Amscan, the party people, invest in Vocollect Voice to increase productivity and service
March 8, 2010
Amscan, the world’s leading designer, manufacturer and distributor of party products, has selected Voiteq to implement Vocollect Voice at their distribution centre in Milton Keynes to increase productivity and accuracy in their conveyor picking and stock taking operations. The implementation follows a successful six week trial, proving the benefits which should lead to a return on investment in 12 months.
Voiteq’s VoiceMan middleware solution will replace the paper based picking system previously used at Amscan for their conveyor picking operation. The orders to be fulfilled can be picked by one worker or split between a number of operatives. The despatch box moves along the conveyor and the operatives are directed via the voice unit to pick the items required for that order and place them into the box, confirming the quantity picked as they do so. The operative may complete a full tour of the conveyor area to complete the order, or they may pick in zones and hand part of the order over to a colleague to complete and take to the despatch area ready to be shipped to one of Amscan’s 40,000 retail customers.
Gerry O’Dell, [Director of Distribution & Logistics] at Amscan commented, “The flexibility that Voiteq has built into the system allows us to combine the way we want to work with industry best practice, rather than the system just dictating the operation. We needed the ability to see where the demand lies within each zone of the operation to enable us to make informed decisions on how best to deal with the pick demands. Once the decision has been made on whether or not to split the pick between operatives or for one operative to pick the whole order, we can control this by messaging, putting the supervisors in control.”
Amscan are looking forward to their first stock take using voice technology, this additional functionality will provide Amscan operatives with the ability to identify products in specific locations in the distribution centre using check digits, count the number in stock at that time and ‘speak’ the number of items via the device. The VoiceMan solution will then feed the stock count back to the incumbent warehouse management system (WMS). Amscan believe that voice will not only increase the speed and accuracy of the stock take, but will also be more user friendly for the operatives.
O’Dell concluded, “The partnership approach that Voiteq takes with their clients has really worked well for us. Working with them throughout the six week trial has enabled us to create a solution which meets our exact needs.”
The Voiteq solution, built using Vocollect Voice technology, comprises a wearable Voice computer running Vocollect’s Voice Client Voice recognition software attached to a securely fastened belt and headset worn by the employee. This enables interaction between the user and the WMS via VoiceMan middleware. Operatives can work completely hands and eyes free by receiving picking commands from the WMS, via the plug-in headset and the mobile Voice device; the system literally talks the operative through their task.
David Stanhope, Voiteq’s CEO commented “Most people will not appreciate just how many of their party items come from Amscan, they know their market and they service it very well. We are always pleased to work in partnership with customers who are looking for new ways of using voice technology to enable them to reap the benefits it brings in as many areas of the operation as possible. We believe Amscan’s use of voice directed stock taking is just one of many ways of using voice in areas other than ‘picking’, where it has already proven its worth.”
Gary Glessner, VP and managing director, Vocollect Europe said; “Voice-directed work is the perfect choice for a seasonal, high product range company such as Amscan. Interestingly, Amscan’s business model is to manufacture and distribute products in such away that it can pass major time and cost savings on to its customers. Vocollect Voice is proven to cut the time and cost of picking items for dispatch and therefore will complete the circle of manufacturing and distribution efficiency and cost benefits for Amscan’s, and for its customers.”