Information management: Distributor leverages voice for multiple workflows
October 02, 2013 - MMH Editorial
Fox Head, headquartered in Irvine, Calif., is a leading-selling brand of motocross apparel across the world. After the company deployed a voice solution for picking, the benefits included an increase in accuracy from 82% to 99.99%, a 50% productivity improvement; reduced training time from one day to 1.5 hours; and a six-month return on investment. Since then, it has rolled out voice technology in other processes for even bigger gains.
“We would have been happy with the results we attained from using voice just with picking,” says Robby Dhesi, global vice president of operations, “but the value-add we have found in applying voice for many other workflows and the ability to interleave tasks has taken us to an entirely new level of workforce optimization.”
Today, Fox uses voice to support picking, replenishment, cycle-counting, slotting, receiving, and soon, packing. The system supports the demands of processing 35,000 SKUs across multiple business channels including e-commerce, international retail and wholesale.
Prior to implementing voice, cycle-counting was performed as a full-time function using handhelds every six months, with only 60% accuracy. Now, as much as 90% of the cycle-count is performed using voice, and nearly half of this is performed in-line with picking. Interleaving cycle-counting with voice picking has netted a 90% productivity improvement.
Fox also interleaves replenishment with voice. Workers put items into bins three to four times a day, because Fox has only forward pick faces for 19,000 SKUs, while it has more than 35,000 total SKUs. This dynamic slotting allows the company to shorten the travel path for picking and replenishment, boosting productivity by 20% to 25%.
Using voice in multiple areas has also improved labor management. This information provides the flexibility to transition workers from replenishment/putaway to picking. “With voice, it is easier and faster to make personnel, workload and process changes than it is with handheld devices,” says Dhesi. “We’ve been able to reduce the number of pickers from 35 to 18 and the number of dedicated cycle-counters from four to one.”
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