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OCTOBER 2015

MANUFACTURING & LOGISTICS IT

The European magazine promoting the effective use of IT in supply chain applications

Special Technology Report: VOICE/WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS Interview: EMS PHYSIO

Do wn & lo Lo gi a st d ics

M an uf ac tu rin g th e

OCTOBER 2015

A vision built for the future Pushing back the frontiers Voice and multi-modal technology – the perfect combination Taking planning and scheduling to the next level

Ne ws

ap p

Also in this issue:

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Augmenting reality in the warehouse This edition of Manufacturing & Logistics IT features an in-depth special report on Voice-directed technology and Warehouse Management Systems. Among the comments from vendors and analysts related to a wide range of recent developments and possible future trends within this solutions space, arguably one of the most interesting and thought-provoking areas is that of augmented reality (AR) technology. Steve Wilson, vice president, practice lead – operational excellence at Capgemini, is already seeing a number of retailers in Europe having started to use augmented reality solutions for picking. In terms of the enhanced benefits, he explained that, with Voice, workers have the commands coming into their ear, but there is now software available that allows the picker to wear augmented reality glasses that include an earpiece – so it offers the benefits of Voice, but on top of that workers can see the instructions on a small screen in the eyepiece. They still have two free hands and, according to Wilson, it can allow workers potentially to pick more quickly than if they were picking with Voice or handhelds. Wilson also points out that the camera on the front of the glasses allows barcode scanning and quality checking, so it can check the accuracy of the pick while the picker is picking the items. “All the picker has to do is scan the items inside the totes to check that they have been picked correctly,” he said, adding that Capgemini is seeing take-up of this technology particularly in automotive spares companies in Germany at the moment. Wilson believes the warehousing industry is going to see a growth in augmented reality technology. “The reason for that is with the amount of pressure on cost people will be looking very aggressively at how to do things that can reduce operating costs,” he said. Andreas Finken, president of topVOX US, managing director at topVOX UK, also believes augmented reality technology in the warehouse had a bright future. He commented: “…when this technology is embraced it is clear that there is huge opportunity here and we already have live operations where these technologies are combined and delivering very real benefits to customers around the globe.” He added that only a year ago they were not really viable for full-shift operations. Vuzix Corporation, one of the leading suppliers of video eyewear and smart glasses products, recently announced that Ubimax, a leading supplier for industrial wearable computing solutions, has integrated its wearable apps xPick for pick-by-vision and

Ed Holden Editor

xAssist for remote service running on the SAP HANA Cloud Platform with direct support for Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses. With the pick-by-vision solution xPick for manual order picking, incoming, outgoing and sorting of goods, as well as inventory processes, Ubimax's customers are reportedly achieving performance improvements of up to 30 per cent in their productive environments. A number of international customers such as Daimler and DHL are already using Ubimax's wearable solutions on smart glasses including Vuzix. Augmented reality in the warehouse and distribution centre has the potential to be one of the big technology growth areas over the next year or two. I’m sure this theme will be revisited many times over the coming editions of this journal as an increasing number of AR implementation success stories begin to unfold.

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IT October 2015

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CONTENTS Manufacturing and Logistics IT October 2015

Interview

The European magazine promoting the effective use of IT in supply chain applications

5

EMS Physio

Editor: Ed Holden Contributors:

Special Technology Report

Philip Jarrett, BEC Anton du Preez, Voiteq

8

Voice/Warehouse Management Systems

Darrel Williams, Vocollect Solutions, Honeywell

Warehouse Management

Publisher: Dean Taylor

20 Designer: First Sight Graphics Ltd, www.firstsightgraphics.com

2XL says ‘yes’ to customer demands with best-of-breed WMS ‘IBS Dynaman’ The Cotswold Company polishes its warehouse operation with the help of Snapfulfil Vanderlande: A vision built for the future

Production: Carolyn Pither

Ergonomic Solutions launches SpacePole Essentials for the Warehouse & Distribution sector Circulation: Carole Chiesa

Voice

IT Manager: Ian Curtis

28 Accounts: Sarah Schofield

topVOX Lydia runs swimmingly at J&K Aquatics BEC: Pushing back the frontiers

Published by: B2B Publishing Ltd PO Box 3575, Barnet, Herts, EN5 9QD UK

BCP: Creed Foodservice boosts performance with Accord Voice WMS Zebra Technologies: Voice and multi-modal technology – the perfect combination

Tel: +44 (0) 1707 664200 Email (publishing): info@logisticsit.com Email (editorial): editor@ibcpub.com

Voiteq: Planning and executing for omnichannel success Vocollect Solutions, Honeywell: Achieving greater productivity and higher morale

Printed by: The Magazine Printing Company plc, www.magprint.co.uk No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publishers. No liability is accepted for any action arising from the contents of this publication; readers are advised to check any manufacturer’s or supplier’s claim for products. The publishers do not endorse opinions expressed in any article by an outside contributor. While every care is taken over photographs and illustrations, which are returned when requested, no liability can be assumed by the publishers for the loss of such materials.

ISSN:1463-1172

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IT

Planning

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October 2015

Simatic IT Preactor: Taking planning and scheduling to the next level

Supply Chain

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in the warehouse

DynaSys: Planning has become the cornerstone at G.H. Mumm


EMS Physio

Interview

The right treatment Manufacturing & Logistics IT spoke with James Greenham, managing director of EMS Physio, about how its IT estate helps to ensure the company’s sales, manufacture and support regime runs as efficiently and reliably as possible.

MS Physio is family-owned business that manufactures electronic physiotherapy equipment. Established some 91 years ago, the company’s 17,000 ft.² headquarters and manufacturing facility is in Wantage in Oxfordshire, where it employs 28 full-time members of office, factory and warehouse personnel as well as temporary staff. As well as enjoying a successful home market, EMS Physio exports approximately 70 per cent of its products around the world. “In essence, we are a typical small to mediumsized manufacturing business with everything under one roof,” said James Greenham, EMS Physio’s managing director.

E CRM

From an IT perspective, the company’s full range of administrative, financial, human resources, manufacturing and field service activities are fully catered for. Over the past few years, the company has run two separate CRM (Customer Relationship Management) databases with the same customer information; one for the Service team and the other for Sales & Marketing. However, as Greenham explained, the past couple of months have seen the company migrate both databases from Act into Clik. “The rationale behind both teams operating from the same CRM database is they can access customer information from the same core piece of data,” said Greenham. “Because the migration has only very recently taken place there will naturally be a short period of data cleansing and de-duping for the next month or so. However, this will be very minor as both historic databases have always held

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essentially the same information. Nevertheless, this latest move will be more of a guarantee of uniform data across both departments. Staff can now more easily segment, prioritise, target and identify different customer groups by categories such as geography, product order and customer profile etc.”

Online shop EMS Physio also operates an online shop. The main website comprises a Wordpress ecommerce package, together with a Wordpress plug-in called WooCommerce. This manages the company’s product listing, pricing, sales coupons and offer codes etc. “Two or three years ago I thought very few people would order our products on the Internet,” said Greenham. “These products retail for around £1000 including VAT and for something in this price range customers have historically preferred to have a sales person visit them and give a demonstration in the traditional way. However, we are definitely seeing a gradual move towards people buying equipment directly from the website. This mode of sale is still easily managed by us in the sense that the volumes are not high when compared with lower-cost products, or the type of output one might expect from a tier 1-size company.”

James Greenham: “…being able to respond globally to constant demand from customers and business partners with our relatively small team is critical.” from Canada we simply redirect them to our Canadian dealer. We can manage this arrangement very well based on our own knowledge of the market and type of the sales volumes we have come to expect.”

Manufacturing Another major sales advantage for the company is its global network of distributors. “We have about 35 dealers around the world,” explained Greenham. “Many of them are exclusive to us, so, for example, our dealer in Canada works solely for us in that territory. If customers visit the website to buy equipment

On the manufacturing side, EMS Physio’s MRP system of choice is Uniplan, developed by Pinnula based in Sheffield. “It’s a package that is bespoke for our particular requirements, although the basic solution is ‘off the shelf’,” said Greenham. “Uniplan

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EMS Physio

installed the system for us a number of years ago and it has proved to be a reliable and efficient IT resource for us.” The Uniplan system encompasses both the business and operational side of the business. On the business side it helps EMS Physio to manage customer invoicing, accounts, sales and purchase ledgers and salary payments. It is also involved with goods dispatch. On the manufacturing side the company can schedule and pre-plan works orders, and control stock levels in terms of what needs to be replenished and what volume of components needs to be stored in line with anticipated customer demand. EMS Physio also manages goods dispatch through Uniplan. Greenham pointed out that the Uniplan MPR system is used by most people within the business at some stage or other; whether in terms of front-end customer invoicing or planning or scheduling works orders by

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components of equipment from EMS Physio’s own suppliers. When customers place an order through the website they pay online. EMS Physio then takes that order and inputs it separately into its MRP system to process the sales order. The MRP system is not directly linked directly to the company’s online shop. “Of course, we can also take orders over the phone, by post or by email – whichever method is used we then feed this information to Uniplan in order to fulfil the order and dispatch the goods to the customer,” said Greenham. Pinnula sends regular upgrades by email or remotely updates the system. “Pinnula has a business-day working help line and as and when required its staff can make modifications to the system make improvements – for example, if there is any general operation issues or if the functionality needs to be adjusted,” explained Greenham. “We simply ring up the helpline and the issue is resolved within a very short timeframe.”

As well as quickly resolving all MRP issues remotely, Pinnula also comes on-site to conduct annual training sessions. “One of our main IT challenges is when we take on new staff, because many of them are likely not to have used Uniplan before,” said Greenham. “Therefore, we need to make sure they are adequately trained on the system. However, because the system is quite intuitive this process usually doesn’t take long and staff are actively using the system as effectively as their longer-serving colleagues after the training has taken place.” Like many other businesses in all sectors, EMS Physio uses Microsoft Office Excel, Outlook and Word. “These applications are all fully integrated with the MRP system, allowing staff to regularly update information into Uniplan and to migrate data from Uniplan to Word or Excel,” explained Greenham. “Some of our newer members of staff are more able to use an ODBC link whereby we can specify the data fields from Uniplan. These are then

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EMS Physio

migrated to, for example, an Excel spreadsheet.”

Interview

high quality photo copier, printer, fax and scanning machine – an Ineo 224e. The return on investment in print savings alone has justified the outlay.”

Field service EMS Physio has two full-time salespeople and four service engineers out on the road. Greenham explained that they are all equipped with HTC1 smartphones, which are used for emailing and to access back-office CRM or MRP data in the field. “These mobile devices have proved highly effective for accessing customer data remotely,” he said. “As long as our sales and service personnel can get online through a local Wi-Fi hub they can access our server. They are now also required to remotely update the customer database we have within the Clik CRM system. For example, after visiting a customer at a clinic in, say, Bicester, they will update the system; recording details of the visit such as what equipment the customer currently uses and how they plan to manage that customer moving forward in terms of repair or replacement of the equipment.” In terms of accessing data in Uniplan, Greenham explained the software links through an ODBC link with Excel to help field service personnel manage and understand that data. “We have had a couple of instances where staff have wanted to bring in their own laptop and use it for their daily business tasks,” added Greenham. “However, I’m not entirely happy with that scenario because of the data control element. We have to know that the data they are managing is all part of our single source of up-to-date information, as well as be confident that the devices are as secure as possible.”

Printing technology In terms of printing technology, three years ago EMS Physio had several individual desktop printers situated throughout the factory and offices linked to people’s individual computers. “This meant we spent a small fortune on printer ink each year,” remembered Greenham. “However, we have now linked all the computers to one central

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Cloud Computing EMS Physio also looks to leverage the advantages of the Cloud. “Our CRM server was rebuilt about six months ago, and this is now backed up daily in the Cloud,” Greenham pointed out. “The CRM system is managed in the Cloud so everybody within the office or out in the field has access to it through the Internet. When you run a business every minute counts of course so when you are reliant to some extent on Cloud-based applications the weak link could be the broadband speed. Fortunately for us, BT recently upgraded our business park to fibre broadband. As soon as this was installed we really started to appreciate the value of the Cloud.”

Game-changer Greenham reflected that current IT technology has positively changed the way EMS Physio operates as a business. “From a front-end point of view we export globally to customers in Europe, Asia, Australia, Canada, Africa and the Middle East who contact us 24 hours a day usually by email. The challenge for our business is to be able to respond those emails within 24 hours because most people now use smart devices and expect a very swift response to their emails etc. So, being able to respond globally to constant demand from customers and business partners with our relatively small team is critical. We have been in business for a long time and, as you would expect, we have members of staff who remember relying on Telex and fax machines. It doesn’t seem so long ago that a fax machine was the quickest means of sending a written message around the world. Nowadays we can all do this on our mobile phone or on Twitter. So the speed with which you have to respond has increased significantly in line with the technological advances we have seen in recent times.”

As well as enjoying a successful home market, EMS Physio exports approximately 70 per cent of its products around the world.

The value of face-to-face contact However, despite the benefits and expectations that come with modern mobile technology, Greenham still recognises the value of meeting people face to face in order to forge stronger business relationships. “Meeting dealers face-to-face, often at some of the big global medical exhibitions, makes things so much easier when you then communicate with them via electronic technology. Non-remote human interaction can definitely make a difference.”

Moving forward Are there any plans for additional IT enhancements within the business? “The next logical IT step for us is to link the front-end customer ordering experience with our backend manufacturing operations,” said Greenham. “So, over the next two to three years we plan to merge these so that orders that are placed online can be fed directly to the factory floor.” Greenham concluded: “Over the past few years, we’ve seen some major technological changes, and most of these have been very positive for our business. However, I believe first and foremost it is important to remember that you are dealing with people with their own specific requirements. Therefore, we see technology primarily as the facilitator that makes it easier for us to communicate with those people and to serve them in the best and most efficient way possible.” n

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Special Report

Voice/Warehouse Management Systems

Voice of reason in the warehouse Manufacturing & Logistics IT spoke to a number of key spokespeople from the vendor and analyst communities about recent developments in the world of Voice-directed software and hardware and warehouse management systems – including those involving mobility, Cloud/SaaS and Big Data.

ome of the most dynamic and

Heaney explained that there are other advanced

called Workforce Management which connects

fast-changing technology areas

techniques – within the picking process, for

to its WMS, and Manhattan has one called

have to be the ones deployed in

instance – that also demand more interactive

Labour Management, which also connects to its

warehouse and distribution centre

communication with the actual worker. “For

WMS. These tools are very good at capturing the

operations – helping companies

example, there is something we refer to as

transactional data off of the WMS and allowing it

to better serve increasingly demanding

cluster picking, whereby workers can pick to a

to be analysed and validated against

consumer expectations while also aiming to

batch cart or pick to light system,” he said. “It’s

productivity standards in quite some detail down

improve business profitability. So, what are

not discrete order picking necessarily; it’s about

to individuals and groups. That allows many

some of the key discussion points in terms of

picking multiple carts. Therefore there’s a little bit

clients to manage productivity at a different level

current and ongoing innovations and

more interaction as workers pick an item, scan it,

to the way they’ve managed it in the past.”

developments within this space? Bob Heaney,

use the Voice mechanism to indicate the pick

research director, principal analyst – retail &

has been completed, and as they move through

The second main trend Wilson is seeing involves

consumer markets at Aberdeen Group,

the instructions the next ones queue up on their

the integration of store replenishment and e-

observes that omni-channel is a major current

device or they receive a verbal instruction on

commerce into a single operation. He explained:

trend. “The web is now much more prevalent

their Voice system to proceed to the next. So by

“The purpose of this is primarily to drive a single

as an ordering mechanism,” he said. “If a

having a way of communicating in near real-time

stock pool; i.e. one location that contains all of

customer places an order through an e-

with workers you are able now to address some

the inventory in a logical way so that if it’s

commerce site typically there is now often a

of the more event-driven needs.”

needed for e-commerce it can be sent to e-

S

commerce customers, or if it’s needed for the

one- to two-day delivery expectation. So, if I have work that is flowing out into my distribution

Steve Wilson, vice president, practice lead –

replenishment to store it can be used for

centre that has been batched up prior to these

operational excellence at Capgemini, considers

replenishment to store. In the more traditional

orders coming through I’ve now got to

that one key talking point is driving rugged

model e-commerce stock tends to be separated

determine where I’m going to insert those extra

proactivity from WMS controlled operations.

logically from retail stock and therefore either you

orders into the flow throughout the day.”

