recognition solutions for warehouse and distribution. As part of NHS Supply Chains drive to increase productivity, it will implement the technology at its Distribution Centre (DC) in Alfreton, Derbyshire, with a view to then extending the roll-out to five other DCs. The new system uses VoiteQs leading VoiceMan middleware solution, together with Vocollects world leading Talkman voice picking technology, replacing an existing radio frequency (RF) system that uses hand held terminals. 

NHS Supply Chain (formerly NHS Logistics prior to being outsourced to DHL on 1st October 2006, and encompassing some elements of work from the NHS Purchasing and Supplies Agency) provides a dedicated supply chain service to the English NHS. The organisation offers a route to market for suppliers of critical use consumable products, ranging from medical and surgical supplies to stationery, cleaning materials and catering provisions. The company provides over 500,000 products, serving a customer base of over 600 hospitals and other healthcare organisations within the English NHS, and employing around 1600 staff.

The technology will integrate with the companys existing warehouse management system (WMS), delivering voice picking instructions that are transmitted over a wireless network. These instructions are received by the Talkman device, which consists of a voice computer attached to a securely fastened belt and a headset worn by the warehouse operative. Once an action has been completed it is vocally confirmed, ensuring that stock records in the warehouse are updated instantly. The device recognises voice patterns and sounds rather than words, so it can understand any language or dialect.

Syd Greig, Distribution Centre Controller at NHS Supply Chains Alfreton base, comments, We migrated from a paper based system about five years ago to a system of hand-held terminals over an RF network. Voice technology is the next evolutionary step for us. As well as increased productivity we are expecting to see improvements in picking accuracy industry standard rates are over 99.9% accurate for voice picking and we expect to attain this. Other benefits we anticipate are a reduction in staff training time due to the usability of the devices, and also a safer warehouse. Operatives who are hands-free, eyes-free enabled, are able to navigate the warehouse more easily and are more alert to any potential hazards around them.

The original procurement process was conducted under the organisations former name of NHS Logistics, a publicly-funded organisation of the NHS Business Services Authority. As such, a meticulous procurement exercise was carried out (as stipulated in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU)) prior to a provider being selected.  A shortlist of companies was drawn up, and after in-depth meetings and detailed research into VoiteQs previous implementations, including site visits and interviews with existing customers, VoiteQ was chosen as the successful provider.

Chris Williams, Operations Director at NHS Supply Chain, says We have clear business objectives and are geared towards procuring tried and tested systems.  We need to be confident that all technology we purchase is proven and will deliver the best return on investment.  VoiteQ has a successful track record of delivering VoiceMan into warehouses, and the technology is reliable, effective and easy to use. VoiteQ clearly understands the specific needs of our industry and is able to meet our requirements.

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

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