Alma Alpinex Inc. is the leading distributor of food products in Świętokrzyskie county. The company was established in 1999 as a result of a fusion of the biggest distributers in Świętokrzyskie county: PW ‘Alma’ CLP and A.H.U ‘Alpinex’ CLP. Activity of the company is based on selling products from the leading producers of food and beverages operating in Poland. The company, planning to establish a modern distribution centre in Piekoszów, was looking for an efficient solution for order picking. The choice was ‘pick by voice’, based on ibcsVoice system from IBCS Poland and Vocollect equipment.
The need to enter higher level
The newly built centre in Piekoszów has overtaken functions of previous warehouses localized in Kielce and Zagnańsk. In order to provide the highest efficiency in new warehouse, the company decided to implement modern solutions for packaging. The audit conducted by IBCS Poland in Alma Alpinex Warehouse showed that the previous order picking system, based only on barcode scanners, does not guarantee full service of orders during etc. ‘seasonal peaks’ connected with distribution of beverages. Order picking process was executed with vehicle-mounted terminals equipped with barcode scanners, on which the output of warehouse managing application is run.
“In practice, it meant that one operator executed one task at a given moment, which was then serviced by one collector. The positions to be collected in the warehouse were listed according to order picking path. The solution, despite working properly, did not guarantee servicing all orders in the moments of increased traffic in the warehouse.” – says Rafał Kędzior, IT Manager in Alma Alpinex.
The solution proposed by IBCS Poland assumes the use of ibcsVoice system based on Talkman A500 and A700 terminals by Vocollect, co-operating with SR-20 cable headsets and cordless SRX2 headsets. The unit is coupled with the already operating WMS.
The first step is assigning task by the manager and collecting it by the worker. Next, voice system leads the operated to proper location that he verifies with a control number and confirms the quantity of collected goods. The cycle is repeated until the order is finished and the loaded palette is set in the dispatch zone and labeled with information on content and receiver’s data.
The implementation was divided into two stages. The first one (pilot testing) lasted two months and planned the use of two voice terminals. After receiving positive results, the number of devices was increased to nine, and during incoming months, the number of Talkman terminals in distribution centre in Piekoszów will rise to 30.
“Alma Alpinex is an efficiently managed enterprise, open to new technologies. With the help of pilot testing, we managed to get the Board of Directors interested in warehouse processes optimization through voice system. The pilot test included two identical order pickings: one with help of barcode scanner previously used in the company, the other with voice terminal with headset. The time of order picking with ibcsVoice was shorter than the one with scanner method, and, what is more, the worker was using voice system for the first time, and such a great result was achieved after only 20 minutes of training.” – says Łukasz Iwanczewski, Vice-President of IBCS Poland.
Visible and audible improvement
It was already on the stage of pilot implementation of ibcsVoice that Alma Alpinex, while analyzing rates, observed noticeable increase of efficiency in order picking process. The system does not only provide full service of dispatch in the season peaks period during summer, but also led to increase of productivity, keeping the error level on minimum at the same time. Additionally, it increases workers’ safety through order picking device that lets hands free, does not distract attention and lowers operational costs connected with use of paper and decreasing systems’ failure frequency.
“In the near future we plan to expand the system from application level to the possibility of scanning codes on protective seals on containers. This is possible thanks to use of Talkman A730 terminals, equipped with barcode scanners that allow to verify seals protecting transport containers for high-value products.” – adds Rafał Kędzior, IT Manager in Alma Alpinex.