“That’s really coming about because of price

could end up with

stagnation or price deflation in retail, which is

lower availability or

Heaney continued: “Typically, any company

putting pressure on cost,” he said. “And now

with more

handling a reasonably high volume of products

with the living wage there’s an increased level of

stockholding to cover

is already going to be using some form of

pressure being put on the cost base, which has

the availability. Neither

picking waves and replenishment waves where

meant that there’s a renewed focus on how to

of these scenarios are

the day is broken up into, say, two-hour

get that cost back under control.”

particularly good business outcomes.”

sections of work. When one wave completes the next one queues up etc. With RF and Voice

Wilson explained there are now tools available

you have the capability to in some cases insert

that allow productivity management at an

What it now taking

new orders directly into the current pick waves,

individual level. “These tools are integrated with

place, according to

depending on where the worker is. We call this

the key warehouse management systems,” he

Wilson, is that some

task interleaving.”

said. “For example JDA RedPrairie has a tool

retailers use WMS to

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Andy Briggs, technical director,

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Voice/Warehouse Management Systems

Gavin Clark, commercial director,

Special Report

pick both e-

systems and Voice recognition solutions. “Even

commerce and store

in highly automated warehouses, the warehouse

replenishment at the

worker is frequently called on to move objects,

In terms of other key developments, du Preez

same time and from

large or small,” he said. “In more manual

points out that quality ‘screen to Voice’ solutions

the same location and

warehouses, the typical warehouse worker often

– which take the text prompts displayed on

same stock pool. “This

wears heavy gloves and moves heavy boxes.

handheld terminal screens to be translated into

gives them better

For that same person to then turn to a computer,

Voice and which then enter the user’s spoken

availability at lower

even a rugged handheld device, requires the

responses back into the screen – have enabled

overall levels of

worker to stop the work they were doing, focus

companies with legacy systems or limited IT

inventory,” he said,

on the device, and enter or scan data into the

resource to implement Voice into a range of

“and because of the

warehouse management system. The appeal of

warehouse processes. du Preez also comments

huge growth in Click

Voice recognition systems is that they free the

that new commercial models – including

& Collect that’s

worker’s hands and arms. If the worker can

Subscription and Software as a Service (SaaS) –

become more and

savings,” he remarked.

communicate to the warehouse management

are becoming popular with companies that have

more important because a lot of Click & Collect

system through speaking the hands of the

Capex constraints but want to get the benefits of

parcels are picked in the warehouse and then

warehouse person can continue to conduct the

Voice today.

they are put onto the same replenishment

warehouse work without the interruption of typing

vehicle that is going to the stores because it’s

or scanning information into a computer.”

In addition, du Preez explains that retail and FMCG companies – driven by omni-channel,

much more cost-effective than putting them on the carrier. Consequently, it makes sense to try

Bart Riviere, business development director for

convenience retail and changing retailer order

to pick them in the same warehouses where

speech solutions at Zebra Technologies, points

profiles – are having to manage more case and

they’ve picked the store replenishment work.”

out that Zebra has seen an increase in multi-

piece picking to even tighter deadlines.

modal Voice picking – both hardware and The third key trend Wilson is seeing is where a

software elements. “Devices with easier-to-read

number of retailers in Europe have started to use

screens and more intuitive interfaces using the

Business intelligence

augmented reality technology for picking. He

latest operating systems will also make it easier

Business intelligence and predictive analytics

explained: “With Voice, workers have the

to support multi-modal devices and provide

(now often revered to as Big Data) are also

commands coming into their ear, but there is

greater rewards,” he commented. Riviere added

attracting a lot of interest from Voiteq customers,

now software available that allows the picker to

that Zebra has a large portfolio of Android

explains du Preez. “They want clear, actionable

wear augmented reality glasses that include an

devices such as Android versions of the MC92,

visibility of their operations and want their

earpiece – so it offers the benefits of Voice, but

MC32 and the all touch TC75. “Going forward,

systems to predict and manage issues before

on top of that workers can see the instructions on

we will see more capabilities for supporting

they occur,” he said. “Our Voice solutions have

a small screen in the eyepiece. They still have

Android in the warehouse and linking to Voice

always captured low-level process data and

two free hands and it allows workers potentially

picking from Zebra,” he said.

we’re now using this data to provide higher-level visibility and control of the operation.”

to pick more quickly than if they were picking with Voice or handhelds.

Riviere also sees a growing interest for nonproprietary solutions that can be opened up and

Vision-based systems are being talked about

Also, explained Wilson, a camera on the front of

more easily managed. Additionally, he sees a

and are something that Voiteq has trialled with

the glasses allows barcode scanning and quality

key user need in having Voice solutions that

customers. However, du Preez considers that

checking – so it can check the accuracy of the

require zero training. “This is especially important

they have a number of challenges still to

pick while the picker is picking it. “All the picker

for seasonal workers but also for reducing re-

overcome before they will be viable alternatives

has to do is scan the items inside the totes to

training requirements for all workers,” he

to current, proven technologies.

check that they have been picked correctly,” he

explained, adding that a key enabler in this

said. “We are seeing take-up of this technology

regard is the growing capabilities of speaker

Andy Briggs, technical director for BEC,

particularly in automotive spares companies in

independent systems.

considers that one of the main current key discussion points is the spread of Voice

Germany at the moment. Providers currently offering this technology include Ubimax and

Anton du Preez, group sales director for Voiteq,

applications, i.e. not just for picking but for doing

Vuzix.”

is seeing an increase in the use of Voice beyond

every task within the warehouse using Voice to

picking. This, he says, is something that has

get the best out of a company’s technological

been talked about for a number of years, but the

investment and the solution as a whole. “Door-to-

Happy marriage

rate of uptake has accelerated. “This is being

door Voice applications – as well as picking –

Ed Spotts, senior ERP consultant for Panorama,

driven by the maturity and breadth of product

can include dispatch, stock counting, quality

considers that if ever a need existed to marry

integration and pressure on warehouses to use

transactions, stock rotation and stock control, i.e.

two technologies, it is warehouse management

their existing assets to drive additional cost

any movement or transaction which can be done

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Voice/Warehouse Management Systems

should be done with Voice as it has so many

as many of these growing operations as

comments that because the WMS market in

advantages,” he explained.

possible; many of whom need help to manage

general has evolved well into the maturation

and control their costs and also to improve

cycle, the key topics in IBS’s discussions with

Andreas Finken, president of topVOX US,

efficiency and accuracy in order to grow into

customers haven’t changed substantially over

managing director topVOX UK, reflects that there

major companies. “We have a few of these types

the past 10 years or so – but the focus on the

are always new developments in WMS and

of operations where growth has been

details behind the questions has. He added: “For

Voice. He commented: “And because of the way

phenomenal and we are very proud to have

example, customers have long recognised the

technology is moving forward it is important for

been a part of that growth,” he said.

need for real-time visibility into operations within

us as a Voice solutions provider to be very

their fulfilment facilities (and indeed no WMS

adaptable to these changes in a way that will

Finken also points out that there has been a lot of

solutions provider can exist nowadays without

maintain performance of the Voice system itself

development regarding augmented reality

this functionality). However, more recently the

and also to add real benefit to the end user.”

technology, such as smart glasses. “This is an

discussions have focused on the format of

Finken added that with the ever increasing

area where there is huge growth potential and

retained information, faster and easier retrieval of

speeds and reliability of high-speed Internet

can be seen as a potential threat to Voice

this information, and intuitive UI (user interface)

worldwide, the increasing interest in SaaS/Cloud,

solutions,” he said. “However, when this is

design approaches. All of these drive not only

topVOX continues to provide and enhance its

embraced it is clear that there is huge

end user productivity but also are imperative with

Voice as a Service offerings in line with these

opportunity here and we already have live

the new government regulations being placed on

trends; something it has continued to do for a

operations where these technologies are

businesses.”

number of years.

combined and delivering very real benefits to customers around the globe, which only a year

Gavin Clark, commercial director at Snapfulfil,

Additionally, with the movement to lower-cost

ago were not really viable for full-shift

observes that Software as a Service (SaaS)

highly flexible mobile OS such as android and

operations.”

continues to gain traction, not only with the

iOS, Finken believes it is essential for both WMS

company’s traditional SMB customer base who

and Voice providers to not only move with this

Darrel Williams, region director, Northern Europe,

are embracing the Cloud as a competitive

technology but also to allow customers flexibility

Vocollect Solutions, Honeywell, considers that

differentiator, but also among Enterprise

in transition between platforms. “So for topVOX it

Voice is now firmly established and recognised

companies who have fixed IT budgets and are

has been a key priority to move with these

as the optimum work interface for delivering

adopting SaaS solutions to help subsidiaries

developments, and not just to enable our

productivity and accuracy benefits in the

accelerate speed to value.

technology to work on these platforms but also to

warehouse. The most interesting change he sees

allow customers the flexibility to be able to

today over previous years is the

transition between them at a pace that suits their

acknowledgement of this fact by WMS and ERP

needs rather than an overnight transition.” This,

vendors who have adopted Voice as a value-

Real-time management information

he explains, is why topVOX has developed its

added mechanism to their offerings.

What has driven these developments? Martin

Lydia speech solution to work on all of these

“Understanding that a seamless delivery of all

Eppert, product manager for Vanderlande,

platforms while also being able to mix and match

types of instructions to the worker is paramount

believes one key driver is the requirement for

them in the same operation so that they do not

to achieving today’s warehouse challenges has

real-time management information. “Presenting

have to change their hardware overnight but

led the WMS community to offer Voice-ready

the right information to warehouse managers in

rather be able to pace their investment.

systems in much the same way that barcodes

an appropriate way, whenever they would like to

were adopted over 20 years ago,” he said.

see it, is still a hot topic in WMS development,” he said, adding that this will increase visibility

Finken adds that there is huge growth in the Williams believes the trend and differentiation is

over warehouse processes. Eppert also

which have grown

now more about the scope of the Voice offering

considers that dashboards are becoming more

from small one-person

rather than the availability. This, he maintains, is

prevalent, combining WMS and process

operations starting a

driven into even sharper focus with the need for

information from the system; for example the

business in the

business agility driven by surge in omni-channel

lower control levels due to automation. This, he

person’s house,

and click and collect type operations. “Late

explains, enables supervisors to make the most

growing into the

ordering for next-day delivery, for example, relies

of available resources and reduce costs within

garage then into a

heavily on timely execution of work instructions –

the entire logistical process.

small business unit

doing job right first time in good time to meet

with a small number of

demand and greater visibility of order progress,

Another key driver for change, according to

staff. Finken explains

whether click and collect, timed or next day

Eppert, is the continuous growth of ecommerce.

that a key area of

deliveries,” he said.

He commented: “The e-commerce market

number of e-commerce operations, many of

Anton du Preez, group sales director,

continues to influence WMS developments.

focus for topVOX is to work and engage with 10

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Bill Tomasi, VP product management at IBS,

Orders are becoming smaller while lead-times

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Voice/Warehouse Management Systems

Special Report

are getting shorter. In addition, same-day

allowing for shelves to be replenished quickly,

provided it has been

deliveries are on the rise. The number of SKUs in

while reducing ‘out of stock’ notifications to

thoughtfully designed

a warehouse is also growing. Distribution centres

customers. This requires distribution centres to

into the solution.”

need to be able to support multi-channel

reassess their processes and look for ways of

Clark reflects that, in

processes, which increases the overall

optimising their supply chain. Important

the past, companies

operational complexity. WMS has to support

decisions need to be made relating to the entire

wanting to streamline

these developments with suitable planning and

logistical process. For example, in altering the

their warehousing

scheduling functionalities to maintain warehouse

stacking pattern of a delivery pallet to match the

operations had two

efficiency. Consumers expect to be informed in

unpacking sequence of a certain store, the

choices: a low-cost

more detail – and at short notice – about the

individual layout of the shop must be taken into

solution – often their

delivery status of their order. Therefore, the WMS

account within the WMS.”

ERP’s WMS – at the

of the future has to support increasing track and trace demands.”

Andreas Finken, president of topVOX US, managing director UK,

expense of the As a result of the factors he cited above, Eppert

sophisticated

maintains there is a trend towards the automation

functionality required

Eppert believes the increasing demand for

of more warehouse processes. “This will not only

to support a truly

ergonomic working environments is also a

reduce running costs, but also increase process

efficient warehousing operation, or an on-premise

pertinent subject. “This can be achieved through

quality and facilitate short order throughput

Tier 1 WMS with far greater ‘fit for purpose’ but

a combination of user-friendly interfaces and

times,” he said. “A state-of-the-art WMS has to

with a lengthy implementation process and

optimised workstations,” he said. “Enhanced

support this in a very efficient way.”

enormous price tag to match. Clark believes

working conditions have a positive impact on

Cloud computing and SaaS models are bridging

both the motivation of operators and their

Chris Pass, consultant for BCP, believes some of

this gap, providing an affordable way for

performance while reducing absenteeism due to

the key drivers are transparency and rigorous

companies to benefit from a best-in-breed WMS.

sickness. An ergonomic and user-friendly

fulfilment procedures to accommodate the

interface also requires shorter learning curves for

demands of the multi/omni-channel market. He

Williams believes ecommerce, changing buying

employees, which is especially important in

commented: “The warehouse management

profiles and online availability mean that the

dynamic workforce environments.”

system must be able to handle orders of all sizes

warehouse is increasingly under pressure to

– from single items to more substantial orders –

perform in new and varied ways. “Often we find

In Eppert’s view, the experience for customers is

from a myriad of different sources, alongside a

that a warehouse or warehouse worker is now

also crucial. “Online reviews and easy ordering

much wider choice of delivery options – plus the

the last (or only) touch point before the consumer

procedures mean there are many factors to

flexibility to mix and match those options in

and is almost totally responsible for brand image

consider in ensuring consumer satisfaction,” he

whatever combination the customer demands.

and customer satisfaction,” he said. “Get an

said. “To facilitate this, same-day deliveries, at

Key to success is business-wide transparency –

order wrong and both of these are affected with

the lowest cost, with zero errors in order

stock availability, stock location, delivery data

the potential to lose a customer forever.”

fulfilment are essential. Also store-friendly

and the whole spectrum of orders that are being

deliveries can help turn this trend into a solution,

placed – through all channels – and using that

Riviere considers that increased pressure on

information, alongside accurate forecasting,

warehouse and logistics in general has been

sophisticated pricing matrices and rigorous

driven by ecommerce, and the evolving supply

fulfilment operations to deliver a seamless omni-

chain means warehouses need to cope with

channel experience for customers at a cost

increasing demands; including more SKUs,

which is economical for the business. That’s

greater returns and stock visibility. “This has

where truly integrated systems come in.”

meant that warehouses and DCs need to continue to evolve to increase accuracy and

Pass also observes that the new Alcohol

efficiency,” he said. As a result, Riviere pointed

Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS) is

out that Zebra customers have very much driven

shining a new light on Bonded warehousing as

these changes to meet these underlying needs:

alcohol wholesalers of all sizes have to check compliancy with regulations. He said: “This process does seem to be raising awareness of

• Non-proprietary hardware to increase flexibility.

the cash flow and administration benefits that can flow from setting up a Bonded facility;

www.logisticsit.com

• Speaker independent systems to reduce

benefits which are magnified if they are also

training requirements and also grow the

involved in exporting activities. Voice technology

capabilities of these systems, which, claims

is an ideal tool for running a Bonded warehouse,

Riviere, are now outperforming speaker-

with its unmatched traceability capabilities –

dependent ones.

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Voice/Warehouse Management Systems

According to du Preez, key drivers for change

to the leading ERP systems. “That makes the

include the omni-channel; the growth of

whole process easier, however this is not

convenience retail and lean retailer initiatives

something that is in my view plug and play at this

have resulted in warehouses having to handle

point,” he said. “This is because an ERP

smaller orders and make more frequent

normally is a configured solution, so the specific

deliveries. “This, in turn, has increased the need

way a company has set up its ERP solution can

for handling cases and eaches, which is where

have an impact on how the interfacing works.

Voice excels at providing an accurate and

That’s why there has always been a degree of

efficient process,” he said.

tailoring required to make the interfaces work. Nevertheless, it is now a much easier process than it used to be because a lot of the integration

Integration

is more standardised – it’s now more a case of

Have ways of best integrating WMS and/or

tailoring rather than building from scratch.”

Voice-directed systems with other systems developed to any notable extent over the past

Eppert has observed a strong trend towards

year or two? Finken believes this question

adopting responsive, near real-time interfaces

depends on the customer organisations and

such as web services, over the more

what they want. He commented: “If they want to

conventional and less reactive batch-oriented

have a system that can add functionality then a

communication methods. “This allows for closer

database and middleware can do this. If they

process integration; for example, being able to

other capabilities the price point wasn’t right,” he

want a direct real-time connection to their host

automatically print and add a delivery note – or

remembered. “Also, Voice could be more

system then there are many ways that this can

invoice – and shipping label reflecting the latest

disruptive to the ebb and flow of the primary

happen depending on their host system. A

pick results and parcel weights,” he explained.

WMS system and not very easy to interface, and the devices themselves tended to be more

database, telegram, html or .NET type of communication can do this. If they want total

Eppert added that customers are becoming

proprietary. Today, with the advent of the

freedom to develop their own system changes

more aware of the value of their software

smartphones and newer ways of engaging with

then training them to do this and providing a

solutions and, moreover, the risks involved if they

the worker, Voice systems are much more

development kit and support would be

do not work as expected. “Therefore, integration

integrated and most can plug and play with any

appropriate.”

tests of a new system within the customer’s

device you might already have. It is now easier

existing IT network have become more

to justify and to leverage Voice across your entire

Riviere considers that integration of Voice and

important,” he said. “To test whether integration

enterprise.”

