Beverage Distributor Replaces Legacy Voice System, Boosts DC Productivity and On-time Performance

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Challenge

Replace a Vocollect voice-picking system to improve efficiency and accuracy in two beverage DCs.

Summary

A US regional beverage distributor recently installed the Lucas solution to replace Vocollect voice picking hardware and software. The Lucas solution includes unique AI-based optimization that is embodied in Jennifer™, the brains, voice and orchestration engine of the solution. Additionally, the solution includes multi-modal voice-directed applications on rugged, affordable android devices and a management console. Lucas helped improved productivity, efficiency and accuracy in the company’s two DCs.

Situation

A growing, family-owned beverage distributor in the Eastern US was using a Vocollect voice-directed picking system in one of its two DCs, but their other, smaller DC was battling to keep pace with rising orders due to an outdated paper based order selection process. Overtime costs were increasing and they were struggling to get trucks out on time in the second facility. The Vocollect voice system had improved productivity in their larger DC, but the high cost for installing that system in the second DC was difficult to justify. In addition, the five-year old Vocollect hardware was running a legacy Windows operating system that was nearing its end of support date, meaning the devices would no longer receive security patches.

The operations team was looking for alternative solutions that could provide a better overall ROI through productivity increases and other operational gains, along with a lower per-user cost. The VP of Operations approached Lucas to understand how the Lucas voice-directed optimization solution compared to their voice picking system running on expensive, proprietary Vocollect hardware.

The Lucas Solution

In a series of on-site discussions, the Lucas team identified several process enhancements that Lucas could provide that were not available in the distributor’s current WMS or voice solution. In particular, the Lucas management console includes asset tracking and pallet-building capabilities that would save time and money without adding to the cost of the solution. Additionally, managers would be provided with real-time reporting tools that would drive additional operational improvements in both DCs.

The Lucas multi-modal mobile applications also offered distinct advantages over their current voice-only applications:

  • Lucas runs on Android hardware devices (smartphones, tablets or RF terminals), which allowed the distributor to replace proprietary voice terminals
    and eliminate the risk of using an out of support Windows OS.
  • Lucas’ adaptive speech recognition technology reduces employee training time to 3-5 minutes and eliminates concerns about accents and other speech
    challenges in a multi-lingual workforce.
  • Lucas provides on-screen training, user tips and a more secure, intuitive log in process than voice-only systems. The smartphone screen also provides additional diagnostics and alerts for users and IT support staff. The screen can also be disabled or turned off to eliminate distractions.

“The Lucas solution has transformed operations and added a range of new management and mobile work capabilities that make us more efficient and effective than ever before.”

Results

The Lucas solution was installed in the smaller DC and immediately improved selector productivity. “It wasn’t unusual for us to complete picking orders by 2 pm, but with the Lucas solution our team is typically done by 6 am,” reports the VP of Distribution. “We have practically eliminated overtime and improved customer service and accuracy.”

Based on those results, the company then installed the Lucas system in the larger DC, which had been using Vocollect voice for five years. The changeover was a nonevent for users. “In less than 20 minutes a user could switch over to the Lucas mobile application.” The implementation time for installing the Lucas solution in two DCs was half the time it took to install the original Vocollect system in a single site.

“The Lucas solution has transformed operations and added a range of new management and mobile work capabilities that make us more efficient and effective than ever before,” says the VP of Operations.