Established partnership finds its voice

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IT Reseller spoke with Philip Jarrett, commercial director of Dakota Integrated Solutions, and Paul Fraser, head of sales at The Config Team, about the companies’ long-standing relationship, which has now been further invigorated with a focus on voice technology.

Dakota Integrated Solutions and The Config Team are two companies that are firmly established in their respective yet highly complementary technology fields. Dakota is well-versed in the provision and deployment of digital data capture, printing, mobility, support and voice-enabled solutions across a diverse range of environments, while The Config Team is a leading SAP gold partner focusing on SAP supply chain consultancy and support, as well as providing cutting-edge products including PreBilt, a suite of mobile solutions for warehouse management, plant maintenance and mobile proof of delivery.

Dakota and the Config Team have had a partnership agreement in place for many years. Historically, this has mainly involved Dakota supporting the hardware requirements of The Config Team for its diverse range of customer implementations. “The relationship was primarily based around The Config Team’s SAP integration solutions,” explains Philip Jarrett, commercial director at Dakota Integrated Solutions. “So, whenever those types of applications needed any sort of mobile hardware such as a scanner or a printer, Dakota would work with The Config Team to secure the best prices and also fulfil any other requirements related to a particular customer’s application needs.”

Demand for voice

When Jarrett joined Dakota in January 2021, the relationship between Dakota and The Config Team became re-energised, largely based on the companies’ mutual recognition that there was a growing appetite for voice-enabled solutions in the market. “Similar to the way Dakota recognised the value of voice, The Config Team also quickly realised what this type of technology could bring to the table, together with its out-of-the-box PreBilt solution that could be quickly voice-enabled,” says Jarrett. “With this in mind, our partnership around voice started in early 2021 and has been making major inroads in the market ever since.”

Synergies

Paul Fraser, head of sales at The Config Team, explains that both Dakota’s managing director Keith Hardy and The Config Team’s founder Andrew Moses have a long-standing history of working together. “They understand their respective strengths and synergies as like-minded specialist companies who can offer a collaborative approach to customers,” he says. “They also recognise that reliable and dedicated customer service has got to be paramount. Moreover, because innovation is part of The Config Team’s essence as a business, we quickly recognised the value of voice and the understanding that Phil has in this type of technology. If you’re going to commit to voice, it is important that you work alongside a company with a deep knowledge and experience in this technology; a company that understands the nuances of how to develop a voice solution that is the perfect fit for individual customers. In this regard, the relationship between Dakota and The Config Team has really flourished since Phil came on board.”

Benefits of voice

Jarrett points out that, conceptually, voice-directed picking is very similar to traditional scanner picking using RF data capture devices. “However, with voice, prompts are delivered and responses are provided through the spoken word, offering businesses a wealth of benefits including an increase in worker productivity by up to 35% and a reduction in errors by up to 50%,” he says.

Jarrett adds that the benefits of voice-directed technology over traditional handheld devices in many operational environments are becoming increasingly recognised within several sectors. “These benefits include a significant increase in productivity and accuracy, greater compliance and standardisation as well as quick, intuitive training on the part of the user, often amounting to hours rather than days or weeks. The leading devices in this market are also ergonomic and easy to use and are well-received by users. Indeed, they often mention that in comparison with alternative automation solutions, voice systems make their tasks during shifts a lot easier and more enjoyable. Additionally, users can choose their preferred language to receive instructions through the devices and since voice technology is hands and eyes free, users don’t have to constantly look down at a pick sheet or mobile device. This can also further enhance health and safety levels.”

From left to right: Keith Hardy, managing director, Dakota Integrated Solutions; Paul Fraser, head of sales, The Config Team; Philip Jarrett, commercial director, Dakota Integrated Solutions.

Euro Packaging UK project

One recent high-profile voice project for Dakota and The Config Team will involve installing a voice-picking solution into Euro Packaging UK’s warehousing facility to enhance overall productivity, efficiency and accuracy. Les Tyrell, SAP operations consultant at Euro Packaging UK, states: “I am delighted that we will be implementing a voice-picking solution within our warehouse. The launch of our new online shop will increase our order quantities and I am relieved that we now have a solution which will be able to handle this anticipated escalation in orders, as well as helping us to maintain our renowned levels of customer service.”

Tyrell’s comments have been echoed by colleague Paul Timmins, group IT director at Euro Packaging UK, who adds: “Both Les and I were keen advocates of a voice solution implementation from the start as we recognise the benefits that such a solution will bring to us as a business and how it will enable us to improve upon our mission-critical supply chain and order fulfilment processes. We are pleased to be working with both Dakota and The Config Team and we are very grateful to them for guiding us through the product selection process. We believe that this solution will prove highly successful, and we look forward to continuing to work with both companies to get the new system up and running in the very near future.”

Jarrett adds that this new solution will completely revolutionise Euro Packaging UK’s supply chain processes. “In a voice-directed warehouse system, operators use a compact, wearable computer with a headset to receive instructions by voice,” he explains. “The computer is connected to the host business system (ERP or WMS) over a wireless network and the operator is able to confirm his or her actions verbally back to the system in real time.”

Fraser states that the new partnership with Dakota is now starting to deliver on The Config Team’s vision to enable voice solutions to be delivered on PreBilt. “Our new combined solution will enable Euro Packaging UK to streamline its processes, increase user engagement and productivity while enhancing operational efficiencies, and we are very much looking forward to all parties working together to ensure a smooth integration and installation process. Euro Packaging UK has always been a forward-thinking company in terms of innovation and the type of solution and hardware it uses. This is why Euro Packaging UK has taken this jump into voice to enhance and add further value to its existing processes. On The Config Team’s part, we are committed to ensuring SAP users know we have a valuable partnership with Dakota, which gives them full access to these innovative solutions – from a software, platform and hardware perspective.”

Jarrett adds that industry segments increasingly relying on voice include the now well-established warehousing environment for picking and replenishment tasks, through to maintenance & inspection operations in industries such as transportation and aerospace.

New opportunities

Following on from the anticipated success of the Euro Packaging UK implementation, Dakota and The Config Team are now pursuing a number of exciting new opportunities that they are currently working on together. “These projects involve some market-leading brands in different industry segments and more on these new projects will be announced shortly,” says Jarrett. “Watch this space.”

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