By Anton du Preez, group sales director, VoiteQ.
Seasonal peaks are things that bring opportunity and challenge, for their increase in business but also for their increased demand and pressure through the supply chain. The warehouse is paramount to ensuring the entire operation runs smoothly and that customers receive their goods on time, after all 'trick or treaters' won't knock on November 1st just because your delivery didn't arrive.
VoiteQ's Voice solutions have successfully supported retailers and foodservice providers through numerous business peaks such as Christmas, Easter, the Olympics and the Jubilee. With the festive season approaching, here are some points you should consider to make your warehouse operations run smoothly and cost-effectively using Voice technology:
1. One chance to get it right
Customers, whether a store network or direct consumers, expect the right goods at the right time throughout the year; however, during peak times this is non-negotiable – an inaccurate order could cost you dearly in returns, stock-outs and worse still customer loyalty.
It's commonly known that one of the biggest benefits of a Voice application is the increase in order accuracy and turnaround times. When contingency is tight and customer expectation is high, you can't afford to get it wrong.
2. Flexiblc staffing
Not only will you face added pressure on operations, inventory, SLAs and delivery schedules; you will also be under pressure to keep costs down. Often one of your biggest costs, staffing, means that it's important to them performing optimally.
With Vocollect's trained Voice technology (also known as 'speaker dependent Voice'), you can increase staff performance levels by giving them the best voice recognition from the outset. The system guides associates of any nationality step-by-step through their business process ensuring consistency, accuracy and performance. Users are able to get up and running in just a couple of hours and due to the productivity gains, your requirement for temporary staff is lowered – helping to save you money.
3. Ensure full operational visibility
It's imperative that during times of increased throughput the business maintains visibility of warehouse activity as well as staying in control of operations. Using VoiteQ's web-based dashboard and reporting tools, your key stakeholders and supervisors will have access in real-time to key operational information enabling them to monitor progress, identify problems and immediately take action – meaning that your supply chain runs smoothly and customers are happy.
4. Multi-order fulfilment
Whichever way you look at it Voice improves efficiency. When you only have short turnaround windows, Voice allows you to efficiently and accurately pick multiple orders in one go or balance large orders across a team of pickers. A good Voice execution system can also prioritise work to match your business requirements and consolidate orders by region, store, weight and so on.
5. Remove additional check and audits
At times of increased capacity, you can be faced with the tough choice between quality and throughput. Voice allows you to move the checks to the point where the goods are first handled, ensuring that the picker gets it right first time and reduces or even removes the need for extra checks. Unlike paper and handheld terminals, the hands-free way of working - that Voice technology enables - means that these checks don't add extra time to the picking process. With VoiteQ's VoiceMan solution you can even combine picking and packing processes to achieve additional efficiencies, particularly for e-commerce fulfilment.
6. Increase efficiency in the frozen environment
How can you ensure that your staff working in chilled and frozen environments are performing at their best? The simple fact is to keep them warm; other non-voice solutions may require protective clothing to be removed – 90 per cent of the circulation in our hands is used to keep warm, which is why cold hands quickly lose dexterity and staff lose concentration.
A hands-free/eyes-free Voice application enables your staff to wear their full protective clothing at all times, resulting in a safer, happier workforce and quick, accurate picks.
7. Don't let technology cause delays
Ensure you have high-availability systems in place that do not compromise your service levels, especially during critical trading peaks in the year. During these times capacity can double; the added pressure placed on your systems can result in unexpected downtime.
Voice is more than just clever technology; working in conjunction with your IT service provider, ask your Voice supplier to run server checks and provide high-availably options to ensure your systems are operating at peak performance and downtime is avoided. Having in-country hardware support that provides pre-peak preventative maintenance and quick repairs is also key to a minimising costly disruption.
8. Don't let your next peak catch you out – After peak analysis
Planning for the next seasonal peak is key and by using the comprehensive management analytics provided by reporting tools such as VoiteQ's InfoCentre reporting suite, you can review in detail how your operation performed and identify further opportunities to improve for the next peak.
To understand how Voice can help you further at peak times, email firstname.lastname@example.org or book a consultation at: www.voiteq.com/voice