Speaking out pays double dividends

Double-digit productivity gains and greater accuracy are just two of the beneficial results of using a “voice solution”, according to Vocollect and one of its partners in Ireland, Heavey RF.

The claims come after Heavey RF fitted Vocollect Voice in the Fonthill depot of Glanbia – the large multi-national dairy and nutritional group with 14 wholesale and 140-plus retail customers.

Bur rather than using the technology just for picking, (the most common application), Glanbia also uses it for receiving, replenishment, cycle counting and loading workflows.

According to Glanbia’s supply chain manager John Mee, using voice across multiple workflow tasks has addressed many business challenges – credit claims have reduced by 45%, costs lowered and customer service improved.

Key improvements according to Glanbia are: faster receiving, including less time spent on paperwork proving that goods have arrived at the warehouse; speedier truck-loading and loading-out – before the voice rollout, Fonthill was limited to processing 160 cases per hour. Today a continuous flow of goods moves through the warehouse, with an output of 260 cases per hour; and improved staff morale, union relations and lower rates of absenteeism (inevitably the new technology led to a reduction in staff numbers, but these were solved via voluntary rather than compulsory redundancies).

“Beyond the considerable bottom-line impact of improved labour management and better work processes, the greatest benefit has been increased credibility with customers,” says Mee. “Today we can quickly produce records of a customer’s order whenever a question arises.”

And Glanbia depot manager Don Gyves says he is delighted with the results: “Planning and implementation went smoothly, the launch was trouble-free, there were no compatibility problems with our existing SAP warehouse management system and we started seeing benefits almost immediately.

“There was an additional benefit we weren’t expecting – the radio tech helped us with traceability, thus significantly reducing ‘short delivery’ claims from customers.”

Fonthill’s overall investment in voice technology was €470,000 and Gyves says it paid for itself within nine months.


Fonthill depot manager Don Gyves says that since installing the Vocollect Voice system:

  • Pick error rates have dropped to 0.06%
  • Picking productivity has more than doubled (up 118%) – pick rates are currently running at an average of 2,837 per hour
  • Across all staff, picking speeds are between five and 15% faster;
  • Stock losses have halved to €427 per week
  • The cost of picking orders has fallen by 11%;
  • Labour costs have fallen by 6%;
  • Credit claims have been almost halved.

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