Voice solution manages workflow and cleans up inefficiencies

Global supplier of professional hair care products uses a voice solution to streamline workflows and reduce labor and improve accuracy.
By Lorie King Rogers, Associate Editor
September 01, 2011 - MMH Editorial

With a number of warehouses, a professional hair care product manufacturer needed to standardize and streamline workflows across many distribution sites to increase efficiency. 

The Goldwell brand of hair care products is supplied by KPSS and is based in Linthicum Heights, Md. KPSS is one of 21 subsidiaries owned by Germany-based KPSS GmbH, a global supplier of professional hair care products, including Goldwell and other brands such as Curel, Biore and Ban.

KPSS had been working with a paper-based picking system that was manually intensive, so the core objectives in upgrading were to eliminate labor inefficiencies while reducing costs. It also needed a solution that could handle a variety of cultures and languages, as the company has warehouses in the United States, Canada, Australia, Finland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Managers determined that a voice system could be easily integrated into its case- and piece-pick operations to standardize the workflows for replenishment, picking and packing. A voice solution could also provide maximum flexibility with changing business strategies, especially with the company’s distribution partners.

KPSS refashioned operations with a voice solution (Vocollect, vocollect.com) that has made a significant difference. “We still print the paper ticket to view the size of the order for packing purposes, but then voice takes over during the picking process,” explains Brian Hatfield, KPSS vice president of supply chain for North America.

“It converts the information into voice and states instructions over a headset to the picker.”

“The system is smart,” adds Hatfield.  “When a picker signs in on their equipment, the system recognizes the worker’s unique voice patterns and understands their accents and speech idiosyncrasies.”
Flawless communications between the worker and the system have resulted in a number of improvement gains.  Picking and replenishment labor has been reduced by more than 20%, new employee training can be done in less than an hour, accuracy is up over 99%, and there have been no lost time accidents since the voice solution implementation.

In less than one year, KPSS completed its deployment in Fresno, Calif., and Toronto, and expanded deployments in the United Kingdom.  Looking into the future, Hatfield says, “The voice solution is scalable, so you can start small and take it across other functions of the warehouse.” 

Voice Technology: Getting a read on accurate picking
UK publisher uses voice technology to increase productivity and achieve a nearly perfect pick accuracy rate of 99.98%.

About the Author

Lorie King Rogers
Associate Editor

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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