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Retail Technology, Retail technology News

Accord voice technology speaks volumes at BWG Foods

Monday December 19 2011

Following a £250,000 investment in BCP’s voice-directed warehouse management system (WMS), leading Irish wholesale and retail company BWG Foods is realising performance benefits across its business with improved operational efficiency and, in turn, a more accurate service to customers

Following a £250,000 investment in BCP’s voice-directed warehouse management system (WMS), leading Irish wholesale and retail company BWG Foods is realising performance benefits across its business with improved operational efficiency and, in turn, a more accurate service to customers

 

BWG Foods operates some of Ireland’s foremost retail and wholesale brands including more than 900 SPAR, EUROSPAR, MACE and XL symbol stores, a chain of 22 Value Centre cash and carry outlets, BWG Foodservice and the Xpress Stop retail brand.

 

The decision to implement voice technology followed a comprehensive review of new technologies as part of a plan to upgrade and expand BWG’s wholesale operations and improve both business performance and customer service. Key objectives included improved accuracy and productivity, the tracking of key processes and stock movements and a reduction in the costs associated with stock holding and manpower.

 

BCP’s Accord Voice WMS was selected following an extensive review of offerings on the market. Veronica Sullivan, head of IT at BWG Foods, said: “Accord emerged as the best fit for our business given it is a fully integrated solution capable of covering the complete range of our warehouse activities.”

 

Consolidating divisional fulfilment

 

Voice was initially implemented in BWG Foods’ wholesale division where, a new purpose-built depot at North Road in Dublin provided the opportunity to deploy Voice WMS from the outset. The 52,000-square-foot facility brought together Value Centre Cash & Carry and BWG Foodservice in the same building for the first time to deliver maximum synergies for the two divisions and provide both walk-in and delivered capabilities for customers.

 

The system deployed encompasses BCP’s complete Accord Voice Directed WMS, operating with Vocollect’s Talkman T5 terminals and a Motorola radio frequency (RF) network, both supplied through Irish specialist, Heavey RF.

 

BCP worked closely with the BWG Foods in-house IT team, Heavey RF and building contractors to implement the system efficiently and have operators fully trained and ready to start as each phase of the system came on line.

 

Given voice technology has been used from inception, comparisons with paper-based operations are not possible. However, BWG Foods is delighted with how the new Voice implementation is performing and the business benefits it is delivering. “It’s exceeded everyone’s expectations,” Sullivan reported “and feedback from customers has also been very positive, particularly around the accuracy of deliveries”. Picking is virtually error free, with order fulfilment running at 99%.

 

Real-time information from the system is giving the business full visibility and an accurate audit trail across all aspects of the warehouse operation. Tracking live stock levels greatly improves the replenishment and ordering processes and, Sullivan added: “The net result is that it is allowing us to reduce the amount of money we have tied up in stock.”

 

Efficient use of warehouse space

 

“Warehouse utilisation is excellent,” added Adrienne McDonnell, BWG Foods IT project manager for the implementation. “The system helps us utilise the warehouse space in the most efficient and effective manner. We know immediately when a picking slot needs replenishment and exactly where that replenishment should come from so we can optimise operations.”

 

Since the BCP implementation at the North Road site, BWG Foods has fully utilised voice stock-taking functionality with its speed, efficiency and ability to produce stock variances and other key information in real time being a significant plus.

 

With Accord Voice WMS proving so successful, BWG Foods has rolled out the same solution at its retail distribution centre in Walkinstown and is now looking to take advantage of other functionality available with the system at both facilities.

 

Veronica Sullivan concluded: “The paper-based systems were unable to offer the same level of flexibility and functionality as the Accord Voice WMS, which we require to meet the company’s requirements for growth and expansion. The technology is proving itself as we extend its use and the management team is delighted with the speed, efficiency and real time visibility of key information it’s delivering.”