Körber’s WES and voice-directed picking solutions transform supply chain operations

Körber is working with Toolstation, one of the UK’s fastest-growing suppliers of tools, accessories and building supplies to the trade, home improvers and self-builders, to evolve its multichannel capabilities to meet consumer demands. This includes enhancing processes in its Redditch distribution centre while supporting Toolstation’s expanding network of stores.

“It was really important for us to streamline our processes to make picking easier for our colleagues, improve visibility of workload across our distribution centre and to improve the quality of delivery to our customers,” commented Jim Gowland, Head of Distribution at Toolstation. “When we turned to Körber, we were looking to reduce our in-house complexities to develop a superior solution that would work in our current operation and with our existing IT infrastructure.”

Working with Toolstation, Körber designed a solution that uses a warehouse execution system (WES) combined with voice technology to facilitate process change, driving efficiency and accuracy.

The WES builds the basis of operational improvements. It links orders geographically in the warehouse to limit the walk time of each operator. Innovative multi-order picking logic enables picking for multiple customers. Furthermore, product information is used to maximize the fill of each delivery unit, reducing transportation costs as well as amplifying operators’ picking tours.

The voice system improves the pickers’ experience in a different way. Workers hear and verbally confirm instructions step by step via headset. This ensures process conformity, improves productivity and reduces errors. The complexity of Toolstation’s product range also makes onboarding new pickers challenging. Voice technology has a proven record of significantly reducing training time. Due to the accuracy of voice picking, goods-in and put-away of orders delivered to stores will also be significantly improved, freeing up employees’ time for more valuable customer tasks.

A further benefit of the two linked systems is the WES’ ability to log and track each voice-directed action and provide near real-time visibility via a suite of standard dashboards. This gives the warehouse management team true insight into the operation.

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