Using voice and bar code scanning at Longos

A Canadian grocer combines two technologies to streamline picking processes in its fresh meat department.

<p>Longo Brothers Fruit Markets Inc.is a family owned business which was started byTommy, Joe and Gus Longo in 1956. The first store was located on Yonge Street and Castlefield, in Toronto. The first location was no more than 2,000 square feet.</p>

Longo Brothers Fruit Markets Inc.is a family owned business which was started byTommy, Joe and Gus Longo in 1956. The first store was located on Yonge Street and Castlefield, in Toronto. The first location was no more than 2,000 square feet.

Latest News

State of Logistics 2016: Pursue mutual benefit
CHEP Containers Group to open new South Bend facility
Submissions being accepted for 2016 Sustainability Excellence in Manufacturing Awards
Uber sets its sights on long-haul trucking and brokerage markets
Pro Mach acquires Pacific Packaging Machinery
More News

Latest Resource

How Lean is your Lean Quality Program?
Avoid quality program bureaucracy that can sap logistics productivity and increase costs
All Resources
By ·

Last February, Longos Brothers Fruit markets, a 53-year-old family-owned grocery chain installed a voice-directed picking solution (Lucas Systems) to improve productivity in its distribution centers in Mississauga, Ontario.

The result, says John Charleson, director of supply chain and information technology, for the 16-store chain has been a 14% increase in improved productivity—from 140 cases per hour to 164 cases per hour.

But Longos has taken the implementation of voice one step further, combining it with a wearable computer and ring-scanning technology, to capture check weights – the weight of a carton of product – in the meat department. “In the meat department, we sell product by the pound rather than by the case,” Charleson explains. “But having an order selector read the weights into the voice system would lead to errors. Instead, the bar code label on a carton of meat contains the weight. Capturing that with a bar code scan is more efficient and accurate.”

Longos took the first step of introducing voice when it implemented a new WMS system in February.

“Prior to that, we were using an older WMS with RF-enabled scanning guns,” says Charleson. “Increasing throughput in the facility was limited because our order selectors had to pick up and put down a scanning gun every time they completed a case pick. By implementing a new WMS (Qdata), we were able to add voice technology to our processes.”

In most of the facility, Longos uses its mobile computers (Motorola) as multi-function devices: In receiving, putaway, replenishment and pallet picking, the devices are used for bar code scanning; order selectors use them in voice mode to drive case picking.

In the meat area, on the other hand, it’s important to capture not just the type of product being picked, but also the weight of the product being picked, since that’s how the product is tracked and sold. For that reason, order selectors are outfitted with a wearable computer that includes a headset and a ring scanner. The selector is directed to a pick location and told how many cases to pick with voice. The ring scanner is used to scan a bar code label on a case of meat to capture the weight. Using a wearable computer means that the selector is still able to operate in a hands free/eyes free environment as with voice.

The result: “When we did the budget, we allocated 3 months before we would start to see benefits from voice and the wearable scanners,” says Charleson. “Instead, we began to seen an increase in productivity within three weeks. We were told we can get up to 20% improvements, we budgeted a 10% improvement, and three months later we’re up to 14%.”

Read my Blog: Voice Technology is speaking loud and clear


About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
How Lean is your Lean Quality Program?
Avoid quality program bureaucracy that can sap logistics productivity and increase costs
Download Today!
From the September 2016 Issue
Indecision revolving around three complex supply chain elements—transportation, technology and organizational structure—finds many companies waiting to commit to a strategic path. However, waiting too long will only result in a competitive disadvantage that will be difficult to overcome in today’s fast-paced, global economy.
Time for Asia’s ports to rebuild
Is the freight recession upon us…again?
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Supply Chain Best Practices: Visibility to In-Transit Inventory
During this webcast you'll learn on how various organizations have gained instant access to in-transit parcels and given access to this information to stakeholders.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
25th Annual Masters of Logistics
Indecision revolving around three complex supply chain elements—transportation, technology and...
2016 Quest for Quality: Winners Take the Spotlight
Which carriers, third-party logistics providers and U.S. ports have crossed the service-excellence...

Regional ports concentrate on growth and connectivity
With the Panama Canal expansion complete, ocean cargo gateways in the Caribbean are investing to...
Digital Reality Check
Just how close are we to the ideal digital supply network? Not as close as we might like to think....