Voice technology improves picking south of the border

Mexican supermarket chain installs voice technology to ensure timely and accurate delivery of grocery orders.

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Tiendas Comercial Mexicana is the third-largest supermarket chain in Mexico, with stores in more than 50 cities. Founded in 1930, the company has built a strong public reputation for community support, quality stores and product selection.

Inside its four distribution centers, however, Tiendas Comcerial Mexicana was struggling with inefficient picking operations. A paper picking system in its dry goods DC and a RF scanning picking system in its perishables DC were contributing to incomplete and inaccurate orders. While picking orders, operators often fumbled with the RF device or paper, which made it difficult to follow established picking processes.

When the company established a new perishables facility in 2009, it also took a fresh look at technology for its existing DCs. The company chose a voice-directed, hands-free solution (Vocollect, vocollect.com) to help the performance of its picking operations across the board.

“The most important goal for us is to continuously improve our service levels to our 200 stores. So we needed to become as efficient as possible in throughput, velocity and product cost,” says Carlos Ramos, corporate logistics director.

The solution helps associates ensure timely, correct orders by eliminating paper and scanning devices.

The voice system also proved effective in recording the weight of items like meat and frozen products. Rather than reading and typing in the weight, workers dictate the information directly into the system. The simplified catchweight capture process has realized more than 50% in improvements over manual processes.

Workers reached full operational capacity in just two days and helped the company exceed its productivity and accuracy goals. Picking productivity is up by 25% over RF scanning in the perishables DC and by more than 50% over paper in the dry goods DC. And, order accuracy has increased from 98% in the dry goods facility to 99.6%

“The customers have definitely noticed our faster and more accurate response times to meet their needs,” says Ramos, “which has helped us grow and maintain our competitiveness during challenging economic times.”

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About the Author

Lorie King Rogers
Lorie King Rogers, associate editor, joined Modern in 2009 after working as a freelance writer for the Casebook issue and show daily at tradeshows. A graduate of Emerson College, she has also worked as an editor on Stock Car Racing Magazine.

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