Ossian cuts a dash with VoiteQ

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Ossian Retail Group has invested in VoiteQs LogicMan as it plans its expansion into a new Distribution Centre.

The 154 store Ossian Retail Group is one of the UKs fastest growing retailers, trading under the names Au Naturale the home interiors chain and Internacionale teen to twenties high street fashion shops.

Ossian recently invested in 148,000 sq ft of warehousing space on the 650 acre Eurocentral business park in Lanarkshire, Scotland. When completed, this new distribution warehouse will be able to store goods seven bays high and will be able to accommodate 19,500 pallets. The new facility will feed our growing retail outlet network across the UK, and we expect the building project to be complete by September this year, explained Graham Clements, logistics director of Ossian Retail Group.

Significant benefits

In order to optimise its warehouse management operations, Ossian has selected VoiteQs fully voice directed LogicMan Warehouse Management System (WMS). Isabel McCabe, systems controller, Internacionale, explained the rationale behind the decision to source LogicMan: We have been a user of VoiteQs VoiceMan voice picking solution since the summer of 2004 and have achieved significant benefits. These include an accuracy increase of 20 per cent, efficiency up by 15 per cent and a reduction in manpower of 25 per cent. With results like these, a fully voice directed WMS was the obvious solution for the new warehouse. Our existing relationship with VoiteQ made the selection of supplier easy. VoiteQ has a vast knowledge of distribution; indeed it wrote LogicMan for its own distribution company. VoiteQ doesnt just bring a voice solution to the table, it brings a level of expertise that we dont have internally.

LogicMan utilises Vocollects wearable computers, comprising a securely fastened belt mounted Voice computer worn by the warehouse operatives with a headset/microphone. Instructions about the task in hand are sent to the pickers headset by his voice terminal from the WMS in real time. Apart from the obvious hands and eyes free benefits, the fact that we will be able to send tasks to the operators in real time means everything will be able to run concurrently, said McCabe. Therefore, we will be able to receive orders, pick product and dispatch goods all within a single shift. Through the use of LogicMan, we also plan to increase our picking productivity from 55 cases per hour to 110 cases per hour. In addition, we intend only to pick from ground level to increase operational speed and efficiency.

Safety first

How many times in the warehouse do you see forklift truck drivers trying to key information into a truck mounted terminal at the same time as they should be concentrating on their driving? added David Stanhope, VoiteQs CEO. By utilising LogicMan and the Talkman device they will be able to carry out all those functions simply by verbal interactions with the voice unit in real time a much safer and more efficient way of working.

VoiteQ will be working in partnership with Prologic, which has provided the central product management systems to run Ossians business for several years; LogicMan will integrate into Prologics CIMS solution to receive information on product updates and expected deliveries, as well as sending back information on stock movements and store orders despatched. In terms of LogicMan implementation, Ossian has already defined its project initiation document and is currently undergoing interface mapping sessions. Interface testing will begin in January 2008, with planned go live scheduled for March.

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