As part of its drive to improve customer service, Aliaxis has invested £150,000 in an automated voice picking system within its warehouses, which has significantly modernised order fulfilment.
The computer-based system has been designed to improve accuracy by building quality checks into each step of the order delivery process – and this full visibility across the entire fulfilment journey means errors have been substantially reduced.
Tom Hamlyn, Logistics Manager at Aliaxis, said: “Following feedback that some customers were receiving inaccurate deliveries, we decided that a fully automated system was the most astute way to improve our service.
“Along with a new electronic labelling system, which applies an individual barcode to each package so it can be tracked from start to finish, the voice picking system has noticeably streamlined processes in the warehouse. Since we began trialling the system in January, we have seen big improvements in the number of delivery errors and have had an excellent response from our key customers.”
Replacing the previous paper trail method, the voice picking system provides instructions to warehouse operatives through headsets, asking them to check off information using a barcode scanner. Each product has a unique location identifier, which allows both the warehouse operatives and delivery drivers to quickly check that all products have been correctly picked and loaded.
As a complex business with multiple product lines, Aliaxis knew that an off-the-shelf package would not fit the company’s needs, so Tom worked closely with supplier BEC Systems Integration to develop a bespoke software suite that is specifically tuned to requirements.
Andrew Briggs, Technical Director at BEC Systems Integration, said: “Voice picking is an excellent tool for improving accuracy, as it focuses the warehouse picker on the product they’re handling at that moment. They are required to check it off at the point of packing, which pushes them to capture and validate that they’re selecting the correct item.
“To ensure that we created a robust and productive system for Aliaxis, we did extensive mapping of the fulfilment process, including a detailed ‘walk-through’ of the distribution centre. By developing the software in partnership with the real warehouse operatives, we were able to find out exactly what’s happening ‘out on the floor’ and put solutions in place to eradicate any bottlenecks or other issues.”
Following a stepped introduction, the voice picking system is now fully operational and the company is working on Phase 2, which will introduce additional functionality to track packages as they are delivered and capture customer receipt signatures.