Foodservice distributor BAKO NW is realising major performance improvements and savings of more than £75,000 p.a. following investment in Accord® Voice Directed warehouse technology from supply chain software and warehouse management systems specialist BCP (Business Computer Projects Ltd).
BAKO NW is a co-operative owed by its bakery trade members and one of five BAKO organisations which together constitute one of the UK’s largest nationwide distributors to the food industry. The company specialises in the supply of ingredients and other food produce to bakery operations across NW England, the Midlands and North Wales, using its own fleet of modern, multi-temperature vehicles to delivery chilled, ambient and frozen products in the same delivery.
Investment in Voice was prompted by BAKO NW’s ever-expanding customer base which now ranges from traditional bakeries to new companies supplying the convenience sector, and its commitment to ensuring its advanced warehousing operation functions as efficiently as possible in order to offer customers optimal customer service
BCP was chosen because of the close functional fit of its Voice warehouse solution to BAKO NW’s specific requirements and the acknowledged success of the system at other distributors, including NW SPAR wholesaler James Hall & Son Ltd.
The investment covers BCP’s complete suite of Accord® Voice warehouse modules, including stock taking, goods receiving, pallet movements and picking, operating with Vocollect Talkman 5 Voice hardware.
The Voice system has been interfaced directly to the company’s incumbent warehouse management system which was previously totally paper based. It has been implemented in a series of phases starting with Goods Inward, followed by Picking, Put-Away and Replenishment and finally Perpetual Inventory where the use of Voice allows stock checking to be carried out in real-time without disruption to other warehouse operations. The Picking, Put-Away and Replenishment stage was itself phased in gradually, starting with the frozen goods department, then chilled and, finally, ambient, the largest of the three departments
Accord® Voice is now operational across all warehouse activities, transforming BAKO NW’s warehouse facility from a predominantly paper-based operation to one completely based on Voice and delivering significant benefits across all operations.
Benefits started to materialise as soon as the system was implemented in Goods Inward with faster, more efficient handling of deliveries resulting in savings of 2½ man-days’ effort per week in goods receiving administration. The use of Voice to check all relevant aspects of the delivery and update the main warehouse system in real time has improved traceability and ensures that stock information on the system is accurate from the start, any discrepancies being identified and addressed immediately rather than filtering into the warehouse to cause problems later.
Picking accuracy has improved to 99.95% and order fulfilment to 99.5%, allowing the company to discontinue an expensive labour-intensive double-check system. The company conservatively estimates savings of £26,000 p.a. from reduction in mis-picks.
BAKO NW operates a single picking shift system with all pickers starting and finishing at the same time. Improvements in picking productivity have saved around an hour per day across all areas and 5 man-days’ effort per week as workers have benefitted from the hands-free, eyes-free nature of voice (increased concentration, simple voice confirmation of picking direct to the system, no interruptions to picking to collect new assignments) and more accurate, real-time information minimising the need for re-picks and time spent investigating stock discrepancies.
Administrative savings such as eliminating the need to manually confirm pick-slips to delivery notes, have delivered further manpower savings of around 6 hours per day, allowing administrative staff to be redeployed more productively.
After initial trepidation, the new technology has been readily adopted by warehouse workers, especially in the freezer department where the thick gloves operators must wear hamper the handling of labels and paper picking lists. Moreover, training which used to take about two weeks now only takes two hours meaning new workers can become productive much more quickly.
Sean Hobson, BAKO NW Logistics Manager: “BCP’s Voice solution has proved a superb fit to our requirements, quickly delivering the improvements we anticipated - around £50,000 p.a. in labour savings and over £26,000 p.a. from improved picking accuracy. What’s more, the workers all love it – from the supervisors to the lads on the shop floor. None would want to return to the old paper-based system.”