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Anatomy of a picking solution

12 December 2012

Belgravium explains how voice picking can help control warehouse operations B rate has risen." elgravium has installed a voice picking solution at The Channel Island Co-operative Society (CICS). The solution extends t

Belgravium explains how voice picking can help control warehouse operations

B rate has risen." elgravium has installed a voice picking solution at The Channel Island Co-operative Society (CICS). The solution extends the use of the RF technology to cover the full spectrum of warehouse activities including the picking and load dispatch operations. CICS now has ability to view which users are operating in the warehouse and can allocate pick assignments simply and quickly, automatically directing each picker to their next assignment via their voice recognition headset.

At the start of the picking operation, users will allocate three roll cages to an assignment. Each roll cage is labelled with a barcode and a 4 digit number which is then scanned into a picking assignment. The three roll cages are identified as A (Alpha), B (Beta) and C (Charlie) - an identity which will stay with them throughout the whole of the picking operation. From the voice recognition system, the user will be directed to a bin or pick location via voice commands, the user will pick the specified item and nominates which roll cage the item should be placed in. Finally, the pick is verbally confirmed by speech. Once a pick assignment has been completed, the user will verbally confirm this via speech. This will enable a roll cage label to be produced and attached to the completed picked cage. The cages are then moved to the loading area for dispatch to stores.

Part of the pick to voice solution enabled the development of the dispatch function. Utilising traditional scanning for this function, users scan the barcodes on each roll cage with the Atlanta handheld terminal, for the completed order, prior to loading it onto the delivery vehicle.

Since the system went live, the average pick rate has risen.

The voice directed picking keeps users focused and less distracted. The improvement in efficiency has resulted in numerous benefits for CICS through increased productivity, accurate consignments and timely deliveries. The increased productivity within the warehouse has reduced the need for overtime, and continues to deliver significant cost savings to CICS.

In addition, the system has facilitated greater visibility of the warehouse operation as a management tool. The ability to log in remotely in real time means CICS are able to constantly monitor the pick rates in the operation. Should there be a dip in these, they can quickly identify the reason why and put the corrective action in place - reducing the disruption and maintaining an efficient operation.

It has also allowed the distribution centre to be a lot more reactive to store requirements. The ability to view stock before it arrives in-store, allows the store to identify stock location and availability for empty shelves. The system allows CICS to dispatch early, in order to fill the empty shelf space.
 
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