Saturday 22nd Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

Productivity up by more than a third

VoiteQ, the software supplier of voice recognition applications for warehouse and distribution companies has completed the £300,000 implementation to supply Pets at Home with its Talkman T2 product. The system, used in conjunction with a Swisslog warehouse management system (WMS), is used by up to 150 pickers daily at Pets at Home’s Stoke-on-Trent distribution centre.

Since implementation began productivity has increased by 40% and picking accuracy rates have risen to 99.9%.

With a turnover of £300M a year, Pets at Home is one of the largest pets and pet accessories retailers in the UK and is rapidly expanding. The warehouse provides pet accessories ranging from pet food and dog leads to beds and hutches to all 163 of the company’s superstores.

Pets at Home needed a new warehouse picking system to give the scalability to expand the business whilst increasing efficiency. Simon Hayward, warehouse management systems and project manager, says: “The Talkman system has had an instant impact on the productivity of our warehouse, increasing it by up to 40%. We have also had a very positive response back from the pickers – because the instructions are read to them and received through the ear piece it is very easy to use which has lead to an improvement in concentration and efficiency. Picking errors have almost disappeared with 99.9 % efficiency being achieved.”

Once a picker has located and picked the product in the warehouse they respond via the mouthpiece. The device recognises voice patterns and sounds so it can recognise any language or dialect. The response then automatically ensures that stock records in the central WMS, are updated instantly.

Hayward says: “There are a number of accents spoken in the warehouse but the Talkman system is able to recognise all of them, so no-one is disadvantaged by using it. We have also found it very reliable. Before Talkman we tried to implement a Nuance voice technology system but found that that the technology was too unreliable. It did not have a sophisticated enough voice recognition function and could not recognise all the accents or provide an on the job training function. We generally find that new employees can be up and running and picking at full speed within just an hour or two. Previously it could take a whole day to train new staff.”

He continues: “Talkman is proving to be invaluable to our business and the level of service we have received from VoiteQ has been excellent. Our next stage of development will be to equip the entire distribution centre with Talkman; this will include our stock control staff and around 20 fork lift truck drivers. Pets at Home are rapidly expanding and we expect the number of UK superstores to increase to 250 by 2009. I have no reservations that