2011 Best In Supply Chain/Direct Store Delivery

— November 09, 2011

Goya’s Warehouse Crews Speak Easy

Voice-driven order-picking system improves warehouse operations for Goya Foods.

Goya Foods (Prince George, Va.), employs about 3,000 people and distributes Hispanic foods. In the past, Goya's warehouse operations relied on a paper-based system in which employees would manually record deliveries, stocking, picking and inventory loaded onto trucks, and then enter it on computer later on. “Our picking process was manual and paper-driven, with a lot of pauses in the process,” explains Luis Ramos, general manager. “As part of our overall warehouse management solution, we wanted a voice solution for our manual picking process.”

Goya ended up partnering with Wavelink, which would provide the mobility aspect to the warehouse management solution that was already in place, created by Manhattan Associates. Wavelink’s Speakeasy and Terminal Emulation (TE) 7.3 interface with Manhattan Associates’ warehouse management system (WMS). “The WMS involved the use of RF units for the picking portion already,” continues Ramos. “Speakeasy gave us the opportunity to install a voice solution while not altering the WMS system configuration. It also put the power of development in our hands, as opposed to having to outsource it.”

Now, Wavelink technology forwards the Manhattan application out to mobile users. During the day, users utilize Wavelink TE to replenish the warehouse shelves with arriving product. At night, users use the Speakeasy application to pick items from the shelves and load them on to trucks for delivery to the stores.

The technology was fully deployed by September 2010. Wavelink Professional Services provided on-site training. What’s more, Ramos was able to learn to make script changes in Speakeasy in just a few days without any knowledge of programming languages. The intuitive interface and voice commands have also provided an easy learning curve for users.

“We now have a truly hands-free picking solution,” he reports. Overall, deployment of Wavelink’s Speakeasy allows Goya to add voice capabilities to their mobile devices that integrate with Wavelink’s TE and Manhattan Associates’ WMS. Speakeasy adds text-to-speech and speech-to-text functionality to increase the productivity of the mobile workforce.

Goya has improved warehouse productivity by letting case pickers confirm quantities through speech instead of using a keyboard. “For the order pickers, having their hands free from having to hold a paper order has enabled us to achieve more efficient and fluid picking,” says Ramos.

In addition, the ability to combine voice with other types of data entry, such as barcode scanning, provides a further cross-check to ensure that tasks are completed accurately.

Real-Time Visibility Via GPS

Wagner Oil tracks drivers via GPS and manager receive alerts and other notifications when preset conditions are violated.

Wholesale fuel distribution has slim margins, with a variety of rapidly changing variables that affect operational decision-making and profitability. Many companies' dispatch teams spend hours on the phone getting these details, but dispatchers burn out quickly.

To improve its operations, Wagner Oil deployed Pedigree Technologies' OneView solution, which includes CalAmp’s LMU-4200 enterprise location messaging unit, Katlyn’s iRamp 200 Web-based fleet management tool, and GlobalScale Technologies’ GuruPlug.

Eight managers monitor OneView, with an additional 50 users set up to receive critical alarms and notifications. In addition, there are 16 route drivers who are being tracked via GPS, with future plans to expand this feature to include OneView’s route optimization and dispatch management solution.

“Dispatchers love the real-time readings for inventories, as well as getting warnings communicated,” says John Wagner, president.

Since implementation, the company has delivered an additional 1.4 million gallons, reduced common carrier load hauls by 75%, saved an average of $0.02 per gallon on a few loads per day, reduced $500,000 a month in cash flow dedicated to excess fuel inventory, and added five more convenience store carriers.


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