WMS is quite stable today. “However, Zebra

will be effective before the software goes live a

has added more support for faster and easier

special test environment is established. This

According to Tomasi, the current trend in inter-

integration over the past few years,” he

includes remote connections that mimic the

solution communications is to generate open

pointed out.

dynamic behaviour of the existing material

and transparent communication layers. “This

handling system. More customers are

trend results in easier, faster, and less expensive

Andy Briggs points out that BEC has various

participating in this test phase, which gives them

integration as more and more companies adopt

integrations into all the major ERPs (SAP, Oracle,

an excellent opportunity to receive training on

technological standards and publish their

Infor, Dynamix, IFS & many others). “There is no

their new system and prepare for a smooth

interface requirements,” he remarked.

need for bespoke

commissioning phase.” Spotts considers that in some ways integrating

development to add Voice to a business’s

Eppert also makes the point that the world of

the Voice-directed system with the WMS is

ERP system – we

logistics still requires a flexible and adaptive

straightforward. “Because of the real-time nature

have proven

software solution that integrates smoothly into a

of Voice-directed systems, using middleware

technology

customer’s existing IT systems. “Choosing an

may not be effective – a direct integration may

connectors,” he said.

application with a set of predefined, best

be the best choice,” he remarked. The good

practice integration scenarios, omits risks and

news, according to Spotts, is that if a direct

reduces costs in WMS projects,” he said.

interface is written between the WMS and the

Wilson thinks things Bob Heaney, research director, principal analyst – retail & consumer markets,

12

IT

increasingly

Heaney makes the point that the price-point for

of data exchanged will likely be very predictable

standardised in the

Voice is now lower and integration within WMS

and limited in scope. “That is because the

sense that most of the

has become simpler over the past few years. “I

transactions conducted by the Voice-directed

packages now have

am and industrial engineer by training and in the

system must be limited in order to maintain its

standard connectors

days when I was looking at Voice versus RF and

accuracy and speed,” he said.

MANUFACTURING

&LOGISTICS

Voice-directed system, the quantity and variety

have become

October 2015

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Special Report

Pass argues that integrating Voice into WMS

versions now have access to high quality

that they can select

continues to be more challenging than is often

screen-to-Voice solutions to voice-enable any

and hold to high

represented by middleware providers “who

of their screen-based processes,” he said.

service levels.”

simply aim to bolt Voice hardware onto an

“There is still strong demand for Voice

existing WMS”. In Pass’s view, a totally

warehouse execution systems that enhance

Eppert has seen few

integrated Voice WMS still, in general, offers

the lower level operational processes of

notable requests for

more functionality while being more robust and

traditional WMS systems. For example,

a SaaS model so far.

less risky. “It’s important to appreciate that Voice

Voiteq’s VoiceMan warehouse execution

“In the context of

is now a mature technology with customers

system enabled Kellogg’s to realise a 40 per

automation projects,

much more aware of the potential benefits it can

cent productivity improvement by better

WMS is seen as an

deliver and the need to integrate it fully and

managing workload and pallet building using

additional investment

sensitively to other business systems if those

Voice.”

to the traditionally

Chris Pass, consultant,

more expensive

benefits are to be realised,” he said. “This applies equally, whether it be a Warehouse

According to du Preez, there is also growing

equipment,” he said. Eppert has observed little

Execution System to Voice empowering an

interest from SAP customers for Voice solutions

interest in a ‘public Cloud’ approach; however,

existing WMS or a full Voice WMS interfacing to

that connect directly to SAP and a number of

he has witnessed a greater focus on ‘private

other business systems.” The key, says Pass, is

these solutions have gone live in the past 12

Cloud’ solutions within small- to mid-size

to choose a supplier with a proven pedigree of

months in the UK and Europe – particularly as

systems warehouses. He commented: “The

implementing Voice and a full understanding of

the adoption of SAP’s Extended Warehouse

benefits of Cloud-based approaches are well-

what is involved so that Voice can be made to

Management (EWM) grows.

known: IT setup and maintenance costs are reduced and the scalable nature of the solution

‘work for you’.

allows customers to respond quickly to According to Clark, the main challenges when

SaaS and Cloud

changing market needs, without compromising

integrating with existing business systems

Has the Software as a Service (SaaS)/Cloud

response times.”

usually rest with the ERP systems, as they are

model had any notable level of impact on the

often older versions and not configured for

WMS and/or Voice-directed software solutions

connecting to external systems. He commented:

market so far? du Preez comments that it is

Going smaller

“The advances the vendors of these systems

first worth distinguishing how a Voice solution

Spotts reflects that publications often focus on

have invested in have really made the difference,

is hosted and provided (which could be in the

gigantic organisations with massive warehouses

allowing the use of real time web services, APIs

Cloud) from the commercial model for

and large information technology staffs. “In

and other real-time transport methods. Obviously

acquiring it (which could be pay-per-user-per-

today’s environment, there is a growing number

the providers of WMS and Voice systems have

month). He commented: “New commercial

of small boutique and specialty retailers who

had to ensure they can accommodate as many

models such as Subscription and SaaS were

manufacture and warehouse their products,” he

options as possible, providing flexible methods

accelerated in the economic downturn when

said. “These organisations do not have the

for each new client system.”

capital was hard to come by. Interestingly, the

resources to maintain an ERP or warehouse

appetite for these has not diminished now that

management system. For a growing number of

the economy is stronger.”

such small- and even medium-sized businesses

Williams believes that, undoubtedly, more

a Cloud-based solution can be desirable.”

business systems have wider ranging integration to Voice systems than ever before. He adds that

du Preez explains that Voiteq offers all three

Honeywell Vocollect solutions integrates with

hosting models: Cloud, data centre and on-

Spotts added that people often associate SaaS

over 200 business systems, often with several at

premise. “Primarily due to the mission-critical

with Cloud-based technology. “While SaaS

the same time, with the emphasis on seamless

nature of Voice systems, most of our customers

computing is almost certainly Cloud-based,

integration to deliver the best performance

opt for high-availability deployments under their

there are other Cloud-based models available,”

possible. “However, with the ever-changing

control in data centres or at their warehouse

he pointed out. “SaaS implies that the business

demands from the market there still remains the

sites,” he said. “Examples of internet services

does not own the software, and even more

need for functionally-rich applications or

being unavailable, such as the recent Skype

concerning, it may be unclear as to who owns

middleware that is truly attuned to the business

outage, are often quoted by companies when we

the data. With Cloud-based systems, the

in hand,” he said.

speak to them about a pure Cloud service. The

business owns the software and its data, and

cost and impact on customer service of a

merely pays the hosting organisation to

du Preez makes the point that, today, there is

picking system being unavailable for a few hours

operate its system. Such solutions have proven

a wider range of Voice integration options

is not something they’re willing to risk. That being

to be very cost-effective and relieve the need

than ever before. “The larger WMS vendors

said, some of our larger customers have opted

for an organisation to have the deep skillsets

have more deeply embedded Voice into their

for Cloud-like solutions (centrally hosted with a

necessary to support an ERP or warehouse

latest versions and companies with older

browser user interface) in resilient data centres

management system.”

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Planning/Forecasting/S&OP

For real-time systems, such as Voice recognition, and any kind of automated warehouse cranes and material movement systems, Spotts maintains that the controls continue to need to be local for reliability and speed. “Even the direct supervisory systems should be local to assure a reliable, fast connection, but middle tier and ERP level software is being moved to the Cloud more and more frequently,” he said. Heaney explains that many multimodal units have the Voice engines and the software kernels that drive most of the heavy activity on the devices themselves. He commented: “They can send messaging back to either the local host servers for Voice or to the Cloud etc. So, by decoupling where a lot of that heavy processing

often can make migration more difficult; so

to create SaaS products that can stand shoulder

is and then putting many cases right on the

instead of moving to the Cloud many companies

to shoulder with the established on-premise

device you are now able to support largely

are moving to multi-modal open architecture

solutions. “Increasingly, our SaaS WMS is being

Cloud-ready type operations.”

devices, such as Voice, which allows them to

evaluated alongside and chosen above on-

deal with their everyday processes and event-

premise solutions and not simply because it is a

Heaney continued: “The same thing is true on

driven flows without necessarily needing to rip

lower-cost option,” he said. “On this basis, we

WMS. Today, there is a lot more bandwidth and

out their legacy WMS.”

predict that Cloud will overtake the popularity of

less latency between how quickly the systems

on-premise WMS within the foreseeable future.”

can receive information. In some cases we have

Finken thinks it is clear that SaaS models do

seen SaaS-based WMS providers actually doing

work and are growing. He commented: “There

Pass explains that several of BCP’s Voice WMS

high-speed sortation where units pass by a

are major strengths to this model as they

customers have been operating private Cloud

scanner at rates of 2000 to 3000 per minute. As

generally do not require large capital investment

systems to manage multi-depot operations for

a result of that capability we are seeing many

and have flexible contract terms so it provides a

years, but BCP’s own research and experience

more people opting for a solution that allows

low risk option to companies providing they have

shows that customers prefer being able to see

them to leverage their WMS or their Voice system

resilient and reliable connectivity. With the

their own hardware and control their own data.

etc. more in the Cloud and then take advantage

massive growth over the last few years of mobile

“There’s still an inherent discomfort about the

of a common system across their warehouses

communications I think there are some real

data ownership issue which comes with the

facilities. Then, rather than having dedicated

opportunities here.”

SaaS/Cloud model,” he said.

implemented, they can take advantage of a

Tomasi believes SaaS is definitely becoming

Riviere comments that Zebra is seeing

more common broad-brush solution that is easier

more of a topic for discussion with customers as

increasing interest in SaaS as it is easier to

to maintain and also satisfy their needs.

they see the benefits. “I don’t believe we have

deploy and get up and running and offers a

Therefore, we are seeing the tendency for

fully crossed the chasm and entered into the

different investment model for customers.

people to start moving that way.”

Early Majority phase yet, but I see the market as

Williams points out that term ‘SaaS’ has been

definitely trending in this direction,” he said.

around for many years, and its impact and

Heaney added that,

“Much as we saw back in the 1990s when real-

interpretation can vary widely depending on

particularly in the case

time visibility crossed the chasm, we will see a

one’s perspective. He commented: “To some it

of new installations or

shift as some of the providers who failed to

means renting licensed software or pay to use,

new facilities, this kind

adopt the prerequisite technological

to others it represents having a hosted system

of migration is starting

underpinning fall to the wayside and new start-

that is run and managed by someone one else

to happen. “There are,

up companies burst onto the scene. This is good

and to yet another group it represents an

however, companies

news for the WMS market in general as

alternative cash flow profile.”

that are still tied to

historically these events drive the market

their legacy systems

forward.”

servers and differences in how things are

Bart Riviere, business development director for speech solutions,

14

IT

and to central

have been able to provide hosted or remote

processing that

According to Clark, the acceptance of SaaS

systems for many years with a variety of

happens at the facility

systems for CRM and ERP has opened the

licensing models. “However in order to maximise

itself,” he said. “This

floodgates for other pioneering system vendors

returns, Voice solutions often need to be

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Williams adds that Honeywell Vocollect solutions

October 2015

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Planning/Forecasting/S&OP

Special Report

configured, personalised or tuned to individual

dashboards on a tablet, supervision will be able

“Typically, managers

requirements, so as to deliver the most

to be undertaken more effectively without

and supervisors want

significant returns,” he said. “As such, the astute

individuals having to go back to the office every

the key information

client will usually invest in a solution that

time they want to run a query.”

and alerts pushed to their mobile devices

differentiates him in his market, whilst delivering an outstanding ROI, typically within a year. SaaS

According to Pass, there is significant interest in

with the ability to then

remains an option for voice that stimulates

mobile devices at senior levels for management

trigger actions in their

interest but doesn’t always deliver the best

of the warehouse, to quickly identify hotspots,

systems, even when

results.”

such as empty pick faces, for example, and in

they’re away from their

the field to allow field sales staff to better service

desks. The

Ed Spotts, senior ERP consultant,

customers with real-time information accessed

technologies to

Mobility

directly from the main system. However, he

enable this are well-

Are mobility solutions having a greater impact or

believes there is no real movement in this

established and in

influence on WMS and/or Voice-directed

direction on a day-to-day operational basis

general the key areas of focus are data security,

solutions? Finken states that these are exactly

where it would only contravene the whole ‘hands

making the information relevant and minimising

the sort of things that topVOX is developing and

free, eyes free’ ethos that underlines Voice

‘information overload’.”

deploying in augmented reality solutions now.

technology in the warehouse. Nevertheless, with

“This will extend not just within the warehouse

the growing popularity of wearable technology,

Clark comments that the widespread use of

but also across the whole distribution chain,” he

and the rapid rate of technical innovation in this

tablets and smartphones means all systems will

said. “We are already seeing this happen and as

area, Pass considers it is not unreasonable to

be developed to work on these platforms.

devices improve this will accelerate. We already

speculate that wearable mobile devices could

“Mobile Manager, our latest BI tool, will not only

have many live systems not just in warehousing

make inroads into the warehouse industry in the

be web-based to allow access anywhere, but will

and logistics but in healthcare, maintenance,

not too distant future.

also deploy native apps for iOS and Android devices,” he explained.

production and field service where these types of hardware devices have made this possible.

In Eppert’s view, mobile solutions are having a

Not only that, we also have several other

big impact on WMS. “Recent innovations have

According to Tomasi, mobility solutions are

solutions that we have developed that are really

created a new world of opportunities and

impacting the WMS market in a two main areas:

waiting for the hardware to catch up before we

improvements within warehouses,” he said. “For

Device selection and application development.

can really deliver them. But it is happening.”

example, if a service technician has to solve an

He commented: “On site, we see more

equipment-related issue, they benefit from

customers looking for alternatives to ruggedised

Heaney believes that, in today’s digital society,

having all the relevant information on their mobile

terminals and PC stations, and off-site more and

we are becoming increasingly accustomed to

device, such as a tablet. In addition, if they

more companies are adopting a BYOD (bring

leveraging benefits of smartphones and

require remote assistance, they can highlight the

your own device) approach to technology, which

ecommerce etc. “For example, many consumers

problem with a mobile video camera while

requires solutions to be either easily installed or

now expect to be able place an order with

discussing the situation with a specialist,

accessible through the web. Luckily,

Amazon and receive it within a day or two, and

conceivably thousands of miles away (as per

development technologies like HTML5, reactive

track and trace it on its delivery path,” he said.

Vanderlande’s EYE4U solution). As mobile

screen designs, etc. are enabling software

“Consumers also expect to be able to easily and

technology continues to evolve, we will see more

providers to support a much wider range of

quickly return unwanted goods. So we are

of these applications appear on the market. This

devices without additional investment in

communicating needs fairly immediately and

will help to improve the overall service level and

development or support.”

getting statuses almost immediately. This

process continuity in warehouses.”

expectation of quicker delivery and traceability also ripples into the workplace.”

Eppert adds that being online is such a big part

Greater access

of our personal lives that we expect to enjoy the

Briggs observes that the scope of people using

According to Wilson, a growing number of

benefits of this in a professional capacity.

these mobile devices is changing; with more

people who have the task of supervising the

Alongside the easy to use applications, Eppert

people having access to information via

pickers in the warehouse want to go out on the

makes the point that WMS provides accurate

smartphones and tablets for reports and

floor with a tablet; bringing the supervisor layer

information and reports, whenever it is required.

dashboards while they are out and about/at home – and more executive level personnel

out of the office and to the operation. “Allowing

using mobile devices than before.

the WMS to display dashboards on a tablet

du Preez states that mobility has been core to

makes things much more convenient,” he said.

