BEC - Exclusive interview with Alan O’Neill, IT Manager at Horseware Ireland

This time it’s with Alan O’Neill, IT Manager at Horseware Ireland, one of the world’s best-known manufacturers of riding wear, leisure wear, horse rugs, equestrian products and accessories.

Alan has worked at Horseware Ireland in his current role since 2007. In this interview, Alan discusses how he and his team worked with BEC to create and implement a voice-enabled Warehouse Management Solution designed to improve the company’s mission-critical processes and enhance its customer service, whilst increasing worker productivity by up to 35%.

1. What are your main areas of responsibility within Horseware Ireland?

As the company’s IT Manager my primary responsibility is to ensure that all our IT systems, including the network, servers and data capture devices, communicate effectively with one another and also that our IT security functions as it should.

2. How long have you been a BEC customer?

We have been a BEC customer since 2014.

3. How did you first come into contact with BEC?

We first came into contact with BEC through some of our contacts within the M3 User Association (MUA). We got in touch with them and they came over to our facility in Ireland to present their voice-enabled WMS solution.

At the time we were discussing our requirements with a number of companies, however after discovering what BEC had to offer and experiencing first-hand the professionalism which they displayed during these initial discussions, we took the decision to work with them and implement their solution within our warehouse in Ireland and eventually also within our warehouse in the US.

4. Which BEC solution are you currently using?

We are using BEC’s eSmart voice-enabled WMS software solution within our facility.

5. In which parts of your facility is BEC’s eSmart WMS voice-enabled software solution used?

We are currently using the solution within the storage, picking, packing, replenishment and distribution areas of our warehousing facility.

6. How is the BEC solution used within your warehousing facility?

The BEC solution is currently being used within two of our facilities – our headquarters in Dundalk, Ireland and our North American base in Kinston, North Carolina.

The voice-enabled solution which consists of Honeywell Vocollect A710 Talkman devices and SRX2 advanced speech-recognition wireless headsets is used within various areas of both our Irish and American facilities, namely storage, picking, packing, replenishment and distribution.

The solution is being used in a number of ways, helping to provide us with much more accurate, real-time and fluid information within and between all the main areas of the business in which it is deployed.

7. What type of solution were you using before you deployed your BEC solution?

Before we deployed the BEC solution we were using a very simple scanning system with paper pick lists for each user. Although basic, the system was suitable at the time, however having experienced a 50% increase in turnover during the last 7 years, we knew that we needed a much faster and more efficient data capture solution that would grow with our business.

8. What have been the main business benefits you have experienced/achieved as a result of your BEC eSmart WMS software solution?

There have been many business benefits which have resulted from the deployment of the BEC solution.

Stock accuracy has improved; picking and packing has become faster and almost error-free; orders are being processed much more quickly and our replenishment cycle has become far more streamlined, meaning that products are always available on the shelves ready to be picked.

We undertake cycle counts every day and as a result of the BEC solution, we are seeing very little variances on stock control which is a huge benefit to us.

We have also witnessed increased efficiencies throughout both our facilities, as well as a huge improvement in our customer service and satisfaction levels.

As a result, the number of phone calls coming back into the company is significantly reduced as the information being sent out to our customers is much more precise and timely, such as improved stock accuracy, order status and delivery information. We are also seeing a huge reduction in complaints of order shortages or missed items within a delivery.

The BEC solution has without doubt helped us achieve this extremely high standard of communication with our customers, which has meant time savings and benefits on both sides.

In addition, our new employee induction process is seamless as the solution is extremely easy and intuitive to use. We tend to take on temporary staff during particularly busy seasonal periods, so this is a crucial benefit to us as well.

9. What ERP system are you currently using?

We were previously using Movex 11.4 and have just migrated to M3 13.4.

10. How have your workers found the transition between your old picking system and the new BEC solution?

Compared to the old system, it’s like night and day! Our workers’ hands are now freed up to do extra work whilst making their tasks faster and easier to complete.

We also involved our warehouse staff at the very start of the solution selection process and welcomed their input with regard to selecting the data capture hardware. We also encouraged them to be present during product demonstrations so that the new devices weren’t a shock to the system when they started to use them. They love the new solution and would never go back to the old system.

The voice solution also works with a huge range of languages, dialects and accents, so the training of our permanent, temporary and seasonal staff is much quicker and easier than before.

11. Why did you choose BEC to work with you on your warehouse automation project?

One of the main factors in choosing to work with BEC was due to the fact that they had a lot of experience with the Movex M3 ERP system which we had deployed within our warehouse. We were also able to speak to some of their existing customers to discover the business benefits which they had experienced having deployed a BEC solution, which in turn gave us the confidence that they would be able to work well with us.

The price which they quoted was also firmly within our budget scope.

12. What are BEC’s specific USPs?

Having decided to work with BEC, we found that they really took the time to understand the exact solution we needed, as well as providing a clear idea of timescales for the solution roll-out.

They also showed a comprehensive understanding of our working environment, which allowed them to identify more processes within their solution which would directly benefit us as a business. They understood that an ‘out-of-the-box’ solution wasn’t going to work for us and offered us the opportunity to develop a bespoke WMS which satisfied all our warehouse and logistics requirements.

Along with 25 years’ experience and a strong working knowledge of Movex M3, BEC gave us the confidence we needed in order to improve upon the previous basic data capture processes which were utilised within our facility. They also showcased a very strong relationship with the hardware vendor and were obviously highly experienced in developing, designing and deploying voice-enabled data capture solutions.

13. Do you have any plans to extend your BEC solution further or do you have any new applications which you are currently considering?

We have recently been working with BEC to deploy the new Infor M3 ERP system, which was an extremely smooth transition thanks to their skill, knowledge and expertise.

14. What are the main benefits you have found working with BEC?

There are a whole host of benefits which have resulted from working with BEC.

Primarily, they were extremely responsive and flexible to our working environment and really took the time to understand the solution we required. As a result, coupled with their vast amount of experience with deploying voice solutions particularly within an M3 environment, we have got everything we wanted and more.

On the occasions that we have required technical assistance, the resolution time has been always extremely quick and efficient with a positive outcome.

15. How would you rate your experience with BEC?

Our experience with BEC has been excellent and we really feel that we have a very good partnership and relationship with BEC.

As a business, we have received fantastic customer satisfaction reports as a result of the BEC solution, coupled with a significant reduction in customer calls and complaints.

The implementation ran extremely smoothly, with BEC delivering everything they said they would from the offset. The solution has helped us to cope with our unprecedented commercial growth and rise in demand and we are confident that the solution will continue to grow with our business.

We are so glad that we implemented the BEC solution and would recommend that any company looking to implement voice or any kind of data capture automation within their facility speaks to BEC so that they too can experience the unrivalled technology solution and experience which we did.

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