Customer

Case study: voice technology helps Horseware keep a tight rein on warehouse operations

 

Founded in 1985, Horseware Ireland designs and manufactures riding wear, leisure wear, horse rugs, equestrian products and accessories. With a turnover of approximately €40m, Horseware employs more than 600 people worldwide and has offices in North America as well as factories in China and Cambodia. Its sales, marketing and financial headquarters, as well as its factory and European warehouse, reside on a 175, 0002 ft. site in Dundalk in the Republic of Ireland.

The Problem

Due to a period of expansion and rapid business growth, Horseware gradually became unable to keep up with the ever-increasing volume of orders with the paper-based method it was using to record the movement of goods in, around and out of the warehouse. This was creating issues with order picking, order accuracy and stock replenishment, which in turn was resulting in customer service and time management issues.

Aware that a new and improved solution needed to be implemented in order to provide the company with the level of functionality required to cope with new levels of demand, Horseware sought to deploy a fully-automated solution within its warehouse facility.

David Minto, warehouse & retail manager at Horseware, comments: “It was becoming increasingly clear that an automated data capture solution was needed within our warehouse which would integrate fully and seamlessly with our legacy Movex ERP system. We looked at a number of solutions and subsequently chose BEC to work with us to install a brand new WMS with Honeywell’s Vocollect voice software at its core, having seen voice solutions in operation in other apparel warehouses. BEC was also able to showcase an impressive amount of experience in implementing its solutions into Movex ERP systems, so we had every confidence that BEC was the right company for the job.”

The Solution

After completing a thorough data capture audit of its warehousing facility, which included gaining a full understanding of all Horseware’s operational processes, BEC recommended its eSmart Warehouse with Voice software solution.

Philip Jarrett, director of sales and marketing at BEC, explains: “Conceptually, voice-directed technology is very similar to traditional RF scanning, but prompts are delivered and responses are provided verbally. The Honeywell Vocollect voice solution can help businesses increase worker productivity by up to 35%, whilst reducing errors by up to 50%.”

With a proven and trusted track record in supplying and implementing voice technology within a range of warehousing and distribution centre applications, BEC is a specialist provider of future-proof and innovative automated data capture solutions designed to integrate seamlessly into any host ERP system to fulfil business and commercial requirements.

Its eSmart Warehouse with Voice solution has been developed with voice technology at its core rather than as an add-on feature, allowing Horseware to use the benefits of Vocollect voice solutions throughout its warehousing facility, specifically within its picking, put-away, stock replenishment, despatch and replenishment operations.

Horseware selected the Honeywell Vocollect A710 Talkman device and the SRX2 advanced speech recognition wireless headset, having been particularly impressed with the built-in Vocollect TouchConnectTM technology. This allows workers to quickly pair wireless headsets to the mobile devices, thereby reducing shift start-up procedures from minutes to seconds. The solution also provides other time saving features, such as battery runtime remaining, allowing workers to ask the Vocollect device when a battery change may be needed, helping them to plan and eliminate unnecessary travel time in the midst of completing an order.

David Minto continues: “With the old system, orders were being released even if there wasn’t enough stock on the shelf. With the new system however, if there’s not enough stock, then the order automatically goes back to replenishment and the products are put on the shelf by the forklift driver before the picker actually goes to pick the order. Once all products are available then the order is released to a picker. This saves so much time and avoids confusion and unnecessary delays. As far as order picking is concerned, our processes are now much more streamlined and occur virtually without error. Our accuracy levels have dramatically increased and we are saving a lot of time and money as a result. We used to need two people to pick an order – one for picking and one for packing – but now a single picker is able to complete both tasks much more quickly.”

The Result

For Horseware, the results of the new solution are far-reaching. As of August 2015, Horseware was running 7% up on its 2015 sales target without adding any extra staff, as well as a 23% increase in units shipped. Horseware has also drastically improved upon its order traceability.

David Minto concludes: “The new solution now allows us to easily find out who picked and who packed an order, the date it was shipped and which courier it was sent with. All of this information is fully available to our customer service team, so any issues can be dealt with in an accurate and timely manner. We have also been able to achieve increased visibility of staff performance, allowing us to implement a bonus scheme, which has increased our employees’ pride and satisfaction in their work. Despite some initial scepticism of the new solution amongst a few of our warehouse workers, they would now never agree to go back to the old system.

“In terms of our operational processes, we are experiencing increased efficiencies and a tangible reduction in errors. The new solution just works.”