Voice Directed Order Fulfillment Automation for Frozen Food Fulfillment Success Story

Founded over 100 years ago, Neesvig’s is a family owned meat processing and specialty food fulfillment firm.  They distribute products nationwide as a one-stop shop for e-com food fulfillment.  The firm specializes in third party logistics services for dozens of top brand food suppliers and retailers of perishable, frozen, refrigerated and dry goods.

Continuous growth was overwhelming their previous facility and limiting their ability to add additional customers.  Neesvig’s decided a new facility was required and hired The Numina Group to perform a facility engineering design study and define means to improve the order fulfillment operation. The outcome of the study concluded that a new facility incorporating lean automated pick, pack, and ship processes would yield substantial savings and quickly justify the investment.

On completion of the study, Nessvig’s hired Numina to implement the material handling automation. The automated processes are controlled by Real-time Distribution System, RDS™, Numina’s Warehouse Execution and Control System WES-WCS.

RDS™ includes a voice directed order fulfillment automation module that manages the entire pick, pack, and ship order fulfillment process throughout the new distribution center.  At order start RDS manages Cartonization to direct cooler size selection, and manages document insertion and license plate barcode label application.

Pick by voice directs order picking throughout the operation.   At order release, RDS batch picking begins in the freezer and directs bulk picking of products. The products are then moved and dynamically slotted to the forward cooler area pick module.  Customer orders are picked to the shipping container/coolers.  Items are picked and pack validated using a combination of voice and hands-free barcode scanning for capture of the SKU, GS-1 lot numbers, and sell by dates.

At the exit to the pick module coolers receive the proper ice pack quantities so orders arrive frozen at the customer’s home. “Voice picking has streamlined the process, reduced errors, and increased worker productivity” said Paul Werwinski, President of Neesvig’s. “We reduced picking labor in the freezer by 50 percent.”

Pick and pack completed shipping coolers convey to the in-line scale. Orders that pass the weight audit convey to the print-and-apply labeling systems for automated application of the shipping label. “The print and apply has eliminated the manual processes of weighing and hand applying the shipping labels, significantly speeding up the shipping process” Werwinski said.

At the exit of the print and apply labeling system, coolers convey, are automatically shrink wrapped, and sorted to UPS/FedEx parcel trailer. Automation gave Neesvig’s efficiency gains across the entire operation providing an excellent ROI and scalability to handle Neesvig’s growth. According to Werwinski, the investment has reduced labor costs by 35 percent and increased throughput by 40 percent during peak periods. “From start to finish, we have less touches, faster order completion time and less errors, Automation has paid off for us.”

Please enjoy the corresponding Neesvig’s success story video.

If you’re interested in reducing labor costs by 35% or more in your operation, please contact The Numina Group at 630-343-2622.

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Invest in Warehouse Technology

Unemployment in April 2017 hit a 10 year low, sending a wake- up call that companies need to invest in technology to increase productivity in warehousing and distribution operations!

The US Job Market added more jobs than expected in April lowering the US Unemployment rate to a 10-year low.  The latest report shows the addition of 211,000 jobs in April and with the unemployment rate at 4.5%, the US economy is effectively at historic full employment.  Additionally, the two month Consumer Confidence Index is at its highest level in 8 years, which should strengthen American businesses’ confidence in the US economy and its continued growth.

With an already tight labor pool getting tighter, manufacturing and warehouse distribution operations are finding it increasingly difficult to find reliable workers. Baby boomers are continuing to retire at record numbers, and the cost of wages and benefits will increase significantly.

When you add in the cost to recruit and hire new employees, and the fact that it is far more difficult and expensive to find manual labor and temporary workers during peak periods, companies have no better return on their investment than automation technologies.

Winning businesses are quickly adapting to the changing labor market by investing in leaner, less labor intensive processes that eliminate wasted touches, and at the same time increase order fulfillment accuracy. Implementing the right automation, such as pick by voice in combination with pack and ship automation technologies, is a proven strategy to boost productivity 30 to 50% or more in manufacturing and distribution operations.

