Foodservice distributor Creed Foodservice is realising major performance improvements following a £175,000 investment in Accord Voice Directed WMS from supply chain software and warehouse management systems specialist BCP (Business Computer Projects Ltd).
Award winning Creed Foodservice is one of the UK's leading independent, family-owned foodservice wholesalers, delivering quality Country Range brand and branded products to over 2000 independent and multi-site caterers across the UK in the out of home market. The company operates out of two depots – Ilkeston in Derbyshire and Cheltenham in Gloucestershire - using its own fleet of over 70 multi-temperature vehicles to service customers and trunk goods between the two depots. It prides itself on its excellent service levels and its approach to corporate social and environmental responsibility.
The investment in Voice technology for the company's multi-temperature depot at Ilkeston was prompted by growth and an ongoing commitment to operational efficiency and delivering the best possible customer service. Creed Foodservice's MD, Philip de Ternant, explains: "As we continue to grow we are continually looking at further improvements and efficiencies in our supply chain and in delivering quality to our customers. To underpin this we identified the need to give our managers better visibility of workloads and improved controls, and to improve productivity, pick accuracy and stock integrity."
The company was using RF for goods receiving and FLT movements, but Picking and Put away were still paper based. It saw Voice as the natural choice and addition to its suite of WMS software in order to deliver the improvements it required, particularly in terms of visibility, improved accuracy, productivity and stock integrity. Knowing of BCP's pedigree in delivering Voice WMS solutions to the foodservice sector, the company decided to invest in Accord Voice WMS with Vocollect hardware to manage all operations, wall-to-wall across the warehouse, from goods receiving through put away, picking and replenishment, to stocktaking and perpetual inventory.
BCP worked closely with Creed Foodservice's in-house IT team to phase in the Voice system, rolling it out first to the frozen foods department, followed by the chilled department and, finally, to ambient goods and non-foods operations.
The 55,000 sq foot warehouse is now managed entirely by Voice, operating 24 hours a day, six days a week and handling over 200 deliveries a day, picked from over 6,000 SKU's, in addition to Inter Branch Transfers and nightly sub supply. 25 workers use the system across three shifts - goods in, replenishment and PI during the day and Picking and loading on the night shifts.
"Accord Voice has delivered to our planned expectations, transforming operations at Ilkeston," says Philip de Ternant. "Efficiency has improved across all operations while real time information from the system has transformed visibility and traceability throughout the business, improving stock integrity and replenishment."
A 20% productivity increase has been one of the most significant improvements, as workers have benefitted from the intrinsic nature of Voice which eliminates the need for hand–held devices or paper instructions (thereby freeing up both hands and eyes for the task, so operators can work faster and safer) and allows them to interact directly with the WMS rather than having to interrupt work to visit the office to collect new task lists, while more accurate, real-time stock information has reduced re-picks and time spent investigating stock discrepancies.
Accuracy throughout the warehouse has improved, with picking accuracy now less than 1 error per 1000 items picked, impacting positively on service levels, slashing the costs involved with handling returns and allowing Creed Foodservice to dispense with a double pick checking procedure previously employed.
There has also been a major reduction in time spent on administrative tasks, resulting from the elimination of paper lists and associated tasks, such as printing and distributing lists and re-keying picking confirmations and order amendments. This has not only reduced costs, but allowed administrative staff to be redeployed more productively.
The company was already using Perpetual Inventory (PI) for stock taking, but the move to Voice PI has improved both the speed and accuracy of the process, while bespoke Accord FLT functionality to accommodate the narrow aisle configuration of the Ilkeston warehouse has been particularly effective in streamlining FLT operations, improving both control and accuracy.
The new technology has been readily adopted by warehouse workers with one user commenting: "No pen; no clipboard! I'm hands free to pick and get on with my job – and it's even better in the freezer as I am now able to wear thermo gloves which were restrictive in use when I had to handle and write on paper lists".
Training of new workers is now much faster. Operations Controller, Neil Corfield: "Initially the roll out took around 4 weeks to fully utilise the full functionality for the team. Now new staff can be trained to pick in hours, not days as before, so they become a productive member of the team much more quickly."
Philip de Ternant concludes: "BCP's Accord Voice solution at our Ilkeston depot has, as anticipated, proved an excellent fit to our requirements, quickly delivering the improvements we anticipated, thereby allowing us to reduce costs yet improve the service we give to our customers. So much so, that we are now looking to start implementing Voice picking at our Cheltenham site towards the end of 2015 so we can realise the same improvements there."