Voice solutions since their inception. “Mobile

“One of our clients is in the process of piloting

access to the back-end systems that manage

Spotts considers that technology is benefitting

this because that will mean the supervisor layer

mobile workers is a more recent development,

smaller and smaller companies. “How many

is not tied to the desk. Through being able to see

but demand is growing rapidly,” he said.

times have you been at a street fair and seen a

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food wagon or a street seller collecting data off

make sure employees are using the right device

businesses to compete more effectively with the

of a phone or tablet mounted credit card

for the right task. Fixed and mobile printers

larger corporates. This is why we will soon be

reader?” he said. “Smaller, inexpensive systems

enable assets and inventory to be efficiently

offering business intelligence and dashboard

allow small businesses to manage their inventory

tracked. Powerful, rugged single and multimodal

tools within our Snapfulfil WMS, built on the

and accounting with simple, affordable

devices provide functionalities – from scanning

incredibly powerful MicroStrategy platform.”

technology. Benefits of inexpensive mobile

to tag reading to Voice picking and more – in a

computing platforms don’t need to be limited to

variety of form factors such as handheld, vehicle-

Clark added that each reporting Pod within the

small businesses. In the right environment in

mounted, wearable and hands-free mobile units.

dashboard can be interrogated in a variety of

large corporations, these inexpensive, versatile

Multimodal technology is rising in importance,

ways and the BI reports are easily customisable

devices can improve business efficiencies and

providing users with the ability to perform

with graphs, charts, gauges and other easy to

serve as data terminals, cameras, barcode

multiple tasks on one device; for example, units

view options. Alerts can be set by the user and

readers and – yes, of course – Voice recognition

that combine scanning, Voice and text, with the

reports easily exported via email, with

systems. Because of the massive quantity of

option of using Voice-only, text-only or

annotations to provide swift notification and

such devices that are in use for personal and

combination Voice and text for input.”

further investigation. “This data is all seamlessly integrated with the data within the Snapfulfil ‘Data

business use, a great deal of technological

Cube’ and non-linear reporting allows for rapid

development has poured into making such

Big Data

searches of millions of rows of data,” Clark

Is Big Data now having a notable effect on the

continued. “By using the power of Software as a

Williams believes mobile devices are de facto in

development, operation and benefits of WMS

Service, all Snapfulfil users will soon be able to

today’s world and interoperability should be the

and Voice? Wilson considers that if one thinks of

choose an Enterprise level business intelligence

norm. However, he adds that Voice enables end

Big Data as collecting and using the pool of

tool that would usually be outside of their

users to do what their business requires of them

detailed transactional data, then this is what the

budgets.”

in the best possible way, rather than their being

workforce management applications he referred

encumbered by technology. “The trick is to

to earlier do. He added: “It used to be that data

Tomasi believes Big Data is another area within

apply technology in the least invasive way to the

collected in the WMS was cleansed each night

the WMS market that has not progressed

user, letting it assist rather than direct strategy,”

and the following day the process would start

beyond the early adopters, but nevertheless has

he said.

again. The results were posted into the ERP but

massive ramifications for our industry. “It’s not

the actual transactional data wasn’t analysed in

just about data retention but rather how quickly

Riviere sees enabling mobile workers to make

any great depth and was regularly disposed of.

and easily the massive amounts of data can be

real-time decisions based on actionable

Most WMS solutions aren’t particularly designed

optimally searched and, most importantly, how

intelligence as a major trend. “With the

to be data storage devices, however there is

the results can be used in ways that propel a

development of technology and Voice-picking

now a recognition that this data does have value

company ahead of their competitors,” he said.

solutions they provide greater access to data

and is often exported into workforce or labour

and also data in real time through industrial

management modules where it is held and

Pass considers that capturing performance data

WLAN solutions,” he said. “This also links to the

where there is then analysed. That can help

and using it alongside advanced labour

key trend of increased mobility in the workplace.

improve how workers are performing, so that’s

scheduling, such as BCP’s Accord Voice Labour

By providing workers with real-time data through

how I see Big Data applying to warehouse

Scheduling system, facilitates better

handheld devices it can provide them with key

operations. There is a lot of transactional data

management of manpower resources, time

enterprise intelligence to enable them to make

available, but it’s really about getting the value

scheduling and identification of any underlying

key business decisions.”

out of that data which companies are

issues. In the wider field of ERP solutions, Pass

increasingly keen to achieve. This wasn’t so

believes Big Data promises much, but only if IT

much the case two years ago.”

solutions can manage the huge volumes of data

devices an integral part of day-to-day life.”

Riviere explains that,

available and deliver it to users in a meaningful,

in the past,

easy to use and interpret format.

warehouse operations

Bill Tomasi, VP product management,

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IT

tended to look at

Clark makes the point that by combining different

mobile devices as

sources of information, a sophisticated business

Briggs explains that much of the business

one-size-fits-all.

intelligence tool can convert data into real usable

intelligence in BEC’s solutions to date has

“That’s no longer the

management information. He commented:

focused on users; for example the

case,” he said.

“Knowing what is happening and what

performance/productivity of operatives. “We

“Today, with the

happened is one thing, but being able to know

expect that we are going to see much more use

proliferation of

ow that compares with yesterday, this time last

of the masses of data that can be gathered

smarter, more

week, last month and forecast what resources

through our warehouse management systems,

productive mobile

will be needed to hit deadlines and update that

giving the ability to monitor all business process,

devices, the goal is to

throughout a working day will allow smaller

transparency across many sites,” he said. “The

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Special Report

large volumes of quantitative data will enable

the result of the technology employed to manage

that in the past were

very accurate measurement and forecasting of

Big Data. Companies can now have a global

simply batched and

resources – labour, energy, materials etc. – and

view of their inventory. With the advent of

delayed.”

provide immediate real-time quality and reliability

inexpensive sensors and computers, they can

measures, with triggers for anomalies, and

collect vast amounts of data. Data can include

Riviere explains that

exceptions which can then be handled

text, images, audio, and video. Big Data is often

Zebra’s solutions can

immediately.”

characterised as high volume, variable, real time,

provide a much

and accurate.

deeper insight by providing real-time

Better insight

“Vast amounts of data do nothing but fill up disk

data that feeds into

Eppert believes Big Data is having a noticeable

drives if proper organisation and analysis of the

the WMS systems. He

impact on the world of WMS. “These systems are

data is not completed. When making the

commented: “This

required to deliver more detailed internal process

decision to collect and store massive amounts of

help provides visibility

data to the business intelligence platform, which

data, advanced tools with algorithms and

of assets and visibility

facilitates in-depth analytics,” he said.

analysis must be employed to transform it from

throughout the warehouse and supply chain.

“Combining this data from multiple points within

data to meaningful information. Cutting-edge

With the advent of today’s mobile technologies

a warehouse can offer a better insight into areas

technology allows forward-thinking users to

and the Internet of Things (IoT), enterprises can

of improvement. The correct interpretation of

quickly recognise changing patterns, detect

accelerate productivity, profitability and

data will remain a human task for now and not

seemingly invisible issues, conduct predictive

operations with solutions designed specifically

fully automated in the near future. In this sense,

analysis and enable confident decision making.”

for their processes. With the right IoT solution in

Darrel Williams, region director Northern Europe,

place, enterprises can connect all devices

Big Data can be understood as an approach to making effective decisions based on reliable

Heaney reflects that, when one talks about the

across a centralised Cloud network, and capture

information. One of the expected challenges will

event-driven warehouse this is not just about

and share their mission-critical data, allowing

be to incorporate media information such as

adopting more interactive technologies and

them to gain real-time visibility of their operations.

pictures and movies taken from warehouse

solutions. “There is also a need to interleave

This actionable insight is what provides

processes into data analytics.”

those very tightly into the workflows,” he said.

organisations the Enterprise Asset Intelligence

“After all, it does companies no good if they

they need to make improvements. This

Spotts reflects that Big Data is a term coined to

bring in Voice but are then not be able to take

enhanced business knowledge can be gained

describe data sets so large or complex that

the input from the Voice unit and interdict or

through a set of enabling technologies in the

conventional software and hardware are

interleave an order into the workflow. Why

areas of asset management, Cloud, mobile and

inadequate. “This definition is a moving target,”

provide the capability to communicate in real-

Big Data.”

he remarked. “Data sets that were

time with a system if it goes into a black hole and

incomprehensible and hard to manage a few

doesn’t allow workers to react to it for, say, a hot

Riviere added that he sees enabling mobile

years ago have now become routine.”

replenishment etc.? So you need to be able to

workers to make real-time decisions based on

access the more granule data and be able to

actionable intelligence as a major trend. He

Spotts continued: “Putting aside that rather

react to it much more in real-time and deploy

makes the point that Zebra’s solutions (WLAN,

vague definition of Big Data, let’s talk about the

courses of corrective action if necessary. The

RFID, scanners, mobile computers) are key to

benefits that global companies can achieve as

whole purpose is to be able to take on workflows

capturing real-time data (barcodes, timestamps, location etc.) to enter into WMS systems to enable this. “With the development of technology and Voice picking solutions they provide greater access to data and also data in real time through industrial WLAN solutions,” said Riviere. “This also links to key trend of increased mobility in the workplace. By providing workers with real-time data through handheld devices they can access key enterprise intelligence to enable them to make key business decisions.” Riviere is seeing this then being increasingly analysed to make business decisions. “For example, in Zebra’s warehouse in Heerenveen, we integrated our own Real-Time Locating System (RTLS) technology with the WMS system

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Special Report

Voice/Warehouse Management Systems

to enable a truly dynamic and real-time facility.

the consumer market is concerned and in trend

average smartphone and its apps are

The solution enables staging requests from the

analysis. So I think so far there are clear

improving monthly,” he said. Also, Eppert

WMS to be dynamically staged, resulting in a

benefits in these areas and in intelligence

reflects that the discrepancy between the

40 per cent space saving versus traditional

gathering for businesses. How exactly this is

‘always connected’ trend in the consumer

fixed staging and savings of over 400 man

being used in WMS and within the four walls of

market and the demand for IT security within a

hours per month.” In terms of hardware, Riviere

a warehouse is yet to be fully understood. The

warehouse will be an interesting topic to work

is also seeing increasing analytics available to

key is that we know it will as systems and

on as a product manager.

ensure optimal performance. For example, he

business processes become more and more

points out device-diagnostic services are

interconnected and as the consumer demands

Finken comments that topVOX is now deploying

available to maximise the performance of Zebra

more flexibility and greater service. That said,

solutions that combine new hardware with the

mobile computers and ensure visibility.

there are some new developments that we are

use of ‘Voice and Vision’. “This is very real now

progressing right now, which will materialise in

and I think this will be a big growth area over

the next year or so.”

the next two years,” he said.

systems have provided fairly detailed

Williams considers that Big Data is a relatively

Finken pointed out that customers are

transactional records of the activities in the

recent term for analysing what is happening

continually demanding more flexibility.

warehouse. “Increasingly, this data is being

and using what one has learned. “Voice has

Therefore, he thinks the use of android in

used to provide more meaningful and

been applying these principles for many years

warehouse operations will be a very noticeable

actionable insights into the operation, which in

to streamline and optimise labour-intensive

development as the hardware can be much

turn enable managers and supervisors to make

warehousing activities,” he said. “The very

lower cost than traditional ruggedised devices.

better decisions,” he said. “Some providers

nature of Voice technology delivers visibility into

“The key here is how we enable customers to

have evolved this historic view of activity into

the component parts of every process, rather

have this flexibility,” he said. “So we will be

predictive analytics that use past and current

than just reporting the outcome, providing

developing our Lydia Voicewear to help with

performance to predict future outcomes such

unprecedented data points to allow us to make

this in keeping low-cost devices protected and

as completion times and resource

actionable change. For example, we notice in

therefore viable in the harsh environments of

requirements. These insights and predictions

the ‘profile’ of a product that is picked several

warehouses.”

are proving to be extremely valuable to users

times a day that there is a higher than normal

and so the providers of these systems are

percentage of walk time, so we are able to

Also, Finken believes the market will continue to

investing more into research and development

analyse the actions and identify options for

see the growth of ‘Pick and Pack’ operations as

of these Big Data tools.”

immediate improvement, for example, why

businesses modify their models to allow

aren’t we batch picking multiple orders or even

shipment direct to end customer. “We are

moving the stock location?”

experiencing a growing number of customers

du Preez observes that most warehouse management systems and Voice execution

du Preez points out that by combining real-time

asking us to enable ‘Pick and pack’ within their

operator performance with data from the WMS

operations, and this has been a built-in option

and transportation scheduling systems, Voiteq’s Warehouse Execution System is able to predict

Looking to the future

on our ‘Lydia Plug and Play’ system for quite a

the completion times of zones or routes and

What might be the next innovations and

while now,” he said.

recommend alternative resource allocations to

developments to look out for in the world of

avoid or minimise missed shipping deadlines.

WMS software and Voice-directed systems over

Larger data sets captured over longer periods

the next year or two? Eppert believes one area

Wearable technology

allow users to compare current and historic

of development will be the integration of new

Pass believes wearable technology is one area

performance and to

technology such as automated shuttle systems

that will become more prevalent within the

measure the impact

allowing for scalable storage or automated

Voice space, while Clark considers that WMS

of changes to

mixed palletising solutions. These, he sayd, will

systems will continue to become more

processes.

need specific WMS support in order to get the

sophisticated, with the ability to handle greater

maximum benefit.

levels of exceptions without requiring any manual intervention or administration by

Finken reflects that

Steve Wilson, vice president, practice lead – operational excellence,

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IT

there is a lot spoken

Another challenge for WMS software, according

operators. This, he believes, will essentially

about Big Data within

to Eppert, will be handling the conflict between

make the system smarter while keeping the

logistics and

the impressive speed of innovation and release

user experience simple and straightforward.

distribution. He

cycles from the consumer market and the

Briggs considers that Voice could spread

commented: “And

demand for future-proof investments in the

further from warehousing into manufacturing for

certainly there are

world of logistics. “For example, mobile

assembly, inspections etc. (for more comment

huge benefits already

terminals in a warehouse are often in operation

in this area, see pages 30 and 31).

being realised where

for many years, while the capabilities of an

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refinements that still

Within the next year or two Tomasi thinks we will see improvement in the SaaS adoption, clarity

Changing demands

add significant value

of purpose in the Big Data arena,

du Preez comments that ever changing

to costly operation.”

emergence/improvement of augmented reality

demands on warehouses – driven by

technology, and improved adoption of existing

consumers, retailers and regulation – will

Williams explained

development technologies. All of this will, he

force them to consider flexibility and rapid

that some of

believes, lead to a rejuvenated and much more

return on investment as key factors when

Honeywell Vocollect

dynamic WMS market, which will be good for

choosing technology. “With the range of

Solutions’ more

vendors and customers alike.

proven integration options available from

recent innovations

experienced vendors, it will be easier than

are the inclusion of

Heaney makes the point that because

ever for customers to implement Voice into

‘hands-free’

companies are adding extra complexity they

their operations,” he said. “Existing users will

scanning into a

are also adding more cost. “So one of the next

seek ways to further leverage their investment

Voice device;

frontiers is to become more profitable,” he said.

in Voice and will extend its use into

allowing all of the

“One way to achieve this is through more

warehouse processes beyond picking. We

benefits of Voice-directed work with the

effective labour-management, which can, for

therefore expect continued strong growth

additional option of automatic data collection.

instance, help to take out non-value-added

from the warehousing Voice market.”

Additionally, Williams points out that the

Martin Eppert, product manager,

company has produced advanced wireless

work. Some vendors now offer labour management solutions that are independent

du Preez also believes the market will see the

headsets with ‘sound sense’ noise

from their primary WMS solution, so that if a

use of Voice rapidly expanding into non-

cancellation that has further pushed the

user has a legacy system it can bolt on a

warehousing markets; particularly inspection

performance boundaries of industrial Voice-

labour-management solution. The idea is to

and in-store retail. “This will bring new device

recognition systems, whilst also offering even

provide an effective way to become more

and headset form factors as well as advances

more ability to integrate into multiple systems

profitable in your work processes as you turn

in the underlying Voice recognition engines,”

concurrently.

on these new more labour-intensive modes of

he said. “These innovations will positively

fulfilment.”

impact the established warehouse Voice

He added that, in line with the ‘keeping it

market and provide more options for existing

simple for users’ philosophy, Honeywell

users.”

Vocollect Solutions continues to implement

Heaney also sees a growing trend towards

practical improvements in both WMS

being able to take Big Data, analyse it and determine what the workload is going to look

du Preez added that, much like RFID, vision

integration, ergonomics and ease of use.

like tomorrow, the next day or the day after that

systems need to pass through their hype

Williams also explains that the company has

based on what has been seen today. He

stage before their particular business case

already witnessed the use of Voice into areas

commented: “If you think about an event like

becomes credible. “We do believe that vision

such as MRO, healthcare and in-store and he

Black Friday, orders are coming in, data is

systems, combined with quality Voice

sees its usage expanding into even more

being collected and the orders are being

recognition, will offer innovative solutions to

diverse environments.

processed – but there may be a certain amount

certain data-rich processes,” he said.

of backlog at the end of the day. There may be

“However, we don’t expect them to displace

an indication in the data itself that some items

current warehouse technologies any time

Augmented reality

are nearly out of stock, meaning you may need

soon.” Finally, du Preez believes the

Wilson reiterates his earlier point; that we are

to get extra stock from your supplier. You can

availability of new commercial models such

going to see a growth in augmented reality

now turn this Big Data into intelligence in order

as subscription will give customers the ability

technology in the warehouse. “The reason for

to be a little more proactive about where your

to select and implement Voice within their

that is with the amount of pressure on cost

next failure point may be. For example, you

budget cycle by shifting the costs from capex

people will be looking very aggressively at

might need to bring in more temporary workers

to opex.

how to do things that can reduce operating

tomorrow because the order levels are so huge

In Williams’ view, today’s advances in

costs,” he said. “I think we will probably see

and the popularity of some of these items is

technology and systems, coupled with the

more of an interest in warehouse automation

outstripping the pick face.”

increasing professionalism of the industry,

because people who are reconfiguring their

Riviere considers that more warehouses and

means that many things are being executed

networks or building new distribution space

distribution centres will be using multimodal

well in the logistics and warehouse arena. As

will be taking account of the living wage and

devices over the next year or two. He also

such, he believes that occurrences of ‘game-

the impact of that over the medium to long-

believes we there will be a sizeable increase in

changing’ innovation are less common.

term. Therefore automation may start to pay

all touchscreen devices being deployed in the

“However that does not mean that we stand

back a bit better than it has done in the past

warehouse. Finally, he anticipates further

still,” said Williams. “We continue to make

in the UK.” n

interest in SaaS.

small and subtle improvements and

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Success story

2XL says ‘yes’ to customer demands with best-of-breed WMS ‘IBS Dynaman’ irst established in 1999, family-owned Belgium-based company 2XL opened its doors as a transport specialist. From day one, the family Van den Poel had strong convictions around customer service, employee satisfaction, environmental impact, and quality standards.