Here’s a few reasons to investigate voice picking technology:

  1. 12 to 18-month ROI
  2. Pick by Voice is quickly deployed, resulting in immediate increases in picking productivity and order accuracy. It is well suited to for Omni-channel picking, B to B, and E-Com fulfilment, especially in applications that require capture of lot codes, serial numbers, and sell by date data.
  3. The latest generation voice is speaker independent, and eliminates operator voice training so operators become instantly productive, even temporary workers! Reduced training time combined with hands-free barcode scanning provides pick and pack validation in a single touch directly to the shipping carton.
  4. Voice directed pick, pack, and ship order fulfillment outperforms manual process liked paper based picking or RF terminal based picking with 25% to 30% gains in productivity and accuracy rates of 99.98%+ with no secondary inspection.
  5. Pick by Voice enforces better work practices across you workforce and directs operators in a lean, efficient, and uniform order picking practice. It includes a labor management module that measures and reports worker productivity, and provides additional tools to analyze order fulfillment costs, which allows for increased focus on distribution profitability.

Tips to Improve the Pick Process

Start by reviewing the pick processes and making sure the SKU slotting profile is based on velocity movement.  An efficient travel path with SKU’s properly slotted based on A, B, C velocity will create a more efficient pick, pack, and ship order fulfillment process. Picking labor can account for up to 55% of a DC’s labor cost, so an efficient and lean process combined with the right technology drives wasted steps and costs out of the operation!

Once picking is streamlined, don’t ignore the additional improvements to be gained by deploying automated pack and ship technologies such as in-line pack automation lines that combine scan-weigh-audit, pack sheet print and insert, void fill and auto carton taping/sealers, automated print and apply labeling, and manifesting.  Automation in packing can increase daily shipment capacity, eliminate overtime, and cut labor costs by 50%

In conclusion, automation gets more work done with current or fewer employees to increase shipments in less time and at a lower cost. Numina Group can assist you in making this happen at your operation. We will define and develop improved order fulfillment processes, and help in selection and implementation of automation technologies that improve productivity and profitability across the entire distribution operation

Are you looking for tips to improve the picking process in your DC facilities?  The Numina Group is here to help.  Call (630) 343-2638 or Fill out a Contact Form to arrange a complimentary site visit and consultation.

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Pack to Light Featured at ProMat

Featured at Promat 2017 Numina Group’s Pick by Voice & Pack to Light Boosts Order Fulfillment – Booth S3452

Numina Group will demonstrate their latest Real-time Distribution System, RDS-Warehouse Execution and Control Software, WES-WCS which combines Pick by Voice and Put to Light Order Picking and Consolidation into a pick, pack, and ship suite for e-commerce and Omni-channel distribution operations at Promat 2017 – Booth S3452.  Pick by Voice directs the primary picking directly to the shipping carton while also directing the picking of items to the put to light consolidation operation. The new software module provides a highly efficient and cost effective means to simultaneously pick orders across all of the DC’s pick zones and to gain a 30 to 50% higher productivity in current or new distribution centers. Pick by Voice when combined with Put to Light allows both single zone picking direct to the shipping carton and simultaneously sweeping items across all of the warehouse zones to consolidation totes. This provides efficient order pick and packing at the Put to Light Consolidation Area.

Put to Light Put Walls can scale from small to large order consolidation requirements. A typical size is 50 or more order consolidation shelf positions. Each shelf includes a pick to light-put to light multi-color display indicator/ and confirmation button and shelf color LED light-bar illuminator. Each display position includes a color light bar that illuminates to light the entire shelf position to quickly and accurately guide the operator to put and verify placement of the required items to the required shelf. Operators use a hands-free blue-tooth ring 2-D scanner to scan either the item barcode or the tote/case batch of items to rapidly light, put, and confirm orders. The new put wall order consolidation technology allows a single operator to perform 500+ item scans and puts per hour. When the last item is scanned the alpha numeric display is lit showing the order is complete and the required carton size for packing and shipping.

