Press Releases / Lucas Celebrates 10 Years Of Bucket Brigade Voice Picking

Aug 18, 2011

Lucas Celebrates 10 Years Of Bucket Brigade Voice Picking

More Than 50 DCs in North America Use Lucas Move Featuring Jennifer for Pick-and-Pass Style Order Fulfillment, Including Advanced Multi-Order Picking

Lucas Systems, Inc.,the largest independent provider of voice-directed warehouse applications, is celebrating the tenth anniversary of the first Lucas bucket-brigade voice picking system at Republic National Distributing Company’s Deerfield Beach, Florida distribution center. Today more than 50 DCs are using Lucas mobile voice-directed bucket brigades, in wine and spirits, publishing, convenience stores and retail. The latest version of Lucas Move supports advanced multi-order bucket-brigade picking which further enhances flexibility and productivity, especially in high-density retail operations.

“We recognized long ago that voice was an ideal technology fit for our pick-and-pass bottle picking process, but voice was unproven in this type of operation,” said Stefan Kirshenbaum, Corporate Vice President of Operations Systems and Services at Republic National Distributing Company. “Since those early days we have worked closely with Lucas to optimize our customer order picking process for our DCs, extend voice to other processes, and to take advantage of the many advances in speech and mobile computing technology. Over the last decade our average ‘bottle’ picking productivity rates have more than tripled. Our pre-voice pick rates were approximately 3 bottle picks per minutes, and today our top performing employees pick more than 9 bottles per minute, as we have rolled out to other RNDC distribution centers the latest generation of Lucas voice directed picking software, including the Speedometer productivity management tool.”

In bucket-brigade picking, workers pick items into totes or cartons and pass the work along to subsequent workers in a pick module. When the worker at the end of the line finishes a carton he walks back up the line to get the next carton in process, forcing the upstream worker to move to the next carton in line, and so on. The effect is that work is automatically balanced among the workers in the module – there are no bottlenecks or production lags and every worker always has work. Move also supports multi-order bucket brigades in which several customer totes are batched together in a train, so that the picker can reach into each slot once to fill multiple orders. Multi-order picking drives incremental productivity gains above standard, single-order bucket brigades. (For a fuller description of voice picking bucket brigades, including a video from a wine and spirits DC, see the latest entry on the Lucas blog.)

“Bucket-brigade style picking is one of the early process innovations that helped voice technology migrate from traditional each- and case-picking applications to high-velocity picking processes,” said Jeff Slevin, COO of Lucas Systems. “Since that time we’ve added a number of enhancements to push the productivity envelope even further, including the ability to batch orders in a train of cartons, which we first introduced more than 6 years ago. This is a good example of how creative process engineering can drive additional, incremental productivity gains for customers.”

About Lucas Systems, Inc.
Since 1998, Lucas Systems has pioneered warehouse productivity solutions for mobile workers and distribution center managers. Customers like Cardinal Health, C&S Wholesale Grocers, HD Supply, Office Depot/OfficeMax, Mondelez, Kraft and Rust-Oleum trust Lucas to deliver solutions that greatly improve worker productivity and accuracy because Lucas truly understands warehouse operations. Lucas Mobile Work Execution solutions optimize hands-on processes and seamlessly combine voice, barcode scanning, and other mobile technologies to improve worker productivity, eliminate errors, and boost end-to-end DC efficiency. The solutions also provide managers and supervisors with real-time reporting and management tools that help them better manage their operations. 

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