Voice-Picking Speeds Picking in Grocery Warehouses

This case history about Tuko Logistics (Finland), comes courtesy of Industri-Matematik. It has been selected and edited by the MHM editorial staff for clarity, content and style.

Tuko Logistics, a leading Finnish wholesaler of groceries and other household products, has upgraded its warehouse system with a new version of Industri-Matematik's ( Atlanta) IMI Warehouse. The new system was deployed in April 2005 in Tuko's largest warehouse operation in Kerava, just north of Helsinki. Tuko's solution is the largest and most extensive solution using voice-direction deployed within the grocery wholesale business in the Nordics.

Inventory handlers in the Kerava warehouse are equipped with a Talkman terminal device, including a wireless headset. Today, instead of reading printouts, the inventory handlers receive voice instructions to guide them through the optimal route to collect the required goods in the nearly 625,000 square foot warehouse. With the new system, Tuko has been able to eliminate most paper lists and stickers, and inventory handlers can use both hands in actual work and in maneuvering their warehouse forklifts. This has resulted not only in a major increase in productivity and much fewer collection errors, but also in improved safety for inventory handlers.

Shared Benefits

Tuko's warehouse in Kerava, Finland, serves 1,000 retail outlets on a daily basis, representing Wihuri Oy, Stockmann Oyj, and the Spar-chain, all with stores across the country. These and other Tuko customers benefit from the new system both in the form of few collection errors and reliable delivery documentation. Today, instead of collection lists that merely repeat the original order, the store receives a list with the inventory handlers' verification of what he or she has included in the delivery, which facilitates the ability of the store to confirm the accuracy of the delivery.

In Tuko's warehouse, the difference made by the new system has been exemplified through not only a visibly different inventory management method through the voice technology, but also in higher productivity for its inventory handlers. Tuko first started using IMI Warehouse in 1997, and based upon this long-term experience, Tuko has high expectations with respect to the ROI this investment will generate in the future.

"The implementation process has been quite smooth considering the immensity of it all. And what is best, is that we know now that we made a financially sound decision with implementing this new system," says Peter Klenberg, responsible for IT and business development at Tuko Logistics.

"The improvement in collection speed is a fairly important factor in managing the cost structure in an ever more competitive environment," continues Klenberg. "As a bonus, we save a great deal in costs by eliminating the enormous volume of paper and stickers we were consuming on a daily basis."

MHMonline.com welcomes relevant, exclusive case histories that explain in specific detail the business benefits that new software and material-handling equipment has provided to specific users. Send submissions to Lisa Kempfer ([email protected]), MHM managing editor. All submissions will be edited for clarity, content and style.

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