“Pick by Voice when combined with the latest advances in Put to Light order consolidation increases pick and pack order fulfillment and boosts productivity an additional 10 to 15% compared to a Batch Cart only picking process” stated Rick Ernst, VP of Software Development at The Numina Group. Put to Light order consolidation as a component of  voice directed cart and fork truck picking reduces operator walk or fork truck travel time and increases operators hourly picking rates by allowing more items to be picked per travel path. Additionally, an added bonus of the RDS Voice software module is batch picking and directing the put of all single SKU orders within the zones to a separate tote for “Speed Picking” of the single line orders and directing the singles tote to a high speed pack and ship line.

Interleaved, simultaneous picking operations with highly accurate 99.99% voice technology, gains even further efficiencies added to the pick process when combined with RDS’s pack automation technologies. RDS pack automation integrates conveyor, auto print, fold, and insert of the packing sheet, scan- weigh-dimensioning-vision audit and print and apply of the shipping label to further reduce labor and increase order shipment throughput performance.

Numina Group’s RDS™ (Real Time Distribution System) is a Top Tier Warehouse Execution and Control System (WES-WCS) containing a full family of software automation modules to efficiently manage and execute order fulfillment pick, pack, and ship processes. The order fulfillment software module includes RDS Voice utilizing a highly advanced mobile computer for voice directing the DC workforce. Orders are picked using Cartonization logic directly to the shipping carton using an advanced Speaker Independent Voice technology that eliminates operator training time. This technology will be demonstrated at Booth #S3452. Stop by, and learn why intuitive pick by voice, put to light order consolidation, and pack and ship automation has provided our customers documented savings of 50-70% workforce productivity gains!

RDS™ Voice Pick & Pick/Put to Light Automation

  • Speaker Independent Voice Picking requires Zero Training, including Labor Management & Productivity Tracking/Reporting
  • RDS™ Cartonization Software – Highest Cube Utilization Logic determines “Best Fit” Carton
  • Pick to Light and Pack to Light Order consolidation- fast, simple, and accurate

 Pack and Ship Automation

  • Pick to Carton Reduces Touches in Packing
  • Slashes Pack Labor and Material Costs
  • Auto Print-Fold-Insert Shipping Documents
  • Semi-automatic or Fully Automated Void and Seal

Shipping and Manifesting

  • In motion Scan-Weigh-Dimensioning, Vision Audit, and Ship Verification
  • Print and Apply Labeling of Compliance, Packing Slips, and UPS, USPS, FedEx Shipping Labels
  • Automated Conveyor and Parcel, Pallet Build and Order Fulfillment Sorting Systems

About the Numina Group – Numina Group has over 30 years of experience in the design and implementation of automated warehouse and distribution centers.  Numina Group’s Real-time Distribution System, RDS™ is a top tier Warehouse Execution and Control System (WES-WCS) with an advanced order fulfillment automation module that includes pick by voice, pack, and ship process automation technologies for automated warehousing operations.  Numina Group provides a full range of services from consulting/design, pick by voice, pick and put to light, print and apply labeling, conveyor and sorting material handling controls for turnkey automated distribution operations.  Their expertise eliminates bottlenecks and excessive labor while improving accuracy and throughput in order fulfillment.

For further information contact:

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Value Stream Mapping

Eliminate Waste in your Order Fulfillment Operation with Value Stream Mapping

In an earlier post, we discussed how upfront planning to define the right DC design road map can lead to free warehouse automation thanks to a rapid ROI generating significant cost savings. Studies show that best-in-class companies that emphasize continuous improvement, invest in value mapping to streamline processes, and collaborate across departments in warehouse design improvements gain the following benefits:

·        Increased cash flow within 120 days of a project completion

·        Reduced order-to-delivery cycle time from weeks to days

·        Consistently meet same-day delivery

·        Reduced on-hand inventory from 10% to 30%

·        Increased inventory turns

·        Experienced throughput gains of up to 70%

A project that focuses only on cost through head count reduction misses the opportunity to consider other gains achieved through investment in automation. Lean only designs can generate some benefits, but not at the same level that a holistic warehouse design evaluating order flow across the entire operation. The best means to achieve the highest ROI is to start with a design and process flow that focuses on people and processes, and then considers which blend of technologies delivers the best ROI.

