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    Affiliated Foods Optimizes Warehouse Ops With Voice Technology

    Regional wholesaler Affiliated Foods has boosted productivity, order accuracy and service levels through multiple applications of a voice-enabled warehouse solution it installed five years ago.

    Regional wholesaler Affiliated Foods has boosted productivity, order accuracy and service levels through multiple applications of a voice-enabled warehouse solution it installed five years ago.

    The wholesaler is using Pittsburgh-based Vocollect, Inc.’s industrial wearable solutions in its warehouse operations. “We’ve been using Vocollect’s industrial wearable solution in our warehouse operations for five years for selection, letdown, put-away and receiving, and we’ve experienced growth and success,” said Michael Lindley, director of IT with Amarillo, Texas-based Affiliated. “Vocollect’s vision of the voice-enabled warehouse as the starting point for workflow planning makes total sense.”

    Affiliated serves more than 840 grocery, convenience stores, and chains across seven states, and its 175 tractors haul grocery, produce, meats, bread, and dairy products from a 1.3 million-square-foot warehouse.

    “Vocollect has helped us address key business issues in all phases of our warehouse operation,” added Lindley. “With the old paper/label method of doing selection, we had more congestion in the aisles, more damaged product and more accidents. Our retailers tell us that, with the Vocollect system, they have better accuracy of orders, less damage and more on-time deliveries.”

    Among the results the Affiliated has experienced to date:

    —Productivity: Moved from three shifts to two
    —Accuracy:Increased from low 90s to 98-plus
    —Safety: Reduced aisle congestion
    —Training time: Reduced from four days to a matter of hours
    —Worker satisfaction
    —Customer satisfaction
    —Strong increased profitability
    —ROI: With the implementation done in four phases, ROI was reached in seven months on the first phase, and in a much shorter timeframe with the remaining phases

    “With Vocollect, our accuracy is better, our service level is better, our employee turnover is down, and the employees are happier,” said Affiliated’s CFO Tammie Coffee.

    Vocollect’s VoiceWorld Suite integrates with all major WMS and ERP systems, including solutions from SAP AG, and supports the industry’s leading mobile computing devices. Its integrated industrial wearable voice solution is based on the combination of the Talkman T2x, T5 or T5m wearable voice appliance, SR or SRX series headsets, and a suite of supporting software.

    The systems newest capabilities include:

    —Regional expansion via VoiceClient 3.7: Extensions to Vocollect’s speech recognition and language functionality aid multi-lingual distribution environments and multi-country deployments. New language support includes Romanian, Slovak, Cantonese, Czech, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Mandarin for PRC, Mandarin for Taiwan, Turkish and Thai, along with enhancements to many other supported languages. This brings the total languages that Vocollect currently supports to 36

    —Additional operations productivity and IT flexibility via VoiceConsole 3.2: Enhancements include a database-free version along with expanded platform support to give IT practitioners more options in the implementation of voice and device management in the DC/warehouse. Additionally, a new battery asset capability helps to optimize and extend the life of device batteries by noting changes on an information display, enabling supervisors to quickly weed out aging, underperforming batteries

    —Additional headset options via the new SL-14 headset: This new, light, behind-the-head headset is for users seeking a solution in high/seasonal turnover and less industrialized (non-freezer/less rugged) environments. The new headset features strong ergonomic benefits, with a lightweight and flexible design to accommodate diverse working styles
     

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