Zetes, provider of solutions for the automatic identification of goods and people, has just signed a contract in excess 6 million with Morrisons, the UKs 4th largest supermarket chain, to provide one of the countrys biggest voice directed picking installations.
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Morrisons solution, based on Zetes 3iV voice-application software and over 2000 Vocollect Talkman T5 voice computers, is to be developed and implemented by Zetes. Once live, it will voice enable thousands of Morrisons warehouse operators based at all the retailers distribution centres (DCs). Implementation, which is being conducted in phases, began in January 2009 and is scheduled for completion by 2010. Zetes will also provide full on-site hardware and software support through Zetes care support and maintenance which includes service delivery management.
James Hannay, Zetes managing director for the UK and Ireland, explained the picking methodology that Morrisons had been using prior to the decision to move to Voice: The company had been using a paper-based system, which produced printouts of picking tasks. However, thousands of pallets leave the DCs every day and Morrisons wanted to improve the level of accuracy in terms of what was being picked and added to each of the pallets, to ensure they had the right product in the right quantity. The company also recognised that the ROI would largely be achieved through this improved level of accuracy. Morrisons has also been relying on handheld terminals and scanners in the warehouses, but realised that voice-directed picking is more accurate and productivity is quicker.
Prior to securing the final contract, Zetes successfully completed a three-month pilot project to prove the business case of their voice system at Morrisons Corby Freezer DC. This location has subsequently become the first of Morrisons sites to go live with the voice-directed picking installation.
During the pilot phase Zetes implemented a voice picking solution in conjunction with 20 Vocollect Talkman wearable voice computers and headsets, which delivered immediate improvements in accordance with Morrisons project evaluation criteria. These benefits included improved picking accuracy, greater operational efficiency including ease of task allocation and the flexibility to meet Morrisons operational requirements, user-friendliness, the ability to support multi-lingual pickers of all levels of ability and the suitability of the system for freezer environments. In addition, Morrisons management team wanted to improve the quality of real-time, business management information and enhance the reporting capability for the legacy and Oracle WMS.
Morrisons are very pleased to appoint Zetes as a strategic technology partner; their voice picking system met all our requirements and we are looking forward to a speedy implementation, said Gary Barr, IT director at Morrisons Plc. It was important to identify a supplier able to deliver and support our solution to the highest levels and we have found this in Zetes.
Gary Glessner, EMEA VP and managing director for Vocollect, remarked on the importance of the Morrisons deal; both in terms of its overall size and significance during these challenging economic times: This deployment with Morrisons reinforces the contribution of voice in the warehouse, and its ability to maximise efficiencies in the supply chain. Using voice to remain competitive by delivering the right goods at the right time will enable Morrisons to continue to be responsive to market demands.
Anton du Preez, Vocollects business development manager for UK, Ireland & South Africa, added: Zetes is our largest reseller across Europe, and weve enjoyed a relationship that stretches back many years. Zetes already has a strong pedigree with leading UK retailers such as the Co-op and Superdrug and has a well-established reputation for project management and systems integration. From a voice-application business process perspective dialogue, management reporting, etc. Zetes 3iV software is ideal for driving Vocollects Talkman voice infrastructure. 3iV has also proved to be very successful in terms of the integration into a wide range of back end systems.
Indeed, Morrisons voice implementation is being deployed as part of an enterprise-wide IT strategy review, which also includes a migration from its legacy WMS systems to the Oracle WMS. Zetes will be implementing its 3iV voice solution across Morrisons sites running both the companys legacy and Oracle WMS in parallel. Zetes reports that its solution was an ideal choice under such circumstances because it enables Morrisons to benefit from the rapid ROI achieved through switching to voice picking whilst its strategic IT transformation programme continues. The Zetes 3iV solution delivers complementary business logic optimised to enhance the voice functionality of the WMS while avoiding costly and unnecessary duplication of WMS functionality.
We are currently installing warehouse execution software that sits in between the voice picking terminal and Morrisons legacy WMS and its Oracle WMS, explained Hannay. This will allow us to seamlessly switch over from the legacy system to Oracle as Oracle is fully implemented at each site. In this way, Morrisons can maximise on the benefits of voice from the outset rather than having to wait until Oracle is fully deployed throughout its DCs. This will also help achieve a quicker ROI.
Alain Wirtz, CEO of Zetes, commented: In a tough economic environment, Zetes voice solution delivers significant productivity gains to our customers. Investment projects bringing the shortest ROI are the first ones customers are typically considering and Morrisons saw these benefits early on during the pilot phase.
Hannay concluded: Zetes is delighted to have been selected by Morrisons as a strategic supply chain IT partner. We regard this as a flagship project and all of us at Zetes are very excited to have the opportunity to develop both a long term partnership with Morrisons and to deliver a step-change in the accuracy and efficiency of stock picking across their UK distribution network. This project is particularly exciting for us because Morrisons is already outperforming many of its competitors in what are extremely tough trading conditions for retailers, so having the added advantage of voice directed picking will assist Morrisons in maintaining competitive advantage in the future.