Begin with Value Stream Mapping

Value Stream mapping begins by asking two questions, “what adds value to customers?”, and “What steps can be eliminated or combined into a single step?”  In layman terms, the goal of value stream mapping is to identify what a customer will pay for, and how to make it more profitable.

It is an exercise of discovery that creates a flowchart of what you’re doing today, including all the steps and touches, and identifies which steps add value and which are wasted. The goal should be to eliminate as much of the waste components as possible throughout your entire order fulfillment process.

The As-Is flowchart creates a step-by-step overview of your entire process in order to identify opportunities for improvement.  In a warehouse operation an As-Is flowchart begins by documenting all of the touches associated with the pick, pack, and ship process.  This typically represents the highest labor cost areas in the DC.

The next step is to drill down into each of these steps and ask, “Where is the value?” As you ask this, keep in mind, customers pay for value – they don’t pay for wasted steps and multiple touches, wherever waste is present, you are absorbing these costs in the operation and damaging your bottom line.

Customers don’t care if you have to move an each, case, or pallet four or five times before it is ready to ship. The end customer doesn’t consider if you use paper, RF terminals, or pick by voice to manage the pick and pack process.  Customers don’t care about your internal operational inefficiency, unless it affects their experience or business!

After completing the current DC flow charts, post the flow chart on the conference room wall and have the team collectively review the operation. You won’t have to ask “Which of the steps in the process that we’re doing right now add no value to the customer?” Several will jump right out! Then begin brainstorming and collaborating on how to eliminate the non-value steps, which will increase customer value.

You may currently pick-to-tote, use an inefficient cart, or manually pick and pass orders at several steps in the operation.  It is up to you to decide if you want to absorb the higher cost of labor and inefficiency that stems from error prone picking processes that require secondary validation at QC to prevent errors. Waste and secondary touches drive higher costs per shipment, and need to be identified and eliminated for the Value Stream Mapping Initiative to be successful.

Ultimately, customers only care about getting the right product on time, at the lowest delivery cost. The Warehouse Education Research Council (WERC) has studied this topic extensively and created a metric companies can compare themselves against called The Perfect Order Practice.

The Perfect Order Practice focuses on the following four metrics: 1. Rate of accurate order fill – meaning the percentage of orders picked and packed complete, 2. Correct documentation, 3. Arrive damage-free, and 4. Delivered on time!   Companies scoring high in these categories are on average 17.5% more profitable.

A lean pick, pack, and ship process should score high across the board on all components of The Perfect Order Practice.  Conducting a Value stream mapping study provides companies with the opportunity to identify how your company scores on The Perfect Order Practice metric.  This study will allow you to focus on what steps need to be taken to achieve warehouse operational improvements, and ultimately enable you to define what software and automation technologies can be deployed to enforce better processes and practices.

Empower Your Employees

Equipping people with technology that allows them to perform faster and more accurately combined with a low-touch process is a good place to start in an initial phase. Consider what technologies enforce the improved practices and build accuracy into the operation. Technology decisions should be made after you’ve leaned up and value-mapped the order fulfillment process flow.

Can you guess what great technology will obtain the above? A hint…….it starts with v and ends in e. Pick by Voice technology can be a low cost game changer for most order fulfillment operations!

It is vital to focus on “better” processes that can be improved or are adaptable to future changes. For example, it’s sufficient to begin with a new design that takes a mediocre picking process and improves it to a good, sound pick-to-tote process. Then, as a second step, once you have the SKU cube and weight database thoroughly tested, you can make additional incremental changes to improve the process with functionality such as picking directly into the shipping carton.

Order picking operations can be improved from discrete order picking to batch picking using push cart and fork truck carts. Batch picking reduces travel and visits to the same item storage positions, and thrives when combined with proper velocity based slotting of SKUs.  Also, a “Speed Pick” process can be interleaved during the batch pick, which speeds up single SKU shipments by picking them all to a tote in one stop.