F

One such conviction was that “no was not an option”. If a customer had a challenge, he or she could count on 2XL to deliver a solution. This approach worked, and business grew organically and at a steady pace. However, in 2005, 2XL knew it was going to need to make some substantial changes if it was going to be able to say “yes” to one of its most valued customers. Critical to being able to fulfil the needs of its customers would be the expansion of 2XL from a transport company to a turnkey provider of transport, logistics and storage.

The challenge The customer collaborated with 2XL, based on the DCS (Direct Customer Shipment)

concept that lifted the customer’s supply chain from the European mainland to the UK, to a much higher level. Introducing this concept would require an equally sophisticated warehouse and operations management system to service it. 2XL project manager, Mathias Van Den Poel knew that stepping into this project with the customer would irrevocably change the 2XL business model, and he was prepared to do so. One thing was certain: an information technology solution would play a key role. Armed with the customer’s business requirements for the warehouse operations, 2XL immediately began investigating the options for a warehouse management system (WMS). Meeting the stringent BRC Global Storage and Distribution Standard for the storage of ambient food and consumer products was one of 2XL’s objectives, and many WMS solutions could help Mathias Van Den Poel to achieve this. In the end, the deciding criterion for 2XL’s choice of WMS solution was Mathias Van Den Poel’s faith in both

the flexibility of the product and the people behind it. “Our brand stands as a commitment to our customers to follow through on the promises we make,” said Jean Van Den Poel, 2XL’s CEO. “Having a WMS provider we could trust was paramount in our decision to use IBS.”

In response The IBS Dynaman warehouse management solution was chosen by 2XL in September of 2005. Dynaman would allow 2XL to not only say “yes” to its customer, but to also say “yes” to future customers with needs just as sophisticated. The highly flexible, embedded rules engine in the Dynaman product provides 2XL with the ability to customise workflow processes to match customers’ needs, including the ability to integrate value-added services, such as case picking, cross-docking, and returnable packaging. Furthermore,

2XL’s convictions remain just as strong today as when it was first established in 1999. The company strictly maintains a minimum KPI target of 98 per cent for on-time arrivals, equipment, documentation, communication and more.

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Dynaman could integrate seamlessly not only with the different enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms of its customers, but also with the full WMS array represented by 2XL’s suppliers using an integration platform and supplier/vendor portal. There was also the question of timing: the system needed to go live within seven months of contract award. While 2XL was building its physical warehouses to meet the demand of its customers’ projects, Dynaman was continually phased in to match each stage in construction. In March 2006, 2XL went live. From what was once a completely manual system, 2XL has continually worked to transition its operations to automated systems and today it is still exceeding customers’ expectations. “IBS was intimately involved in the initial integration process back in 2006 – and beyond – serving on-site in a hands-on capacity to ensure we met our project goals,” said Mathias Van Den Poel.

n

Success story

The outcome

(AGV) in their warehouse, Dynaman has been there every step of the way.

2XL has successfully transitioned from a small, family-owned transport company to a leading European ISO14001-certified supplier that moves more than 300 loads daily. Expansion has been significant and 2XL now operates two rail-connected warehouses with 55,000 m2 of storage capacity.

“Our Dynaman solution has supported the doubling of our warehouse turnover, requiring less staff in the warehouse for a significant savings and bottom-line impact,” said Mathias Van Den Poel. n

At each stage of this expansion process, the Dynaman WMS capabilities were also extended to match. And, each time 2XL welcomes a new customer – from Austria’s RedBull to the UK’s Tesco Groceries – the Dynaman solution is configured to meet that customer’s needs. 2XL’s convictions remain just as strong today as when it was first established in 1999. The company strictly maintains a minimum KPI target of 98 per cent for on-time arrivals, equipment, documentation, communication and more. To deliver on such high standards, 2XL embraces innovation at each turn. And, whether it’s the automation of material handling or the integration of automated guided vehicles

IBS AT A GLANCE International Business Systems (IBS) is a global integrated ERP and supply chain distribution software solution provider. For more than 35 years, IBS has helped over 1000 customers – including Thermo Fisher Scientific, New Wave Group, Pincroft, Mayflex, Galexis, WorldPac, MacFarlane Group and Volvo – to streamline, automate and accelerate their distribution network processes, and drive profitability and efficiency.


Warehouse Management

n

Success story

The Cotswold Company polishes its warehouse operation with the help of Snapfulfil stablished in 1999, The Cotswold Company is an online retailer which sells beautiful, inspirational wood furniture and a wide range of accessories for every room in the house. The company is currently growing at an exceptional rate and will service over 50,000 orders this year.

E

Headquartered in Norwich, the company relocated its warehousing operation from Norfolk to Wednesbury in the West Midlands in 2013. At the same time, The Cotswold Company took the decision to bring the previously outsourced warehousing operation in-house. In addition to the main 90,000 sq ft warehouse, the company opened a further 55,000 sq ft facility in March 2015 to support its continued strong growth. The two warehouses handle in the region of 1200 SKUs and up to 1800 orders every week, rising to 3000 in peak season.

The challenge Prior to implementing Snapfulfil, The Cotswold Company used paper-based processes generated by the company’s SAGE accounting system to run the warehouse. The Cotswold Company’s warehouse manager, Paul Wilson, explained: “Our pickers were going out with reams of paper, which was fine until one went missing and everything then came to a standstill. “Our headcount was also too high – what we lacked in process we made up for in people. We had no real-time stock visibility and due to the amount of room for human error, inventory accuracy wasn’t great, which meant that we had to shut down for an annual stock-take. All in all, we just didn’t have the confidence that the warehousing operation could keep up with the growth and innovation in the rest of the business.”

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The solution The Cotswold Company took the decision to look for a professional warehouse management system to automate processes and optimise efficiency and accuracy within the warehouse. Following a review of possible vendors, the company selected the Snapfulfil SaaS WMS. Wilson commented: “I used to work for a 3PL and had had some experience working with one of the big on premise Tier 1 WMS’ but found it to be over complicated and difficult to use. We ruled the biggest vendors out straight away on this basis. We needed something which was user-friendly for any warehouse operative but at the same time, was functionally sophisticated. Snapfulfil offered the best of both worlds.”

Implementation Snapfulfil’s Cloud deployment method and Software as a Service model means that the

system can be implemented in as little as 45 days and The Cotswold Company was no exception. This included the writing of interfaces with the company’s in-house order and carrier management systems. “The Snapfulfil project team were excellent – their preliminary work was good and we were confident that they understood what we were asking for,” Wilson remarked. “As a result, the implementation was actually much smoother than I thought it would be.”

Benefits While The Cotswold Company’s volumes have doubled since Snapfulfil was implemented, headcount in the warehouse has actually decreased. “We saw an immediate improvement in operational efficiency and, over time, have used Snapfulfil to better manage and allocate resources within the warehouse,” said Wilson. “As a result, I’d say we’re around 30 per cent

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Warehouse Management

leaner and, in my experience, operate with significantly fewer people than many similar warehousing operations.” Wilson added that Snapfulfil also allows the company to carry out all key warehouse processes simultaneously – goods-in, goods-out, replenishment & auditing. “In my experience this is something that doesn’t happen elsewhere,” he said.

visibility, Snapfulfil’s structured cycle counting functionality has removed the need for an annual stock take and the associated loss of revenue. Receiving capacity has also

n

Success story

always welcome but it’s absolutely not the focus of the business. Our customers quite rightly demand exceptional service levels and we would never choose scaling the business at the expense of our service offering. Our service is integral to our brand.

We saw an immediate improvement in operational efficiency and, over time, have used Snapfulfil to better manage and allocate resources within the warehouse. As a result, I’d say we’re around 30 per cent leaner and, in my experience, operate with significantly fewer people than many similar warehousing operations.” – Paul Wilson, The Cotswold Company.

Another major benefit for The Cotswold Company, according to Wilson, was that the implementation of Snapfulfil allowed it to insource the warehousing operation. “This has given us the freedom to operate in a way that is best suited to our specific requirements and to innovate and adapt as our business continues to grow,” he explained. In addition to providing real-time stock

increased significantly, from three containers per day previously up to eight.

The future The Cotswold Company’s marketing director, James Birtwhistle, concluded: “Growth is

“That said, with almost two decades of fulfilment under our belt and our origins in the heart of the English countryside, we are uniquely placed as a heritage brand and we know that what we offer appeals to a market that’s not limited to the UK. Our aspiration is to continue to service our customers’ demands overseas through international fulfilment and this is one exciting area we’re actively pursuing. “The company is keen to develop the business architecture that will support the levels of growth it is experiencing and Snapfulfil is central to that objective.” n

IS YOUR YOUR WAREHOUSE YO WARE WA EHOUS USE READY R EADY DY F FOR O CHR OR CHRISTMAS? RIST TMA MAS AS S? ? If not, our proven warehouse mangagement system with no setup costs or initial investment, could be the gift that keeps on giving.

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Warehouse Management

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Product news

A vision built for the future The low margins inherent in today’s retail markets make it essential for warehouses and distribution centres to maximise their efficiencies. Vanderlande’s software suite, VISION, supports every stage of the warehouse automation process.

he demands placed on warehouses and distribution centres are becoming increasingly tough. End users expect a high level of service, which means there are multiple challenges in meeting: late cut-off times, shorter order lead times and increasingly frequent distribution of smaller items. In addition, 100 per cent accuracy is vital in processing rapid store-friendly and shelf-ready deliveries. This ongoing requirement to handle multiple retail formats, while reducing costs, has resulted in increasingly complex warehouse operations.

T

Automating these processes helps to maximise service levels, and ultimately creates new business opportunities. Material handling solutions supplier Vanderlande specialises in food retail, fashion, parts and components, and e-commerce. Recognising industry trends and turning these into positive developments is vital in a challenging market environment.

Vanderlande has already managed and completed ultra-large automation projects for some of the world’s biggest retailers. As well as its innovative systems, the company offers intelligent software solutions including VISION, a warehouse management and control system. “The added value that we provide with our software is operational excellence,” said Vanderlande managing director Software House WPP, Peter Stuer. “It’s also about customers getting the most from their processes, having visibility over their systems and abstracting the correct information to further fine-tune the overall performance.”

Maximum efficiency Automation brings benefits at every stage of the operational process. For example, by optimally stacking units on pallets or in roll cages, transport costs can be reduced by up

to 10 per cent. This begins with the arrival of goods and storage, the basis for all other warehouse activities. Vanderlande’s VISION drives the identification, checking and registration of products. They can be automatically directed for storage or order picking depending on the characteristics of each unit, which minimises manual handling and improves efficiency. From there, automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) increase productivity levels in distribution centres and make optimal use of floor space. Flexible, scalable technology such as ADAPTO can extend storage capacity and ensure easy access to products at all times. ADAPTO’s shuttle traffic control software maximises throughput rates and minimises order lead times. In support, the user-friendly interface provides a real-time overview of the system. The order-picking process can also be improved with the effective implementation of

Load Forming Logic (LFL) software screen illustration. 24

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Warehouse Management

into account the layout of the retail outlet, which optimises the unpacking sequence. LFL also calculates the handling capabilities of the robots that stack the pallets. This contributes to a smaller footprint for distribution centres, lowers transportation costs and ensures optimal fill rates.

Safeguarding process continuity software. Vanderlande’s automated case picking (ACP) systems provide the tools to outperform traditional order fulfilment methods, allowing for modular growth and maximum availability within food retail. Load Forming Logic (LFL) is the fundamental part of the ACP system. Robotic handling technology is also a key feature. The software defines optimum stacking patterns for pallets with a specific product group sequence in mind. This ensures lighter products are not stacked at the bottom of the pallet, underneath heavier items. Store-friendly deliveries are assured by taking

Alongside ACP solutions, VISION software supports other automated order-picking systems such as zone, goods-to-person and batch picking. Picking accuracy levels of up to 99.99 per cent can be achieved and space utilisation optimised by up to 40 per cent compared to conventional warehouses. There are also efficiency gains to be made through software when sorting goods for onward transportation. Automated order consolidation and shipping can significantly enhance the efficiency and speed of an outbound operation. Goods can automatically be directed to a lane associated with a specific retail outlet, delivery route or provider. The result is fast, efficient order consolidation and

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Product news

store-friendly delivery with minimum manual labour requirements. In addition, business process intelligence (BPI) provides access to key information at every stage, which is vital for continuous business improvement. Useful data is gathered from operational systems and transformed into standard information that can be understood by all the relevant parties. BPI also offers the capacity to benchmark on costs and service-level performance against other warehouses and distribution centres. “One of the major advantages is that customers can access the right information, whenever they wish, with an appropriate level of detail,” added Stuer. “It’s a really powerful tool because several reports can be generated dependent on what they would like to know.” The combination of software support during every stage of the process and BPI helps warehouses safeguard continuity in their business activities. VISION is an integral link in the chain and ensures higher accuracy, increased productivity and reduced costs in a market that frequently demands no less than perfection. n

Reliable partner for value-added warehouse automation

Vanderlande is a major player in the warehouse automation market and specialises in solutions for food retail, fashion, parts and components and e-commerce. It cooperates closely with its customers to optimise their supply chain and enhance the efficiency of the processes in their distribution centres. The company is a one-stop shop for innovative systems, intelligent software and life-cycle support. This integrated approach results in an optimum performance throughout the system‘s lifetime. Curious to find out how your warehouse processes can be optimised? Contact Vanderlande today. Email: info@vanderlande.com. > vanderlande.com


Warehouse Management

n

Product news

Ergonomic Solutions

launches SpacePole Essentials for the Warehouse & Distribution sector

rgonomic Solutions, the designer and supplier of technology mounting, mobility and security solutions, has launched the SpacePole Essentials range for Warehouse & Distribution (W&D) applications. The SpacePole Essentials W&D product line is specifically developed for the Warehouse & Distribution sector, a market segment that has

E

technology, such as goods in and out, Ergonomic Solutions' products interface with existing racking systems. Mark Crysell, product marketing director, Ergonomic Solutions, commented: "SpacePole has become the de-facto standard for the retail industry around the world. Technology that is driving change in that sector, such as

Mounting points within Warehouse & Distribution can be quite different to those found in retail and banking. Instead of fitting the Spacepole to a counter, the device will likely be mounted onto racking rails, trolleys, forklifts or picking trucks. So, the requirement is to fit the SpacePoles to more rounded profiles. There may be greater levels of vibration to take into account too. Therefore, what is needed is more robust, lock-in clamps rather than pure adjustable clamps.” ispatch are already 99.9 per cent more reliable and faster because of it." – Mark Crysell, Ergonomic Solutions.

seen a similar evolution towards mobility, requiring innovation where the user interfaces with technology in both mobile and static applications. Building upon, and compatible with, Ergonomic Solutions' existing Essentials range, the Essentials W&D product line provides a large number of mounting options, both standard or customised; as per the requirements of the end user. With the emphasis on mobility and real-time data capture, the SpacePole Essentials W&D product line delivers mounting solutions for technology in a range of applications; including forklift trucks, reach trucks, and collection & delivery trolleys. Where the requirement is for a fixed mounting of

are mounted. "Mounting points within Warehouse & Distribution can be quite different to those found in retail and banking,"

the use of tablets and touchscreen based applications has also transformed the Warehouse & Distribution workspace." He added: "SpacePole Essentials W&D unlocks the potential of that technology by providing a wide range of mobile and static mounting options that maximise investment whilst providing the best possible user interface for the worker wherever they are operating within the Warehouse & Distribution workspace."

Fit for purpose In terms of what differentiates the new range from the other products within the SpacePole portfolio, Crysell explained that it mainly comes down to how they

Mark Crysell: “SpacePole Essentials W&D [provides] a wide range of mobile and static mounting options that maximise investment whilst providing the best possible user interface for the worker wherever they are operating within the Warehouse & Distribution workspace.”

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he said. "Instead of fitting the Spacepole to a counter, the device will likely be mounted onto racking rails, trolleys, forklifts or picking trucks. So, the requirement is to fit the SpacePoles to more rounded profiles. There may be greater levels of vibration to take into account too. Therefore, what is needed is more robust, lock-in clamps rather than pure adjustable clamps."

Solutions also worked with leading racking manufacturers to understand how SpacePole solutions could be designed generically to be easily mounted onto their racking systems, while also being easily customisable to mount onto almost any type or racking or other system required by the end-customer.

Close channel links Flexibility Crysell pointed out that the SpacePole Essentials W&D range has also been designed to be able to hold various specifications of size and shape of mobile tablet, as well as to be flexible in terms of whether the preference is for fixed or removable mobile devices. "Users may require a purely fixed environment and be able to charge the device in situ, or want to be able to regularly remove the device from the SpacePole in order to carry out tasks throughout the warehouse or distribution centre, we have ensured that the SpacePole is able to work to any working scenario," he said.

