With skyrocketing e-commerce purchases driving the need for faster order fulfillment, companies are enhancing their distribution centers with new hardware and software to improve accuracy, meet demand and provide real-time feedback on the state of their operations.
At 27 of its own facilities worldwide, Honeywell is implementing the same voice technology that has helped companies such as Pep Boys, Fox Racing and Sony of Canada, Ltd., save millions of dollars by increasing accuracy, productivity and speed while reducing training times.
With traditional paper-based forms and processes for picking and receiving becoming a thing of the past, businesses are implementing voice-directed and data capture technology, such as the Honeywell VocollectTM voice solution. In fact, a Honeywell survey showed that 9-in-10 distribution centers plan to incorporate voice technology over the next five years.
The Vocollect software captures workers’ voice commands via headsets and sends them to a warehouse management system for integrated and automated order tracking. This eliminates the need for manual data entry and lookup and frees up the mobile worker’s hands and eyes. At the same time, operations managers can access a direct line to the worker performance data flowing through the warehouse.
This is helping bring to life the fourth industrial revolution, in which digital technologies connect workers and machines to enhance operations.
With Vocollect voice technology supporting nearly 1 million distribution center workers worldwide, the technology has helped businesses, including Honeywell facilities, achieve productivity gains of up to 35 percent, while reducing errors by up to 50 percent.
With such powerful benefits and savings, it’s no wonder Honeywell is implementing the voice software and data capture technology in its own facilities to enable real-time process improvements by analyzing worker performance data.
“Just as our customers are using Vocollect to improve their operations, Honeywell is committed to leveraging our own solutions across the company to improve productivity, accuracy and customer service,” said Jay Armant, general manager, Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions. “As we continue implementing voice technology in our facilities around the world, we are achieving cost savings for the company while also evaluating areas where we can continue to enhance our offering. By implementing Vocollect internally, we are driving awareness of these solutions to our customers, especially in regions where we see opportunities for growth.”
Here are a few examples of how Honeywell has benefited from its own technology:
Honeywell Fort Mill, South Carolina Repair Center
Honeywell’s Fort Mill, S.C. repair center, which is responsible for servicing mobile computers for a large parcel service provider, needed new technology to help streamline the order-picking process for workers. Historically, repair was a time- and labor-intensive process as workers spent time calling up information on handheld devices, taking pictures of parts and print labels, walking back and forth from their desks to bins in the picking area and then waiting for information from the back inventory room.
Since implementing Vocollect, workers can walk freely around the pick area, no longer encumbered by paper or handheld devices. Hands-free operations also increased awareness and safety throughout the facility. The facility experienced a 50 percent increase in productivity with zero errors, while the average time to pick multiple parts for one order decreased from more than six minutes to just three minutes.
Honeywell Suzhou, China Production Facility
It took just six months after implementing Vocollect technology in January 2015 for Honeywell’s Suzhou production facility near Shanghai to realize its return on its investment. Workers, who had previously used manual processes to locate and pick parts in the warehouse, increased productivity by 25 percent (from picking 50 items per hour per worker to 80 items per hour). As the voice-directed software guided workers to the right location, errors decreased as item-picking accuracy improved by 100 percent.
Honeywell Sevrey, France Distribution Center
This 350,000-square-foot facility, which distributes Honeywell safety products to wholesalers and retailers in Europe, gained access to real-time worker performance data. The operations team was able to shift item-picking workers to other areas, which led to significant cost savings. When temporary staff was brought in during peak times, the Vocollect solution reduced worker training times from days to just 30 minutes.
Honeywell Helsby, UK Distribution Center
See how a Honeywell distribution center in the UK successfully implemented the Honeywell Vocollect voice solution to achieve a 19 percent increase in productivity.