If you have questions or would like to augment your team’s expertise as you go through this process, the Numina Group is here to help. Our engineers are here to create improvements in distribution and order fulfillment, and help you select and implement automation technologies that result in rapid, measurable improvements for higher profitability throughout your order fulfillment operation. Please contact us today to discuss warehouse process improvement questions and your thoughts and goals.

Learn more by calling sales at (630) 343-2622.

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Webcam Vision Capture

Numina Group Technology Submitted for Promat 2017 Innovation Award

Numina Group has applied for the Promat 2017 Innovation Award. RDS Webcam Vision Capture becomes a standard component of our Scan-Weigh-Audit System.

WOODRIDGE, IL — Numina Group has submitted the next generation Vision Capture technology as an innovation worthy of the Promat 2017 Innovation Award. The latest iteration of RDS™ Webcam Vision Capture integrates high definition image capture with Scan-Weigh-Audit System to capture weight, as well as an image of outbound shipping carton’s picked complete SKU contents prior to addition of void, and the sealing of the carton at completion of the pack process.

Promat 2017 is the premier showcase for material handling, supply chain, and logistics solutions in North America. The Innovation Award recognizes technologies that advance inefficiencies and accuracy for warehousing, manufacturing, distribution, and supply chain.

Numina Group’s Real-time Distribution System, RDS™ Webcam audits pick, pack, and ship.  It can also be used for full case or packed carton in-line Scan-Weigh-Dim-Audit systems that further validate parcel and LTL order shipments.  Vision capture takes advantage of the latest generation high performance webcam, an intelligent Internet appliance that lowers the cost of high resolution image capture for in-line order scan-weigh-vision audit technology.  The webcam is automatically triggered by scanning the carton or tote barcode and captures and transmits a high-resolution internal carton content image that is time-stamped and saved in the RDS™ Warehouse Control System, WCS database.  Vision helps customer service validate a customer’s order shipment and eliminates customer order delivery disputes.

“Including the webcam as a standard component of the Scan-Weigh-Audit system lowers the barrier that previously limited the return on investment of vision technology.  Now users can gain another tool to increase quality control and improve customer service in their order fulfillment center.  Vision in combination with weight audit decreases the likelihood a customer can falsely claim there was a picking error, and is especially useful for direct to consumer, and B to B internet fulfillment operations,” explained Dan Hanrahan, President and founder of The Numina Group.

The system integrates with RDS™ controls and diverts cartons that fail the expected weight tolerance to a QC audit inspection station that seamlessly integrates quality assurance throughout the pick, pack, and ship process.  The software includes a carton order history database for tracking, retrieving, and viewing each shipment and allows customer service to view and e-mail order details with the internal content image to the customer for visual verification proof of delivery.

“In the event of a customer shipment dispute, customer service can view a time-stamped image of the carton content and resolve shipment disputes at a fraction of the cost it takes to manually verify an order shipment,” noted Hanrahan.

Numina Group’s software and automation technologies streamline order fulfillment and increase productivity for distribution and manufacturing operations. RDS™ Webcam Vision Capture and inline Scan-Weigh-Audit technology along with RDS™’s full family of warehouse automation technologies including:  Pick by Voice, Pick to Light, Print Fold Insert of pack sheet documentation, and Print and Apply Labeling will be demonstrated at Promat booth S3452.

Promat 2017 takes place from April 3-6 at McCormick Place in Chicago.  Visit Numina Group at Promat 2017 in booth S3452.

About Numina Group:  Numina Group is an industry leading Warehouse Execution and Control System, WES-WCS software provider and automation systems integrator for manufacturing and distribution applications. Numina Group offers a full range of professional services including consulting/design, mechanical engineering, controls, and automation technologies that improve new and existing warehousing operations.

 

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Numina Group Announces the Release of a Full Featured Warehouse Management System, WMS

WOODRIDGE, IL – Provider of warehouse and distribution order fulfillment automation, design and engineering services, Numina Group, announces the release of a highly advanced and tightly integrated Warehouse Management System (WMS).

earnhardt-partners-wms-photoRDS+ LFS.wms provides a proven solution backed by a worldwide leader in Warehouse Management Systems. The solution provides a highly scalable warehouse management system with a full family of advanced logistic automation modules including a transportation management system (LFS.tms). The software is proven in over 2,000 worldwide installations.

