After consolidating bulk goods from five of its regional sites into one national distribution centre, Waitrose uses voice-directed working to set best-practice across the business.
Voiteq, global providers of Voice-Directed Work, has deployed voice into Waitrose’s national distribution centre (NDC) in Magna Park. Combining bulk and slow moving SKUs from five regional distribution centres (RDCs), the new site currently employs over 800 employees and offers 940,000 sq ft. of warehouse space – the size of 12 football pitches. The new site is run by Kuehne + Nagel and will act as the Waitrose Distribution Centre of Excellence.
One of the largest distribution centres in the UK, the site’s Voiteq voice solution will link directly to the Waitrose JDA Dispatcher warehouse management system and will provide 200 plus employees with a more comfortable and efficient ‘hands-free, eyes-free’ picking method over three shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The centre handles the distribution of around 16,000 nationally available grocery and home department lines and 2000 regional that can be found in Waitrose branches and on Waitrose.com. Initially fulfilling branch orders of slow moving bulk items, the RDCs will continue to use Voiteq voice to handle the Partnership’s smaller, fast-moving SKUs.
“Waitrose was already using voice in our RDCs. As part of the Waitrose policy, we had to investigate all available solutions on the market and voice still proved to be the best option for the new facility. The scanning function of the Honeywell A730 voice terminal gives us additional flexibility and opens opportunities to voice-enable other processes,” remarked Jonathan Mayes, IT group leader at Waitrose.
Working together with Waitrose and Kuehne + Nagel, Voiteq understood the needs of the business and its requirement to continuously adjust its use of voice across a large site. Further enhancements included new features such as ‘report problem’, ‘RapidStart’ and vehicle mount brackets which enable an employee operating a forklift to leave the device clipped onto the vehicle. In addition, the vehicle mount will provide benefits if Waitrose extends its use of voice into put-away and replenishment in the future.
“The new features further cemented our decision to use voice. As well as improving the safety of our Partners and accuracy of each order, enabling Partners to report a problem in real-time with a full audit trail means we save time in resolving any issues,” remarked Neville Dobson, business unit director – Retail & Value Added Services. “The ‘Rapid Start’ feature also means that we can on-board new or temporary colleagues much quicker using personal teaching aids, freeing up our supervisors’ time and letting them focus on running an efficient operation.”