Warehouse and Distribution Centers: London drugs cures its picking ills

This Canadian retailer tossed its paper-based pick systems and turned to voice to help process SKUs of varying shapes and sizes—the result is improved productivity and 99.97 percent order accuracy.
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Prior to voice picking, pickers used to have to wait for the Data Centre to print and manually split thousands of labels into the various pick sections then physically deliver the labels to pickers. Now, pickers can immediately start picking.

By Maida Napolitano, Contributing Editor
January 14, 2011 - LM Editorial

For every company adding voice to its operation for the first time, Bob Heaney, senior research analyst for research firm Aberdeen Group, reports that there are four to five companies already using voice for picking that are planning to roll it out to new areas such as replenishment and putaway.

For voice providers, there’s even better news. David Krebs, senior director specializing in mobile and wireless for VDC Research, sees the voice market performing well as we roll into 2011. Though he attributes much of this growth to “pent-up demand among existing users for upgrades and expansions,” he sees an increasing share of the market driven by opportunities in emerging and underpenetrated regional and country markets, specifically in Europe and Asia.

This expansion into other workflows and penetration into global markets is further testament of voice technology’s positive impact on warehouse operations and overall accuracy improvements. Because of its hands-and-eyes-free operation, Krebs points out that picking productivity with voice typically improves by 20 percent or more. “Order picking accuracy of well-designed and deployed voice solutions typically reaches, if not exceeds, one error per thousand picks (99.9 percent accuracy), says Krebs.”

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About the Author

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Maida Napolitano
Contributing Editor

Maida Napolitano has worked as a Senior Engineer for various consulting companies specializing in supply chain, logistics, and physical distribution since 1990. She’s is the principal author for the following publications: Using Modeling to Solve Warehousing Problems (WERC); Making the Move to Cross Docking (WERC); The Time, Space & Cost Guide to Better Warehouse Design (Distribution Group); and Pick This! A Compendium of Piece-Pick Process Alternatives (WERC). She has worked for clients in the food, health care, retail, chemical, manufacturing and cosmetics industries, primarily in the field of facility layout and planning, simulation, ergonomics, and statistic analysis. She holds BS and MS degrees in Industrial Engineering from the University of the Philippines and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, respectively. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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