Testing Crysell explained that Ergonomic Solutions developed the new product range by closely working with three existing retail customers in their distribution centres in order to best understand the precise requirements of companies running busy warehousing operations. He added that Ergonomic

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n

Product news

relationship with our channel partners we knew that many of them were already actively serving the Warehouse & Distribution sector by supplying various types of mobile technology. We therefore felt that, due to our close channel links and what we perceived to be a strong need within our existing customer base, it was the natural progression to introduce a special series of products specifically for this market segment.� n

Ergonomic Solutions has always sold through its established network of resellers worldwide. Crysell commented: “Through our close

ERGONOMIC SOLUTIONS AT A GLANCE Ergonomic Solutions is a supplier of innovative and ergonomically designed technology mounting solutions, developed in partnership with global retailers and technology suppliers. The company understands the complexities of integrating technology into new or existing systems and furniture. With nearly 20 years of experience, and over 4 million installations globally, SpacePole is already the technology mounting platform of choice for many leading retail, and transportation organisations across the globe. Ergonomic Solutions' application areas extend across POS, Payment, Digital Signage, Self Service, Mobility, Warehousing, Distribution and Logistics. Headquartered in the UK with its own manufacturing facility in Demark, Ergonomic Solutions is a channel-led business with customers and partners across the globe. Additional services include design and development for customised solutions and the company's influential Ergonomics consultancy, which has advised many of the major European retailers how to create a workspace that optimises accessibility, usability, safety and comfort for their staff and customers. Ergonomic Solutions' SpacePole ranges are proven in the field; modular, enabling cost-effective upgrades and provide both physical and tamper proof protection to hardware investments.

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V OICE technology

Success story

topVOX Lydia runs swimmingly at J&K Aquatics &K Aquatics is one of the largest

J

from topVOX, the decision was taken.

nationwide distributors in the UK

I instantly knew that he was someone who

Aquatic trade. Paul and Judy

had been involved in the logistics industry for

James started the company

many years and had long-term experience

approximately 30 years ago. For

with picking, packing and distribution

many years now the company has grown to

processes. Someone that talked and

the size it is with over 70 employees. J&K

understood the same language as me.”

Aquatics has six regional sales people covering most parts of the UK and Ireland

“topVOX had also equipped one of our main

and a fleet of nine trucks and two vans

suppliers in Germany, a company called

delivering to customers on a weekly basis.

Tetra, with their picking equipment and for many years Tetra had been one of those

Having made various modifications to how the

companies we didn’t suffer picking errors

items on a customer order appeared on the

with. So this in itself was a pretty meaningful

picking list over the years, J&K considered

recommendation that Lydia from topVOX

going from paper lists to Voice recognition in

worked.”

order to work more accurately and without relying on someone’s product knowledge.

J&K Aquatics decided in favour of the Lydia plug&play solution – a preconfigured out of

Talking the same language

the box Voice picking package for small and

“Having visited a logistics show, we saw a

medium-sized businesses with up to 25 users.

couple of systems that were offering Voice

The plug&play package is based on standard

picking solutions”, remembered Paul James,

components and processes. In addition to

managing director of J&K Aquatics. “But

Picking, other modules are available to extend

when we had the first visit from Phil Oliver

functionality to cover everything from Goods In through to Despatch including Product

J&K’s IT department, together with input from the topVOX team managed the implementation seamlessly. On a Tuesday morning, the topVOX team installed and tested the system in the morning and trained the operators in the afternoon. On Wednesday the system was running smoothly.

Counting whilst still keeping costs very much under control. It makes implementing Voice

morning, the topVOX team installed and

picking extremely easy as well as very

tested the system in the morning and trained

affordable.

the operators in the afternoon. On Wednesday the system was running smoothly.

After running a workshop with J&K Aquatics and their WMS provider, everything was

Another important advantage of topVOX’s

defined and all agreed on the interface and

Voice solution Lydia is the speaker

the process for picking. “topVOX worked very

independent recognition, which means the

hard to make sure we were comfortable with

system does not require any speech training.

how we put the system in and how we were

“Basically, I could take someone off the street

going to set about it. We also had a site visit

and have him productive and accurate

to a topVOX customer running 70 operators

immediately. It just works,” confirmed

on three shifts and it was commendable what

operations manager, Nigel Webber.

they were doing,” remembered Paul James. J & K’s main objective of going to Voice

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Quick implementation

recognition was to improve pick accuracy and

J&K’s IT department, together with input from

in turn do away with expensive mistakes that

the topVOX team managed the

were also costing them time to sort things out

implementation seamlessly. On a Tuesday

when customers phoned in if they were on the

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Success story

V OICE technology

wrong side of the ‘ordered a product that was sent wrong’ equation. “Before the Voice system we experienced about eight errors per week, since then we have only had a handful of errors across the last nine months,” said Paul James. “We have already expanded the system by 30 per cent as we have grown, and this done perfectly easy by just adding new Voice clients.”

Worth the investment Paul James concluded: “We finally got hold of an IT solution really worth the investment – it was a project costing us just over £30,000 with VAT. It was refreshing to deal with a company that was confident in its ability to provide us with something that we were going to be more than happy to pay for when the invoice did eventually turn up. Too often you are promised the ‘ultimate solution’, which then turns out to be a total blunder when used in actual work. This time we got a perfectly running system with all promised benefits and more which was readily installed before we

Scan to see Lydia® in action!

paid the first penny.” n

Employing voice technology in the warehouse is now easier than ever!

Further information: info-uk@top-vox.com - www.top-vox.com - phone: +44-1327 261 050

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V OICE technology

Opinion

Pushing back the frontiers Voice-directed technology is broadening its reach beyond traditional warehouse picking and replenishment applications by clearly demonstrating the benefits it can offer a range of other market segments, writes Philip Jarrett, director of sales & marketing at BEC.

notice potential dangers such as

then sent to the appropriate local postal

approaching forklift trucks or trip hazards,

office before being delivered to the correct

which are more of a risk for workers who are

home address.

reliant on paper-based pick lists or terminals

However, because many of these parcels

where individuals would be looking at the

and letters do not contain the full address or

screen for instructions etc.

postcode the automated sortation machines often cannot determine which basket or

Package distribution

sorting office to send them to. Therefore, one

As well as observing and being involved in

of the daily tasks of a number of the workers

the increasing use of Voice within the

is to manually write the correct postcode

warehouse or DC, BEC is also witnessing a

onto the package. The package is then put

growing interest for Voice in less traditional

into another cage, which is then second-

applications. One of these involves a well-

handled by other workers within the DC.

known parcel distributor for whom BEC is

Because of this protracted and time-

currently trialling Voice to automate a

inefficient process, BEC is advocating the

process that has relied predominantly on a

use of Voice so that workers will be able to

series of manual tasks for many years. The

‘speak’ the postcode directly into the

company in question has four DCs around

system. The label will then produce a clearly

oice-directed technology first

the UK. These receive international parcels

printed label with a barcode and postcode,

began to be adopted within

and mail, many from Asia Pac countries. On

which will then be applied to the package

warehousing operations some

receipt, the packages have to be filtered and

before it is put onto the sortation track. In

Philip Jarrett: “There are now many proven applications outside of the traditional warehouse environment that are reaping major time, cost, efficiency and accuracy benefits through the use of Voice.”

V

20 years ago, and it has continued to be increasingly

used for picking or replenishment tasks within warehouses and distribution centres (DCs). Indeed, over the past two to three years we have seen the expansion of the use of Voice for a number of additional transactions or applications within the warehouse – including put-away, stock moving and stock accounting. Voice’s growing popularity and levels of implementation is perfectly understandable when one considers the benefits it affords – including increased productivity, better time management and greater levels of accuracy. Moreover, because Voice applications are hands- and eyes-free there are also added health & safety benefits to be had. For example, workers are far less likely not to

30

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V OICE technology

this way, the package doesn’t have to be

undertake the required tasks.

as product assembly. Building a product

handled twice in order for it to be correctly

A Voice system has now replaced this

efficiently involves ensuring the right

addressed and sorted. By using Voice in this

paper-based approach and instructs the

materials, parts or components are fitted in

way, there are clear time- and cost-savings

engineer precisely how to go about servicing

the right sequence and in the right place.

to be had.

a particular engine and in what sequence of

With Voice, production personnel can work

operations. Voice ensures that the

to a proven template of instructions in order

Servicing and testing

information the engineer receives at any

to build a product in the required way. This

Another area of growth for Voice that we are

given time is specific to the part he is

can help eliminate errors while also

seeing is in test centres. Honeywell, for

currently tasked with inspecting. This makes

substantially speeding up the process.

example, has a service centre for the

the whole servicing operation more accurate

In summary, there are now many proven

servicing and maintenance of jet engines.

and significantly more time-efficient.

applications outside of the traditional

When the engines arrive at one of these

Indeed, undertaking car MOTs is another

warehouse environment that are reaping

centres service personnel historically looked

growing area for Voice implementation –

major time, cost, efficiency and accuracy

at all the areas on the engine to be serviced,

offering similar benefits to the jet engine

benefits through the use of Voice – and I am

then it would largely be down to that

servicing processes mentioned above.

confident that we will see ever greater levels

particular engineer’s knowledge and know-

of Voice adoption in these markets, together

how as to how the service or maintenance

Manufacturing

with a host of other industry segments, in the

operation proceeded. These engineers

Within manufacturing, too, Voice is attracting

near future. n

would mainly follow a manual schematic to

an increasing level of interest for tasks such

“Honeywell Vocollect voice solutions from BEC can increase worker productivity up to 30%, whilst reducing errors up to 25%.”

Work faster, better, smarter and stay ahead of the competition with Honeywell Vocollect voice solutions from BEC. Vocollect Solutions Gold Total Solution Provider

Call BEC today and speak to the experts: +44 (0)1254 688 088 or visit www.becsi.co.uk


V OICE technology

Success story

Creed Foodservice boosts performance with Accord Voice WMS

F

oodservice distributor Creed Foodservice is realising major performance improvements following a £175,000 investment in Accord Voice Directed WMS from

supply chain software and warehouse management systems specialist BCP (Business Computer Projects Ltd.).

The company Award winning Creed Foodservice is one of the UK’s leading independent, family-owned foodservice wholesalers, delivering quality Country Range brand and branded products to over 2000 independent and multi-site caterers across the UK in the out of home market. The company operates out of two depots – Ilkeston in Derbyshire and Cheltenham in Gloucestershire – using its own fleet of over 70 multi-temperature vehicles to service customers and trunk goods between the two depots. It prides

Accuracy throughout the warehouse has improved, with picking accuracy now less than 1 error per 1000 items picked, impacting positively on service levels, slashing the costs involved with handling returns and allowing Creed Foodservice to dispense with a double pick checking procedure previously employed.

itself on its excellent service levels and its approach to corporate social and

receiving and FLT movements, but Picking

The results

environmental responsibility.

and Put away were still paper based. It saw

The 55,000 sq foot warehouse is now

Voice as the natural choice and addition to

managed entirely by Voice, operating 24

The challenge

its suite of WMS software in order to deliver

hours a day, six days a week and handling

The investment in Voice technology for the

the improvements it required, particularly in

over 200 deliveries a day, picked from over

company’s multi-temperature depot at

terms of visibility, improved accuracy,

6000 SKUs, in addition to Inter Branch

Ilkeston was prompted by growth and an

productivity and stock integrity. Knowing of

Transfers and nightly sub supply. 25 workers

ongoing commitment to operational

BCP’s pedigree in delivering Voice WMS

use the system across three shifts - goods

efficiency and delivering the best possible

solutions to the foodservice sector, the

in, replenishment and PI during the day and

customer service. Creed Foodservice’s MD,

company decided to invest in Accord Voice

Picking and loading on the night shifts.

Philip de Ternant, explains: “As we continue

WMS with Vocollect hardware to manage all

to grow we are continually looking at further

operations, wall-to-wall across the

“Accord Voice has delivered to our planned

improvements and efficiencies in our supply

warehouse, from goods receiving through

expectations, transforming operations at

chain and in delivering quality to our

put away, picking and replenishment, to

Ilkeston,” says Philip de Ternant. “Efficiency

customers. To underpin this we identified the

stocktaking and perpetual inventory.

has improved across all operations while real time information from the system has

need to give our managers better visibility of workloads and improved controls, and to

BCP worked closely with Creed

transformed visibility and traceability

improve productivity, pick accuracy and

Foodservice’s in-house IT team to phase in

throughout the business, improving stock

stock integrity.”

the Voice system, rolling it out first to the

integrity and replenishment.”

frozen foods department, followed by the

The solution

chilled department and, finally, to ambient

A 20% productivity increase has been one of

The company was using RF for goods

goods and non-foods operations.

the most significant improvements, as

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workers have benefitted from the intrinsic

from the elimination of paper lists and

am now able to wear thermo gloves which

nature of Voice. This eliminates the need for

associated tasks, such as printing and

were restrictive in use when I had to handle

hand–held devices or paper instructions

distributing lists and re-keying picking

and write on paper lists”.

(thereby freeing up both hands and eyes for

confirmations and order amendments. This

the task, so operators can work faster and

has not only reduced costs, but allowed

Training of new workers is now much faster.

safer) and allows them to interact directly

administrative staff to be redeployed more

Operations controller, Neil Corfield: “Initially

with the WMS, rather than having to interrupt

productively.

the roll out took around 4 weeks to fully utilise the full functionality for the team. Now

work to visit the office to collect new task lists. At the same time, more accurate, real-

The company was already using Perpetual

new staff can be trained to pick in hours,

time stock information has reduced re-picks

Inventory (PI) for stock taking, but the move

not days as before, so they become a

and time spent investigating stock

to Voice PI has improved both the speed

productive member of the team much more

discrepancies.

and accuracy of the process, while

quickly.”

bespoke Accord FLT functionality to Accuracy throughout the warehouse has

accommodate the narrow aisle

Philip de Ternant concludes: “BCP’s Accord

improved, with picking accuracy now less

configuration of the Ilkeston warehouse has

Voice solution at our Ilkeston depot has, as

than 1 error per 1000 items picked,

been particularly effective in streamlining

anticipated, proved an excellent fit to our

impacting positively on service levels,

FLT operations, improving both control and

requirements, quickly delivering the

slashing the costs involved with handling

accuracy.

improvements we anticipated, thereby allowing us to reduce costs yet improve the service we

returns and allowing Creed Foodservice to dispense with a double pick checking

The new technology has been readily

give to our customers. So much so, that we are

procedure previously employed.

adopted by warehouse workers with one

now looking to start implementing Voice

user commenting: “No pen; no clipboard.

picking at our Cheltenham site towards the end

There has also been a major reduction in

I’m hands free to pick and get on with my

of 2015 so we can realise the same

time spent on administrative tasks, resulting

job – and it’s even better in the freezer as I

improvements there.” n


V OICE technology

Interview

Voice and multi-modal technology – the perfect combination Manufacturing & Logistics IT spoke with Bart Riviere, business development director for speech solutions at Zebra Technologies, about what he believes to be some of the primary reasons why it is time to move to Voice and multi-modal solutions. Zebra Technologies supplies a full range of enterprise solutions, including: mobile computers, scanners, printers, location solutions, Voice solutions, RFID and WLAN. arehouse and storage

W

operations around the world are increasingly looking to Voice technology for efficient, hands-free

capabilities in order picking and beyond. They are also embracing multi-modal solutions that offer multiple data-capture capabilities – including using Voice for task direction and confirmation, or barcode scanning for serial number or date code requirements. As Bart Riviere, business development director for speech solutions at Zebra Technologies, explains, Voice and multi-modal technology is constantly evolving and creating new opportunities. He points out that the proprietary systems that were prevalent for a number of years are now giving way to a more open approach, including more choices in hardware and software and more ways to drive down costs and boost performance.

Bart Riviere: “Some 96 to 98 per cent of interaction time in the warehouse will involve the Voice component. However, through the multi-modal approach, we are also ensuring that people who would like to view certain types of information or graphics on screen can do this while still relying on Voice as their main daily working tool in order to work faster, more accurately and more safely.”

Better matched hardware and software

the Voice component. “This is because users

Open system benefits

With a proprietary approach, users can also be

cannot work faster, more accurately or be more

Riviere explains one of the key benefits of

limited in terms of the range of hardware and

focused by using any system other than Voice

‘open’ systems, like Zebra’s TekSpeech Pro

software applications. However, as Riviere

technology,” he said. “Users are listening to

Solution, is that they can lead to reduced

explains, Zebra’s open systems approach

instructions and speaking to confirm tasks have

costs and quicker functional advances for

means users can benefit from a wide range of

been completed. In so doing they become totally

users. “Proprietary systems can be very

Voice-enabled devices; from handhelds and

focused. Some 96 to 98 per cent of interaction

constraining for the user due to annual

‘wearables’ to truck-mounted terminals. “All

time in the warehouse will involve the Voice

licence fees and hardware that can only run

these devices have native interfaces for

component. However, through the multi-modal

on the vendor’s Voice software. Also,

ergonomic barcode scanning. This means

approach, we are also ensuring that people who

implementation can be a long process, which

customers can choose the best selection of

would like to view certain types of information or

can reduce the customer’s expected ROI.”

devices for different workflows – such as picking,

graphics on screen can do this while still relying

This is why Zebra subscribes to an open

replenishment and put away – in their warehouse

on Voice as their main daily working tool in order

systems approach to Voice and multi-modal

or DC. In addition to a range of hardware

to work faster, more accurately and more safely.”

solutions. “Our Voice-directed technology

options, Zebra’s open platform lets customers

combined with our network of software

source applications independently from

More application options

partners provides a wide range of options –

hardware.”