RDS+ LFS.wms integrates Real-time Distribution Software Warehouse Execution and Control System (WES-WCS) order fulfillment software suite with a tightly coupled and robust combined WMS-WES. RDS+LFS.wms provide a single source high performance, high transaction WMS that bundles all the best practice warehouse automation tools in a pre-configured WMS core application. RDS+ LFS.wms scales from mid-range to large volume DC’s and also supports multi-site DC requirements and can also be Cloud deployment,” said Dan Hanrahan, President of the Numina Group.

Key to RDS+LFS.wms is the large percentage of the WMS application that is provided in a preconfigured starter package. The WMS is shipped ready to be configured to the DC’s requirements, based on 30 years of application know-how and WMS implementation experience. Included in the RDS + LFS.wms is inbound goods receiving, inspection, inventory management including A, B, C velocity put-away/slotting, and order pick, pack, and ship with both RF and voice picking automation.

The following summarizes RDS+ LFS.wms core functionality with the ability to “bolt-on” the full family of additional Ehrhardt + Partner logistic automation and supply chain modules:

“RDS+ LFS.wms scales from mid-range to large volume DC’s and also supports multi-site DC requirements and can also be Cloud deployment.”

  • Receiving: Capture, record and post incoming goods from suppliers and/or manufacturing production transfer areas.
  • Quality Control: Creation by SKU of inspection rules and order shipment instructions.
  • Inventory Control and Management: Maintain and define storage locations and bin locations with a configurable inventory management strategy that includes put-away, retrieval, replenishment, and stocktaking/cycle counting.
  • ABC-Analysis: ABC SKU analysis and range analysis by SKU velocity movement for directing storage location type and storage location groupings.
  • Paper, RF Terminal and/or Voice Picking: voice picking, pick to light, and RF terminal picking automation.
  • Intelligent Transport Shipping Manager: History, definition, display and use and recording of shipping and transport/tasks to optimize pick, pack, and ship work tasks.
  • Report and label print management: Lists and labels with a layout designer that can be performed by in-house personnel.
  • Interface to ERP: Import and export of item master, purchase order, delivery advice, goods receiving, customer or order data.
  • Statistics: Key performance indicators, KPI’s, displays and printouts, statistic records for put away, retrieval and relocation.

Additional information on E+P’s full family of Logistic Focused Solutions and RDS+LFS.wms can be obtained by visiting or contacting the Numina Group at http://www.numinagroup.com/. Or at E+P http://www.ehrhardt-partner.com/en/warehouse-management/warehouse-management-system-

voice directed picking numina groupAbout Numina Group: Founded in 1986, Numina Group is a leading supplier of warehouse execution and control system, WES-WCS, material handling automation and systems integrator for manufacturing, warehousing, and automated distribution order fulfillment applications. The firm provides voice picking, pick to light, conveyor and sorting controls seamlessly integrated to an advanced warehouse management system. Numina Group offers a full range of engineering services and software including consulting/design and engineering to accelerate the performance of pick, pack, and ship process at existing and new distribution order fulfillment operations.

About Ehrhardt + Partner Group: A Leading Worldwide Expert in Logistics, Warehouse Management and Supply Chain Optimization Services.  Founded in 1987, Ehrhardt + Partner are an international group of companies with more than 450 employees in fifteen worldwide software development and support locations. The combination of our 30 years of expertise in logistics, software engineering, and on-going R&D commitment provides the latest in supply chain software functionality and technologies to assure customers a committed and financially strong partner to meet today’s and future logistic and transportation challenges.

Ehrhardt + Partner offer a modular, scalable multi-OS and database independent Warehouse Logistics and Warehouse Management System. Customers can rely on us to provide highly reliable software and solutions that optimize warehouse and their entire supply chain. Logistic Focused Solution, LFS™ our flagship Warehouse Management System, LFS.wms is installed at over 700 customers distribution and warehouse operations managing over 1,200 worldwide distribution centers; picking and shipping over 40 million orders a day!

 

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