VOCOLLECT VOICEEXPRESS EXPANDS VOICE FUNCTIONALITY FOR EWING IRRIGATION PRODUCTS
Ewing® Irrigation Products provides landscape, irrigation and golf course professionals with the supplies they need to create healthy, sustainable environments. Founded in 1922 as an irrigation distributor, today Ewing’s “outdoor lifestyle” products include water management solutions, agronomic supplies, landscape lighting, water features, hardscape (paved areas with little soil) and erosion control.
The main Phoenix, Arizona area-based Ewing distribution center (DC) serves branch store operations in 200 convenient locations across the country. The company ships 1,800–2,000 cartons a day on average, operating one shift five days per week.
Unlike many industries where products are packed and shipped in boxes of uniform size, the Ewing product line comprises everything from wheelbarrows and 50-pound bags of fertilizer to 20-foot-long sections of PVC pipe and small drip emitters – making the order fulfillment process a complex proposition. Alongside the varying order size and dimensions is the issue of possibly late or incorrect orders, which aren’t just an inconvenience to the branches: The contractors – Ewing’s key customers – will lose money, because they still have to pay their people.
Optimizing the Workforce
When Ewing transitioned from paper to handhelds, it gained a performance boost. Even so, workers struggled with the cumbersome nature of handhelds and the company’s odd-sized, bulky product mix, and management looked for a way to optimize the individual worker experience and increase the efficiency of their operation overall.
Manhattan Associates/Vocollect Voice Solutions Drive Fast Flexibility
When Ewing had a major technology upgrade to Manhattan Associates’ warehouse management system (WMS), its distribution leadership wanted to explore additional technology options for the picking process. Manhattan recommended Honeywell Vocollect™ voice. Ewing management wanted to go beyond voice just for case-picking – it wanted to use voice for its pick-fromreserve workflow. However, it was hard to build a business case for that application.
Manhattan recommended Vocollect VoiceExpress, an enterprise connector integration option that enables Honeywell partners to configure the solution without WMS changes or significant IT staff time.
“With Vocollect VoiceExpress, we were up and running in two weeks; a traditional modification to our WMS would have taken much longer. This provided us with strong flexibility for all aspects of our order selection process,” said Tony Saurer, Ewing Supply Chain Manager.
Workers “Learn It, Love It, Live It” with Vocollect VoiceExpress
“The Manhattan/Vocollect voice solution has transformed our DC operations,” said Tony Saurer, Ewing Supply Chain Even with its many non-standard-shaped products, Ewing saw a minimum 20% increase in picking productivity and accuracy with Vocollect voice solutions. Manager. “We have gained a wide range of efficiencies that helped us optimize our labor pool and eliminate overtime.”
The company has realized a 20+ percent improvement in both order accuracy and productivity over scanning through Vocollect VoiceExpress.
“In the early days of our company, it took 12 associates working 12 hours a day, six days a week, to service 100 of our branches. With the solution from Manhattan and Honeywell, the same workers can service all 200 stores working only five days a week. And they typically finish the day’s order selection efforts in seven hours, allowing us to allocate labor to other workflows,” said Terry Williams, Ewing’s Vice President of Customer Experience. “This allows for higher fill rates that will help improve our customers’ profitability.”
In addition, voice has eliminated a number of unnecessary extra steps required with scanning; now workers simply speak the license plate number. Before, they might have to scan 20–30 individual fertilizer labels. With Vocollect VoiceExpress, they can multi-pick, reading off the first and last label and doing a database query for the in-between labels – turning 20–30 item transactions into only one.
“With Vocollect VoiceExpress, everyone’s smiling – our management, our employees, our branch managers and our contractors. Our Vocollect VoiceExpress users certainly have adopted a ‘learn it, love it, live it’ philosophy about the new system – they would never want to go back to handhelds again,” said Saurer
Voice Picking Produtctiviy
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