Voice technology has been proven to drive

including Cloud and client-based solutions –

productivity improvements of 15 per cent or

that deliver significant flexibility in costs,

Dynamic picking

more in case- and piece-picking applications.

capabilities and deployment strategies,” said

Riviere made the point that the key component

Now, Voice is increasing productivity for other

Riviere.

of multi-modal Voice solutions is, and will remain,

applications. Voice can be used effectively for

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6S STEPS TEPS T TO O FLA AWLESS W FULFILMENT The warehouse is at the centre of your business - it is the key hub through which almost everything must pass. In today’s highly competitive markets, efficient warehouse operations are critical to achieving customer satisfaction.

To discover how ho to consistently achieve accurate, on-time, flawless fulfilment, download our 6 Steps Guide using the QR code or URL below: http://hubs.ly/H01gb6R0 Step 6. T urnaround outbound Turnaround handling performance Step 1. Deploy industrial wireless solutions Step 2. Improve staff communications and management

Step 3. Streamline order picking process

Step 5. Upgrade inbound handling operations

Step 4. Advance inventory and storage capabilities


V OICE technology

Interview

many applications beyond just picking. “Tasks such as replenishment, receiving, quality assurance, put-away, truck loading and more can all benefit from Voice-enablement,” said Riviere. “And when your Voice-enabled hardware and software have the flexibility to meet the demands of your facility, you can accelerate the ROI from your technology investments. For example, one shift can use a device for case and piece picking, while the next shift uses that same device for trailer loading or cycle counting. While the ergonomics of these workflows are different, the flexibility of a multimodal capable terminal lets you get the most from every device.” Compared with the wide range of hardware and software solutions available from Zebra and its extended partner network, Riviere comments that single-source providers cannot offer the

Zebra’s Voice-directed technology combined with its network of software partners provides a wide range of options – including Cloud and client-based solutions – that deliver significant flexibility in costs, capabilities and deployment strategies.

same flexibility to address each process within customers’ warehouse or distribution centres

The network effect

order to be able to use the technology,” he

beyond order picking.

With Zebra’s TekSpeech Pro Solution, customers

said. “However, over the past four to five years

have the freedom to use any wireless network to

the technology has become much more mature

Enhanced labour management

power their mobile terminals and Voice and

and very robust. Today’s best speech-

Zebra and its software partners offer many

multi-modal software offerings. However,

independent Voice solutions are able to

robust reporting applications that can track

because engineer partners work to optimise the

understand different accents and dialects

productivity and other statistics at an individual

performance of Zebra mobile terminals on the

perfectly – as well as subtle changes in the

associate level. With the flexibility to build

company’s wireless network customers get

user’s voice over time or even during different

customised and detailed reports that offer

additional benefits from using Zebra technology

periods of the day – with no prior Voice training.

greater employee visibility and help optimise

together, including up to 20 per cent longer

With speech-dependent systems, users often

distribution processes, customers can drive to

battery life and improved roaming performance.

had to re-train the systems to understand their

new levels of productivity beyond what Voice

“When your network and mobile terminals work

voices every few months. Today’s speech-

alone can offer. “Our customers can deploy

together in perfect harmony, you unlock even

independent systems, such as TekSpeech Pro,

labour management and reporting tools along

greater value in your investments in Voice and

doesn’t need to look for an individual user’s

with a Voice and multi-modal solution, but it can

multi-modal technologies,” said Riviere.

profile, it simply recognises the appropriate language. This provides much greater flexibility

be smart to add reporting tools after these

for users.”

“This provides a new source of productivity

The benefits of a speech-independent system

gains and supports continuous improvement

Riviere also made the point that Voice

Riviere concluded: “With an open system

programmes.”

recognition technology has evolved

approach, powerful multi-modal technology, a

considerably over the past few years. “Back in

broad portfolio of wireless solutions and an

Riviere continued: “If users are operating a

the 1990s there were only speaker-dependent

extensive network of software partners, Zebra is

Voice-directed solution we have a very good

Voice systems whereby users needed to train

the smart choice for Voice and multi-modal

view of where they are spending their time: how

their voice profile for around 45 minutes or so in

solutions.” n

processes are well established,” said Riviere.

much time they spend moving, walking or driving throughout the warehouse; how much time they spend collecting empty pallets, how much time they spend fetching a shipment label; or the time required going to the expedition area etc. We can capture all this information as complementary data to what the WMS system can typically provide in order that further operational enhancements can be made to optimise daily activity in the warehouse or DC.”

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TekSpeech Pro – one solution, many options Zebra Technologies’ TekSpeech Pro takes performance and flexibility to the next level for Voice-directed warehouse applications with world-class speaker-independent Voice recognition, high-level Voice quality and the freedom of choice – the customer’s choice of mobile computers, accessories, application functions and back-end business systems. Additionally, TekSpeech Pro provides the tools needed to make every step in the development of Voice-directed applications easy – from dialogue scripting to host integration, deployment and solution management. To complement Zebra’s TekSpeech Pro solution, Zebra offers a full range of warehouse solutions including handheld, wearable and vehicle mount mobile computers, scanners, printers, location solutions, RFID and WLAN.

www.logisticsit.com


Opinion

V OICE technology

Planning and executing for omnichannel success By Anton du Preez, group sales director, Voiteq. hether you already have

W

some form of omnichannel capability or are still determining how to incorporate it into your

business, the associated rapid growth and complex change presents significant opportunity and significant risk to retailers today. The key to making the most of the opportunity and minimising the risk is the combination of a clear, validated plan of how to integrate omnichannel into your business and the efficient, accurate execution in your fulfilment operations.

Fail to plan = plan to fail Customer expectation and the influence of social media means that retailers have to get their In particular, hands-free, eyes-free Voice technology offers compelling accuracy, productivity and flexibility benefits that are ideally suited to batched, multi-order picking and packing processes that can co-exist with existing fulfilment operations.

omnichannel proposition right first time and also be able to scale and adapt it to support a rapidly changing market. Last year’s ‘Black Friday’ presented unprecedented spikes in demand

is required to ensure the correct items are

courier services engaged.

and some unfortunate negative press for retailers

picked. These orders then need to be

Consequently, when opening an online store

and logistics operators that were not able to

packaged and labelled for the consumer.

the retailer must decide how to fulfil these

cope. To ensure success and to be able to

Marshalling and assembly areas may now

orders, whether they can be fulfilled through

prepare well in advance for changes, retailers

require space for benches, pickers may now

the existing supply chain, or should the

need to consider multiple factors including:

use trolleys, more pick faces may need to be

network and stores fulfilment processes be

allocated, and more people employed across

adjusted to accommodate the orders, or

different shifts.

indeed if a completely separate channel

Which DC should satisfy the order? • Is there sufficient geographical coverage to

• The shipment of smaller orders on a more

should be established.

deliver the goods in an acceptable lead time?

frequent basis now requires more vehicle

For fresh products such as grocery this can

collections, possibly smaller vehicles. The

Using applied modelling algorithms

be more important than apparel, but

loading bays may be designed for the loading

There are tools on the market that use Applied

consideration needs to be given to the cost of

of larger vehicles and now need to

Modelling Algorithms (AMA) to model and

transport and the target demographics’ ability

accommodate smaller vehicles or courier

simulate the warehouse layout and calculate the

collections.

most efficient and cost-effective ways to operate

to wait more than 24 hours to get their purchase. Time to fulfil the order and the cost

• Goods Inward will no longer just handle cases

the warehouse. Using AMA tools means you can

of shipment suddenly becomes a retailing

and pallets. It needs to accommodate

change your plans in a safe computer

differentiator.

customer returns. Quality inspections need to

environment and test that your changes will work

be carried out, products may need to be

before making them; this is key in the rapidly

What changes do I need to make to the

repacked before they can be returned for

changing market of omnichannel. You can also

DC?

resale. This will impact on the space required

test your yard capacity to ensure any increase in

• The DC is now no longer a B2B supplier. It

and facilities needed.

the delivery schedule can be met.

needs to accommodate some of the tasks previously performed by the retail store. For

What transport is needed?

AMA can also be applied to the network, testing

example, customer orders now need to be

• Potentially smaller vehicles may be needed. A

the geographical co-ordinates of DCs and key

picked individually, so a level of quality control

www.logisticsit.com

new outsourcing contract established or

customer conurbations to then consider different

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V OICE technology

Interview

and having ensured the accuracy and performance of outbound processes in an omnichannel warehouse, the next area to consider is the real-time execution and overall management of the operation. Some modern warehouse management systems can offer this capability but many back-end systems are not designed to provide the real-time visibility and control that enables managers to ensure service levels are consistently and efficiently achieved. In order to support a growing omnichannel operation, it’s not necessary to replace your existing WMS. Seek out an execution system that can easily integrate with your back-end systems, batch work to maximise efficiency, provide full demand profiles. By creating a model in this way

market, flexibility and cost justification of each

visibility of the work in progress, automatically

the location of the DC can be changed and the

approach will need to be considered carefully.

manage work prioritisation to meet

net effect on the transport cost evaluated.

Full automation of e-commerce fulfilment is

transportation deadlines and provide full

Equally if the retailer is seeking to meet key lead-

possible, however this requires considerable

traceability of every step.

time-to-delivery criteria such as free next-day

capital outlay, has a long return on investment

delivery, and the order correlation between the

and has limited flexibility to adapt to future

How to plan for success

sales effects of free next-day delivery is known,

changes. Applying existing mobile

The continued growth in omnichannel retail has

then the model can find an optimum network

technologies, sometimes together with partial

validated the opportunity it represents to retailers

strategy balancing transport costs versus sales.

automation, to omnichannel processes can

and continued to challenge supply chain

provide a rapid, cost-effective solution.

executives. The well-established business

Efficient execution of the plan

In particular, hands-free, eyes-free Voice

principle of creating a strong, accurate plan and

Having a good plan is a vital starting point for

technology offers compelling accuracy,

then executing effectively against that plan

omnichannel retail however overall success is

productivity and flexibility benefits that are

applies very well to this market. In addition, stiff

also dependent on exemplary operational

ideally suited to batched, multi-order picking

competition and rapidly changing customer

execution. Part of the execution relates to the

and packing processes that can co-exist with

demand forces retailers to constantly review their

consumer front-end platforms, such as websites

existing fulfilment operations. Voice can also

plans and adapt their execution to remain

and mobile apps. From a supply chain point of

be used for in-store fulfilment of omnichannel

ahead. Applied Modelling Algorithms (AMA)

view, efficient, accurate, on-time delivery to the

orders such as pick-from-store, click-and-

offer proven mechanisms for retailers to build

customer is more important than ever.

collect or ‘dark store’ operations.

and maintain robust plans, and real-time

Omnichannel has also resulted in a significant

fulfilment execution systems combined with

increase in returns processing resulting in

How do I manage my omnichannel

flexible, accurate technologies such as Voice

additional costs and reverse logistics processes.

warehouse execution?

ensure that the plan is executed efficiently and

• Omnichannel orders are highly time sensitive

the brand promise upheld. n

How do I adapt to omnichannel order profiles? • Unlike typical store replenishment orders, omnichannel orders average one to two lines per order. Whether orders are shipping directly to the customer or to the store for a ‘click and collect’ service, this order profile requires a different execution approach. In order to achieve the necessary efficiencies, orders will need to be batched together and picked on one warehouse journey, ideally with a single pick-and-pack process. Which warehouse technologies are best to support my omnichannel initiatives? • Supply chain directors have a range of options to choose from and the speed-to38

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If the retailer is seeking to meet key lead-time-to-delivery criteria such as free next-day delivery, and the order correlation between the sales effects of free next-day delivery is known, then the model can find an optimum network strategy balancing transport costs versus sales.

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A voice solution that makes business sense Voiteq is a leading global supplier of Voice Directed Work solutions. Voice is our core business and we’ve helped our customers reap the substantial benefits of hands-free, eyes-free work for over 15 years. Voiteq has the largest global team of certified Honeywell Vocollect Solutions professionals. We offer a range of ways to improve your warehouse and line-of-business operations; including our award winning VoiceMan Warehouse Execution System, Business Intelligence reporting tool InfoCentre and VoiceMan Screen-to-Voice connector. With offices in the UK, France, Germany and North America, we provide a local service on a global scale.

voiteq.com/voice

Get more out of your warehouse: Improved Productivity Increased Accuracy Better Customer Service Clear Visibility of Operations Dashboard Reporting Flexible Software Certified Voice Professionals 24/7 Support Globally Proven ROI


V OICE technology

Opinion

Achieving greater productivity and higher morale in the warehouse By Darrel Williams, region director Northern Europe, Vocollect Solutions, Honeywell. motivated, in both what they are doing and

Incentivise

how they are doing it, without even

But how does being more efficient make

physically being there.

workers happier? It’s the responsibility of the warehouse manager to ensure that a good

Keeping the workforce motivated

job does not go unrewarded. But again, Voice

The concept of talking to a machine may not

can help. With Voice in place, it is possible to

sound like a great motivator, but voice

introduce competition and gamify elements of

technology has been found to have positive

the working day, offering rewards for

effects on warehouse workers’ work-life

completing additional tasks or meeting all

balance and overall wellbeing. How?

targets for a set period. With precise

Through providing clear guidance and

instructions given by the warehouse

direction over the course of the shift, and

management system, there can be no

enabling greater efficiency.

suggestion of bias towards workers, levelling the playing field for all.

Through Voice-directed work, warehouse Darrel Williams: “Businesses adopting Voice have seen an average increase of 20 per cent in worker productivity compared with previous systems. At the same time, accuracy rates have risen up to 99.98 per cent, critical when considering that the cost of returning an incorrect item is up to five times as much as processing a new sale.”

I

staff use small belt-worn portable devices

By viewing workflows in real time and

and headsets, leaving them hands-free and

monitoring progress, employers can also

eyes-free, focused on the task at hand.

adopt a more flexible model, re-directing staff

Instructions from the warehouse

onto particularly busy tasks in order to help

management system are delivered through

teammates, for example. This way, the work is

the headset, one simple command at a time.

completed quicker, which quite simply means

The picker confirms each instruction

that staff are required to work less overtime

verbally and the system is updated in real

and can restore the work-life balance.

t’s a well-known fact that happy and

time. As instructions are given on an as-

motivated workers produce better

needed basis, pickers can concentrate on

This use of incentives, better informed by

results, as illustrated in findings from a

single actions without distraction or delay,

technology, contributes to the overall

recent study by Warwick University. The

thereby reducing errors.

wellbeing of the workforce, while creating

study, carried out in laboratory

more fully-rounded employees.

conditions, found that happier workers were

Compared to manual processes, which

12 per cent more productive than their

involve checking lists or screens while

Health and safety

counterparts. It underlines staff morale and

simultaneously trying to carry out high

Health and safety should also be considered

wellbeing is not just an HR goal: it is

volumes of goods without making mistakes,

as important to overall worker morale.

fundamental to business performance

a great deal of the stress associated with

Warehouses can be inhospitable at times but

levels.

warehouse picking can also be removed.

the increasing use of technology is helping to

The logistics sector employs over 1.7 million

The result? Businesses adopting Voice have

workers in the UK and must actively

seen an average increase of 20 per cent in

For example in freezer picking, wearing a

manage morale to ensure it attracts and

worker productivity compared with previous

Voice headset means no need for workers to

retains the best employees. The warehouse

systems. At the same time, accuracy rates

remove gloves to type information into a mobile

is a key focus here, and traditionally may

have risen up to 99.98 per cent, critical

computer, a small yet incredibly strong benefit

not be seen as the happiest of working

when considering that the cost of returning

through the course of a working day. Working

environments. But warehouse managers do

an incorrect item is up to five times as much

with both hands free also makes it easier to lift

now have the tools to keep workers

as processing a new sale.

heavy items safely, and having both eyes free

produce safer working environments.

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every every second second counts counts

Voice-driven V oice-driven w workers orkers a aren’t ren’t just just faster: faster: they’re they’re focused focused on on what what counts. counts. Building voice into your distribution centre is one of the most effective ways to speed up operations. But your workers aren’t just faster – voice also enables you to rapidly scale your operations and redistribute labour where you need it most, giving you critical workflow agility. Find out what workflows look like when ever y second counts for more: Honeywell.

CHANGE CHANGE YOUR YOUR PERSPECTIVE PERSPECTIVE Look closer at w w w.honey wellaidc.com/v vocollect ocollect

© 2015 Honey well International Inc.


