Supermarket chain invests €650,000 in voice tech for warehouse

28 Oct 2008

Supermarket chain owner ADM Londis has invested €650,000 in a new voice-picking system for its warehouse and distribution operation at its headquarters in Kildare.

The joint initiative between ADM Londis and TDG Logistics resulted in a new hands-free voice-picking system being implemented in the 90,000sq ft warehouse.

Hands-free headsets enable staff to simply follow the voice directions, which outline the next item to be picked with specific instructions as to its location and product quantity required, allowing them to concentrate completely on the task of product picking.

Londis engaged with leading supply-chain software provider BCP and installation and hardware providers Heavey RF to devise the innovative voice-picking platform.

This investment in logistical infrastructure for the warehouse has a number of benefits for both ADM Londis and its retailers spread across its nationwide network of 373 Londis stores.

The voice-picking warehouse management system has resulted in improved picking accuracy, reduced mis-picks, as well as improving the sequence of picking around the warehouse.

The net result has been an improvement to the overall service levels to ADM Londis customers, as can be seen by the claims reduction of over 50pc, as well as improvements in the way products are packed for delivery, which in turn has reduced breakages to Londis retailers by around 10pc.

Improvements in worker productivity have resulted in a reduction in the amount of time required for order processing. Voice picking also provides for excellent transparency vis à vis warehousing and picking activities, giving pick confirmations in real-time.  This leads to a much reduced reaction time in dealing with potential stock-holding issues, further ensuring that Londis customers get exactly what they order.

The improved on-time reporting from the system, together with the on-screen key performance indicators also means that available warehouse resources can be focused on key tasks, and workload can be quickly altered to continuously ensure that Londis is responding more rapidly than its competitors to its retailers’ changing demands.

These improvements to customer service levels have been achieved with a reduction in warehouse running costs of approximately €300,000 per annum, which has included savings in stock damages and stock losses.

“ADM Londis are driven to deliver world-class customer service, which has required us to review the every-day services completed by warehouse staff,” Claude Tonna Barthet, head of supply chain ADM Londis, explained.

“Radical changes to improve service levels could not have been achieved without the implementation of the voice-picking software. This implementation is the culmination of a six-month project and is the keystone in the group’s investment of over €2m in the warehouse over the past two years, ensuring that the group can make important warehouse management decisions based on the most up-to-date, current information.”

By John Kennedy

Pictured: Emma Gregan, head office IT manager, ADM Londis, Claude Tonna-Barthet, head of group IT, logistics and customer service, ADM Londis, and Stephen Kelly, warehouse operations manager, TDG

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years