03 Aug How Warehouse Automation Conquers Four Concerns in Distribution Centers
2021 Expected to Further Strain Supply Chains
With the exponential increase in customer demands, technological advancements and fierce competition, distribution and fulfillment centers are under heightened pressure to speed up order fulfillment and optimize their operations.
Let’s face it – we live in a society with a need for instant gratification and if a consumer orders something on Monday, they expect it to be on their doorstep Tuesday (and in some cases, later that same day).
However, not all distribution centers are as efficient as others. Outdated technology, inefficient processes and a struggle to fill warehouse worker positions plague many companies. While warehouse automation adoption is on the forefront of many supply chain leaders minds, cost remains a barrier for some.
Automation is Affordable
Take, for example, Voxware’s Voice Management Suite (VMS), which helps companies increase efficiency by more than 30 percent and improve accuracy to above 99.99 percent. Using Voxware VMS, warehouse operations realize immediate improvements in accuracy, double-digit productivity gains, reduced operating expenses and complete visibility across the entire distribution operation through supply chain analytics.
Companies that choose to upgrade to Voxware’s SaaS (Solution as a Service) subscription are able to deploy voice automation more easily and affordably throughout their distribution operations. Not only does the model reduce the upfront capital investment for new customers by 80 percent, but it also helps them set operating costs and stabilize the year-on-year budgeting process.
Do More with Less
It seems that the ongoing labor crunch is impacting organizations across all industries, however, distribution and fulfillment centers are particularly struggling to find workers. Given some of the benefits of voice automation talked about above, we know that voice allows companies to do more with less.
For one of Voxware’s customers, Anacapri Foods, the switch to voice automation helped them achieve their objectives. With growing order volumes at its 130,000-square-foot DC in Cranford, N.J., the company was looking for a way to automate, speed up order picking and reduce errors. Anacapri not only noticed a steady increase in productivity, but the company reported a 20 percent increase in volume without the need to hire a single new employee.
Additionally, some voice automation systems help temporary hires or new, full-time hires get working faster.
With VoxTempo, Voxware’s Natural Language Voice Recognition engine, training time can be completed in minutes, so new workers can strap on a headset and immediately begin issuing commands which the system will recognize, register and provide a response.
For Frontier Distributing, a mid-sized pet food and pet supplies distributor who serves nearly 700 Pet Specialty Retailers in the Midwest, VoxTempo delivered immediate results. For more than three years, Frontier has relied on Voxware’s software to optimize their warehouse workers.
As Jacob Smith, General Manager of Frontier points out, “With VoxTempo, we were able to get our employees productively working the very first day on the job. I believe that everyone wants to be productive and working and VoxTempo enables our workers to do that instantly.”
Transparency as a Necessity
Transparency has become a necessity, both internally and externally, as companies struggle to meet exceeding customer demands.
For Mark Duffy, CEO of Fond du Lac Cold Storage, a leading 3PL provider in the Northeast, transparency is critical for his business.
“When we talk about transparency for our customers, we’ve been very intentional about figuring out ways to give our customers line of sight into their business,” said Duffy. “That includes software so they know when an order has been delivered or scheduled for delivery. We’re supplementing that with additional automated technology that gives us product tracing capabilities so that when the product arrives at our warehouse, when it’s picked, when it’s pre-loaded and put onto the truck our customers will know,” he added.
For consumers, transparency is crucial.
According to the Voxware holiday 2020 reaction survey, consumers want more transparency from the brands with whom they shop, specifically those who are unable to meet promised delivery dates. 54 percent of those who had gift delivery delays in 2020 say it was extremely important that retailers continuously communicate the status of their delayed orders. Another 42 percent report it was important.
Errors Don’t Start with Pickers
A common disruption to picking proficiency is overlooking the steps preceding it. If receiving, put away and replenishment are executed improperly, inventory could be placed in incorrect locations. This lack of inventory accuracy will hinder picking efficiency and if not corrected prior to shipping will likely result in customer satisfaction issues.
As the first stage of inventory entering a distribution center, the importance of properly streamlining receiving cannot be understated. Utilizing automated multimodal solutions can ensure that receiving is performed correctly. Benefits include improved accuracy with voice as well as the ability to scan and image capture serial numbers (through Augmented Reality), measurements and notes.
Using multimodal technology in put away and replenishment allows distribution centers to prioritize tasks, batch multiple tasks, avoid shorts and skips, perform added verification for 100% accuracy and identify pallets or products.
By addressing the time spent getting the item to the correct location and the fact that it is inventoried correctly, the benefits put the picking process in the position for success.
Automation has become a necessity for success in today’s fast-paced world we live in. For a no-pressure consultation, contact Voxware to learn how warehouse automation can help you deliver a flawless customer experience all the time.