V OICE technology

Opinion

them and retaining them allows warehouse operations to run as smoothly as possible. By having the more attractive workplace environment, companies are more likely to attract and retain the best candidates, ensuring quality results.

Meeting peak demands Having a more skilled and motivated workforce will truly pay dividends when seasonal peaks arise. For retailers this is undoubtedly in the lead up to Christmas, as well as e-commerce bonanzas such as Black Friday. By ensuring better accuracy, and putting people at the heart of the process, Voice technology can help tackle these peaks without impacting negatively on workers. By being able to plan for peaks, Voice customers have reported they don’t experience issues or see them as a major concern, citing the fact that they are able to upskill new workers quickly and effectively – and meet demands as normal.

Happy workers: Happy managers? As the logistics industry continues to expand, working environments will doubtless come under further scrutiny. The use of Voice in the warehouse means that companies can ensure the process of picking is being done in the most efficient way, allowing managers to focus on human elements including employee morale and wellbeing. But of course, having these efficient processes will have already started to make the positive impact managers are looking for. Through allowing warehouse functions to means better awareness of your surroundings,

over £55 billion in the UK alone, it is clearly in

perform at optimum levels, Voice systems

thereby reducing the risk of accidents.

the warehouse manager’s interest to develop

are building better working conditions, for

Cumulatively, all of this has a profound effect.

the most efficient working models possible.

both employees and employers. One

Workers have been shown to be less tense at

Happier workers will be a by-product of this.

Honeywell Vocollect solutions customer commented that, after implementing the

the end of the day. Their daily tasks become that much easier to achieve, there is a

So does technology therefore become a

system, it found the performance of the

reduction in their worry of making a mistake,

factor in a worker’s decision of which

better, more experienced and motivated staff

and they know they are working as efficiently

company to work for? The choice between

increased 10 per cent. At the same time the

as possible, allowing them to leave on time.

using more traditional methods of picking and

company saw the performance of the less

Voice technology, with the benefits as we

experienced and sometimes less motivated

Is technology the deal-breaker?

have outlined, could become a tipping point

staff increase by 20 per cent. As everyone is

The use of technology can therefore be seen

to securing the best people.

working to similar levels of productivity it has made managing the workforce much more

as an enabler for the productive warehouse. With the industry reported to be booming at

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Securing these skilled workers, rewarding

predictable and accurate. n

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www.RetailTechnologyReview.com

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www.YourTechTV.com


P

lanning Product news

Taking planning

and scheduling to the next level Manufacturing & Logistics IT spoke with SIMATIC IT Preactor’s product manager, Barney Speller, about the company’s brand new planning and scheduling suite and the key benefits it affords end users, plus Preactor’s worldwide partner network. he new Simatic IT Preactor APS

T

capacity usage graphs,” said Speller.

change in terms of product

SIMATIC IT Preactor AP Ultimate

In a ‘Make-to-Order’ environment, the stock

structure since the company was

Speller explained one of the key benefits of

levels of finished and/or intermediate items will

first launched back in 1994.

SIMATIC IT Preactor AP Ultimate used in a

not be part of the key process parameters, but

Barney Speller, SIMATIC IT Preactor’s

Make to Stock environment is that users can

there will still be the need to evaluate the

product manager, outlined the main drivers

import current stock levels plus actual and

effects of future demand changes on the

behind the changes. “Over the years the

forecast demand. “The software can then

manufacturing process.

needs of our client base have matured. Many

consider rough cut capacity, pack forward

users now have more IT systems in place,

figures, target days of stock cover,

“For example, for complex assemblies in the

which means they require their APS

manufacturing preferences,

aerospace sector, each finished item may

(Advanced Planning & Scheduling) or FCS

minimum/maximum re-order quantities, re-

have a deep BoM and be made up of

(Finite Capacity Scheduling) solutions to have

order multiples, product shelf life, etc. to

thousands of individual components,” said

the flexibility to work alongside, and in

propose an accurate and achievable MPS

Speller “Many of those components are

concert, with these systems in the most

(Master Production Schedule),” he said.

manufactured in-house and they share

solution is the single biggest

production capacity, so there is a complex

efficient way possible.” Production capacity can be specified as a

relationship between manufacturing capacity

In terms of planning, the new product portfolio

quantity, duration or weight and using the

and demand. When a change in demand

comprises SIMATIC IT Preactor AP Ultimate,

Preactor calendar system capacity can be

occurs, whether that be in terms of quantity or

while on the scheduling side the company

varied over time. Speller pointed out that the

delivery dates, there is a need to be able to

has introduced SIMATIC IT Preactor AS

capacity available then limits the production

quickly assess if it is possible to meet the new

Standard, SIMATIC IT Preactor AS

volume created in each period. “Once an

requirements.” Speller also pointed out that it

Professional and SIMATIC IT Preactor AS

initial MPS has been created, the data can be

is possible to import demand changes into

Ultimate.

displayed as both stock profile graphs and

SIMATIC IT Preactor AP and create a new ‘what if’ plan. “The planning BoM will be exploded and SIMATIC IT Preactor AP will show if there are any capacity issues. If there are issues, an acceptable MPS can be created by working interactively,” he said.

SIMATIC IT Preactor AS Standard SIMATIC IT Preactor AS Standard uses orderbased scheduling to which the user can apply a ranking or weighting in order to prioritise the orders. It schedules based on availability of resources, additional constraints and the materials required for the order. During the scheduling process Preactor AS Standard can take into account different operation run

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P

lanning Product news

between operations and how much operation

they offer the very best fit for their own

times can be extended by.

industry sector and their daily business and operational requirements,” explained Speller.

Speller explained that SIMATIC IT Preactor AS Professional is more operation based than the Standard solution. “Users have the ability to

Lean manufacturing

start using some of the more complex

Most manufacturers are under pressure to

resource-based scheduling rules that used

reduce costs while producing more, in shorter

only to be available at APS level,” he said. “In

delivery times. All this has to be accomplished

speeds on different resources, use sequence

this way, users can now benefit from parallel

without an accurate indication of future

dependent changeover times based on

loading and preferred sequence rules in order

demand and with lower inventories. “By

operation attributes and allow overlaps and

to minimise set-up times. SIMATIC IT Preactor

connecting SIMATIC IT Preactor planning &

slack time between operations.

AS Professional also works on a resource

scheduling systems to their ERP and shop-

basis rather than undertaking one entire order

floor data collection, companies are able to

Speller points out that one of the key

at a time. Of course, due to the inherent

monitor the state of execution against plan

differentiators between of Preactor AS

flexibility of the system, any alternative

and put in place effective Lean operations,”

Standard and the higher level products is that

operational model can be quickly put in place

said Speller.

Preactor AS Standard works at order level.

as the user sees fit.”

“The scheduling rules that are supplied with it

The Siemens advantage

are all order-based, one-order-at-a time

Speller also spoke about the positive impact

rank the company’s order book and schedule

SIMATIC IT Preactor AS Ultimate

the whole order, including all of the operations

The top-of-the-range offering, SIMATIC IT

has had. “Since the Siemens acquisition in

– one at a time, backwards or forwards – in

Preactor AS Ultimate, includes a developer

June 2013, the investment in R&D has

accordance with the user’s scheduling

licence (SIMATIC IT Preactor Ultimate

become considerably greater, and this has

preferences. The material constraints

Access), which gives access to the full

enabled us to accelerate our development

functionality also works at an order level, so

flexibility that is possible with a Preactor

process, bringing more features to the market

the materials can be consumed at the

system. The database schema can be altered

more quickly. Our own already extensive

beginning of the order and the material

as required, including adding tables and

group of partners is also being extended

released at the end of the order.”

fields, and via the Preactor programming

further due to the strength of Siemens’

interfaces it is possible to create custom

worldwide partner network. We will

scheduling rules to solve specific scheduling

increasingly be able to share our own

SIMATIC IT Preactor AS Professional

problems and create custom data

technology development among the wider

manipulation tools for use with the Preactor

Siemens Group, while in turn being able to

SIMATIC IT Preactor AS Professional has a

workflow engine.

benefit from Siemens’ own developments. In

scheduling rules,” he said. “Therefore, it will

number of additional schedule optimisation

the acquisition by parent company Siemens

addition we’re now part of the Manufacturing

rules to deal with problems such as minimising

As the SIMATIC IT Preactor Ultimate Access

Operations Management (MOM) portfolio,

changeover times, preferred sequencing and

licence is a one-off purchase for a company,

which enables manufacturers to implement

campaigning. Composite rules can also be

included in the price of the first Preactor

their strategy for the complete seamless

built with Preactor’s workflow tool. At SIMATIC

Ultimate level system, this enables a cost

digitalization of manufacturing operations.”

IT Preactor AS Professional level the user is

effective multi-licensing programme for rolling

also able to implement customer specific rules

out Preactor systems across multiple sites or

The Siemens’ MOM portfolio encompasses

about how materials are consumed and

scheduling environments. Additionally, the

solutions to address: manufacturing execution

visualise their assembly process from raw

SIMATIC IT Preactor AS Ultimate Viewer has

systems, quality execution, SCADA and

materials through to finished goods and sales

been introduced to be linked to a Preactor AS

manufacturing intelligence with SIMATIC IT

orders in the Material Explorer. This shows a

Ultimate schedule.

Preactor APS providing an excellent

graphical view of the material dependencies

complement to the PLM/MOM software

as well as plots of stock levels over time. The

portfolio.

user can see where shortages will occur and

Vertical sector flexibility

choose to keep them as a constraint or ignore

The new products have been built to offer

In summary, Speller commented. “The

them. In addition to this, Preactor AS

maximum flexibility and customisability across

introduction of our new suite of products, our

professional can model advanced resource

all different vertical market sectors. “Bringing

well-established and growing partner

constraints, such as rules about concurrent

in much of the configurability to the UI means

network and the full support of Siemens

rule usage, and advanced inter-operation

operators can simply go into the system and

stands us in very good stead as a forward-

constraints including limits on the time

rename fields as required in order to ensure

looking company.” n

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SIMATIC IT Preactor is a world leading production planning and scheduling software used by a broad range of businesses globally. SIMATIC IT Preactor APS products are designed to work alongside and facilitate, rather than replace, existing systems. They can be tightly integrated with ERP, accounting and forecasting software, spreadsheets, MES and SFDC systems. Products from the Preactor APS range can be used

for long term strategic planning covering months and years ahead, medium term tactical planning with a few weeks planning horizon and for detailed sequencing and scheduling. SIMATIC IT Preactor APS is not a single point solution. It represents a family of products that have different levels of functionality and pricing so that you can select the system that satisfies both your needs and your budget.


SIMATIC IT Preactor APS Advanced Planning & Scheduling siemens.com/pr siemens.com/preactor eactor

SIMA ATIC T IIT Preactor APS is a highly customizable capacity planning and scheduling package. Event driven communication scripts can be installed for tight integration with other systems across multiple sites and unique sequencing rules can be created. Its flexibility is unparalleled.

Operations Management - MOM), which now includes: MES, EMI, quality management, planning and scheduling of workshops, automation and super vision. siemens.com/preactor

Siemens PLM Sof tware of fers an extensive por tfolio of solutions to link the product design phases (PLM) with industrial operations (Manufacturing

Realize innovation.


Supply Chain

Success story

Planning has become the cornerstone at G.H. Mumm .H. Mumm & Cie is the leading international champagne company in France and third in the world (IWSR 2012). Boasting a heritage dating back to 1827, with its recognisable red ribbon, a symbol of excellence, the G.H.Mumm Cordon Rouge blend – a perfect incarnation of the brand – stands apart due to the freshness and intensity of its oenological style, conserved and passed down from one generation to another by the Cellar Masters.

G

The challenge: complex and lengthy production process To really understand the needs and stakes of G.H.Mumm, one needs to understand the manufacturing process involving 8 million bottles of champagne. This represents a manufacturing cycle of between three and six months, with each step playing a decisive role in maintaining the quality of the champagne. “Ours is a living product, which continues to change as it ages,” explained G.H.Mumm’s planning and procurement MS manager, David Labrousse. “It requires vigilance because stabilisation and improvement are not always synonymous. Aging for too long can result in a loss of quality. It is no easy matter to find the ideal ‘just-in-time’ balance, but it is essential if we are to meet the high demands we set for our champagnes.”

decision at the right time. “We have to synchronise the various decisionmaking levels to harmonise our processes and remain consistent from one end of the product life cycle to the other,” said Labrousse. This was the main reason for selecting DynaSys Demand and Supply Chain Planning solutions: Demand Planning, Production Planning and Procurement Planning.

The solution: control and optimisation Whether it concerns the improvement of production resources, working times or inventory management, every detail is crucial for a luxury product like champagne. “In our field, responsiveness to customer demand is critical,” said Labrousse. “Having stock costs less than losing a customer.”

Control It requires anticipation and accurate information to reach the right decision. This is where DynaSys comes in, with its Demand & Supply Chain Planning solutions and its project teams, totally familiar with every aspect of the champagne world.

The DynaSys tools are efficient, enabling us to carry out rapid, detailed, accurate and reliable analysis which is – in a word – relevant.” – David Labrousse, G.H. Mumm & Cie.

This requires particularly accurate inventory management coupled with sufficiently refined and precise control of the entire supply chain in order to be proactive and make the right 48

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“The DynaSys tools are efficient, enabling us to carry out rapid, detailed, accurate and reliable analysis which is, in a word, relevant,” remarked Labrousse. “Since the solutions

offered by DynaSys are flexible, we quickly set them up to closely match our requirements, without wasting time and money on specific and costly development. We have not reinvented anything; we have just applied best practice.”

Optimisation Planning is at the heart of the company; a way of directing, validating and perfecting its multiple plans: • IBP (Industrial and Business Plan), focused

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Success story

• MPS (Master Production Scheduling) for managing working times, quality and customer service. This plan is calculated by the week for a period of 6 months, and at SKU level.

on capacity and investment, drawn up by the half year for 10 years, and at format level. • S&OP (Sales & Operations Planning) providing a budget approach, management of over/under capacities and optimisation of industrial tools as well as product life cycle management. This plan is drawn up by the month, for a period of 24 months, in a macro-format and using special SKUs (Stock Keeping Units).

The planning department, employing four people at G.H.Mumm, has a horizontal view of the entire process enabling it to quickly deal with issues, in agreement with management. Weekly planning enables the company to reach decisions according to the needs and analysis carried out using the DynaSys solutions. “Every week, we get a clear view of the four weeks to come,” explained Labrousse. “An issue regarding a late delivery of dry matter? or a manpower issue? an emergency? An earthquake somewhere in the world? – These things happen. Our management method is in step with reality. We are capable of providing company management as well as managers of the commercial, marketing, production, purchasing, technical departments with the information they need.” For instance, precise planning in this way enables the company to place amalgamated orders for its labelling requirements. The

Supply Chain

equation is simple: better knowledge of requirements + better visibility + better procurement control = less obsolescence and fewer orders. This has generated a direct gain in terms of a cost reduction of 17 per cent over three years.

The benefits: reduced inventory, costs and increased visibility • 15 per cent reduction in finished product inventory prior to shipping. • Maintained service level while reducing the longest lead-time from 14 to 6 weeks. • Better visibility of labelling procurements and product mix (amalgamated orders based on the largest quantity). • Reduction in emergency reordering – only 3 per year instead of 21 three years ago. • Stabilisation of the production plan to ensure better team and manufacturing tool management.

The future G.H. Mumm has already taken the first step: better control of its S&OP processes and the improvement of the match between strategic and operational planning. Or… “How to synchronise planning with the actual conditions in the field,” said Labrousse. “We have projects underway reviewing our working hours. What we want is to balance out the annual working hours for our employees, avoiding under-capacity and therefore sharing out the working times as best we can throughout the year. Optimising our capacity management will enable us to strengthen relations with our subcontractors, by involving them in our planning process. We also want to reduce the obsolescence of our limited editions. Currently obsolescence is only 1.8 per cent for regular products but is up to 12.5 per cent for our special products.” Labrousse concluded: “The implementation of DynaSys Demand & Supply Chain Planning solutions is not an end in itself; it is a decision support tool. These tools help us make our information more reliable but above all, they represent solutions opening new opportunities for us. We have to learn how to best utilise them.” n

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Unlock Supply Chain Potential

Sales & Operations Planning

To T o better analyse, pla plan, simulate and optimise your Supply Chain, you need a comprehensive, integrated and collaborative solution. A solution that aligns profitability. cross-functional priorities while increasing profitability. Experts in Demand & Supply Chain Planning solutions for over 30 years, DynaSys offers the DSCP suite, a solution that will optimise the strategic, tactical and operational levels of your extended Supply Chain. Benefit from our unique expertise in Supply Chain to help deliver strategy.. your organisational strategy

Sir Stanley Clarke House 7 Ridgeway Ridgeway,, Quinton Business Park Birmingham, B32 1AF +44 (0) 121 506 6500 www.dys.com www .dys.com / contact@dys.com

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Manufacturing and Logistics IT - October 2015  

The European magazine promoting the effective use of IT in supply chain applications

Manufacturing and Logistics IT - October 2015  

The European magazine promoting the effective use of IT in supply chain applications

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