27 Oct Packing & Loading: The Final Opportunities for Mistakes to Occur
Automated multimodal solutions, including voice, scanning, vision and image/video capture, have helped distribution center operations significantly increase speed and accuracy. When deployed along every workflow in a distribution center, multimodal technologies enable workers to perform at levels of efficiency previously unheard of, allowing product to move faster through the distribution center.
Packing and loading is the last step of that process as inventory moves out of the distribution center and your customer gets the right order – on time.
Objectives for packing and loading include the use of product-specific instructions, avoidance of packing errors, the option to capture high-cost items through video/images to reduce liability and a final pre-shipping QC check.
Different companies require different capabilities. Multimodal technology allows a company to choose the right technology to optimize the human worker to complete their specific tasks efficiently and accurately. Augmented Reality (AR) applications perform very well in the packing workflow as it provides a visual aid for the packers or displays a video to follow to minimize mistakes.
For one of its retail customers, Voxware deployed an augmented reality (AR) application to automate the process for its workers and featured more than 200 unique packing instructions.
The companies worked together to digitize all the packing instructions for each end-customer served (store fulfillment/direct to consumer). The process began with the worker scanning the order at the pack station. From there, the specific packing instructions appear on a screen at the station matching the order with the customer packing instructions. The worker remains hands-free and confirms the actions of each step of the instructions by voice, so the order is packed accurately. When appropriate, the worker can also capture an image of the shipment and store the record.
Similar to the above example, but a different type of business, Voxware worked with an eCommerce 3PL company that provided fulfillment for nearly 25 different brands.
When an online shopper completed their order with the brand, an order would be sent to the 3PL fulfillment center. From there, the 3PL would pick the order and leave it with the packing station. The packer would then view the packing instructions from that particular brand and complete the order for shipment. With 25 unique packing instructions from each brand, it was critical for the 3PL to not make mistakes.
One grocery store customer that Voxware supports has implemented a unique loading process where the company views the end of the picking process as the starting point of the loading process. Each pallet has a distinct identifier that the loader scans in the staging area. The loader is told which truck the pallet should be loaded on, and where on that truck it should go. In doing so, the pickers don’t need to be dedicated to a specific truck, but rather can be assigned to pick for all trucks in response to demand.
Additionally, the system enables the loaders to record the opening temperature of the refrigerated truck at the start of the load and the closing temperature once the final pallet goes on. By capturing the temperature, it helps to manage any potential spoilage.
Prior to the drivers departing for delivery, they are given a photo of the contents of the truck that shows every pallet and its position on the truck as well as the pallet ID numbers with the store name and address for where they are to be delivered. It’s another checkpoint to ensure an expedited and mistake-free delivery process by eliminating any guess work from the driver.
Packing and loading can be positively impacted by choosing a reliable multimodal technology. If you’re interested in learning more or want to see a product demo to better understand how Voxware solutions can make your job easier, contact us today to see how we can help.