3 Ways to Optimize Your Food & Beverage Distribution Center

Posted by Speech Interface Design

Voice_Picking_in_Freezer.jpgCompetition in the food & beverage industry is stiff and margins are thin.  That’s why almost every retail grocer in North America has adopted a Vocollect voice-directed picking solution.  The solution, however, is not just for big companies.  Many small and midsize food & beverage manufacturers and distributors have adopted voice-directed work solutions to increase throughput, reduce labor and operating costs and optimize workflow efficiencies. 

1 - Increased Throughput

Increasing throughput is necessary to keep up with growing demand without increasing the size of your distribution center (DC).  But when you operate a food, dairy or beverage DC you not only have to keep up with the demands of physical distribution, you may also need to capture expiration dates and lot codes for traceability.   Voice-directed picking systems allow workers to pick with maximum speed while capturing such traceability information – by either speaking it or scanning it should it be barcoded.  (Vocollect’s Talkman wearable built-for-voice mobile computing device incorporates a built-in end cap scanner and also accommodates wireless Bluetooth back-of-hand or ring scanners.)

And, voice picking is the ideal solution for refrigerated and freezer environments.  The ‘hands-free and eyes-free’ benefits of voice picking are readily apparent when workers with cold or gloved hands no longer have to have to handle and interact with paper & pencil or the handle, screen & keys on an RF scanner device.

2 - Reduced Labor and Operating Costs

According to Food Logistics, the order picking function within distribution center uses more labor - between 40% and 60% of the total - than any other.  This is why voice-directed work solutions are most commonly applied initially to picking. 

Because a voice-directed worker does not need to interact paper & pencil or the handle, screen & keys on an RF device, all their physical motions are productive and their eyes and focus are able to remain on their picking task.  As a result, picking productive and accuracy are both increased and optimized.  The result: significant reductions in picking labor and operating costs.     

And, because voice systems guide workers step by step through their tasks, they are easy to use and easy to learn how to use.  New or temporary workers can be trained to pick with voice in just hours versus days with other methodologies.  The result: meaningful reductions in training labor and operating costs.    

3 - Optimized Workflow Efficiencies

One of the added benefits of implementing a voice-directed work solution is that it creates an opportunity for workflows to be examined so that bottlenecks and redundant or inefficient processes can be identified and addressed.  And, while picking is the workflow where most companies begin with voice, many companies have voice-enabled additional applications.  Some have gone “door to door” - from receiving to loading, and every major workflow in between - with voice. 

Voice-enabled distribution center workflows include: 

  • Picking
  • Put-to-store
  • Cycle-counting
  • Put-away
  • Replenishment
  • Transfers
  • Receiving
  • Loading

See voice-directed work in action here.   And, read how one dairy company is optimizing its distribution center performance by utilizing voice in multiple workflows. 

So, why wait?  Voice can be integrated with any host system – whether it be a basic order management system, ERP system or WMS to deliver the results described above.  Engage an expert total solution provider today to optimize your Food & Beverage distribution center operation with Vocollect voice.     New Call-to-action

Topics: voice picking