Lactalis Group is a worldwide leader in the dairy industry known for maintaining the highest standards in all its products. Established in France in 1933, Lactalis now exports to more than 80 countries around the world, providing a wide variety of over 2,000 dairy products — from milk, butter and cream to cheeses and desserts. To improve process efficiencies and worker productivity, the company’s warehouse logistic managers sought to transition from paper-based picking to voice-directed workflows. Lactalis selected Honeywell Voice for its extensive applicability throughout the company’s warehousing, distribution and fulfilment operations.
Lactalis worked with Icon Integration and Honeywell to implement and voice-directed picking processes in its Australian distribution (DCs) in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. The robust solution allowed the dairy provider to implement a paperless voice-picking process and gain greater operational visibility and control — all while greatly improving worker productivity.
Due to the short shelf life of milk and the other perishable products Lactalis distributes, the company has only two days to deliver product from its facilities to stores. Warehouse operators lift 18-kilogram crates and move 5.2 million liters of milk a week and must turn over their entire DC stock every 24 hours. It’s imperative that their warehouses run as efficiently as possible in order to deliver fresh dairy goods on time to their customers.
Honeywell Voice empowered warehouse operators with a hands-free picking process. Utilizing the natural voice system enabled workers of all experience levels to be quickly brought on board and trained to achieve desired productivity targets. For warehouse managers, Honeywell Voice provided the abilities to control workflows in real time, access information about distribution status, and gain deep insights into their entire fulfilment operations.
Transforming Order Fulfillment Processes
The Honeywell Voice solution transformed Lactalis’ order fulfillment process. Now, when an order drops into the system, an operator picks up the SAP transfer instructions, confirms the correct location with the check-digit, and then the system tells them to pick a certain number of crates or units. Once an operator picks the item, the voice system then confirms the correct quantity is picked — a process that is repeated until the order is complete.
Using this voice-directed SAP WM solution, Lactalis quickly saw increases in warehouse efficiency and productivity. Previous paper-based fulfillment processes were completed by one picker at a time. With Honeywell Voice, shipments can be allocated and distributed across multiple pickers on the floor, allowing picking to take place simultaneously.
The new system also enables real-time, two-way data flow between workers on the distribution floor and Lactalis’ warehouse management system (WMS). This makes it easy for managers to control the flow of tasks, generate reports, and gain access to comprehensive and accurate information and insights into their operation — including checking on individual worker performance in real time.
“Door-to-door” Improvements to Various DC Functions
While the Honeywell Voice SAP WM module provides greater warehouse visibility and an increase in productivity, Lactalis also sought to further optimize its DC operations by adding Honeywell Voice across all of its warehouse functions. They saw this as a key opportunity to drive continual improvement and provide higher levels of customer satisfaction.
“Our DCs are a critical part of the entire Lactalis Australian operations. Finding ways to improve our warehouse operations was the key driver behind upgrading our current processes and supporting systems,” said Kristian Brennan, national logistics optimization manager, Lactalis.
Icon Integration and Honeywell helped Lactalis increase the benefits of its Honeywell Voice SAP WM solution by expanding implementation of the technology across picking and all workflows within its DCs — and rolling it out across all facilities in Western Australia, Victoria and Queensland.
In addition, Lactalis has been able to gain further benefits for its warehouse operations by expanding the use of its Honeywell Voice SAP WM solution.
“We understood the value of voice from our initial roll-out and it has proven itself again and again, with us now having deployed Voice door-to-door throughout our operations,” said Brennan.
Now operating solely on voice technology, Lactalis no longer needs to swap between different technologies, such as RF. Its warehouses have become more fluid, enabling workers to change their tasks without having to leave the warehouse floor and switch to a different technology.
“The roles of our warehouse employees have changed with the full roll-out of voice technology,” added Brennan. “This has created a more efficient flow within our warehouses, leading to a calmer, less stressful and more productive environment for our employees.”
Brennan added that a key to the success of implementing any new technology is ensuring the whole team is on board.
“Once our employees realized how much easier and more efficient voice technology made their jobs, they loved it,” he said.
Honeywell Voice delivered numerous benefits across Lactalis’ DC operations:
- Compared to RF, Voice has saved 18 seconds for every direct worker-completed action in the warehouse.
- In the first 18 months following implementation, picking productivity increased by 32%.
- Stock loss was reduced by AUD$170,000 in the first year.
In addition, Lactalis has benefited from the enhanced visibility, efficiency, productivity and accuracy that voice technology provides. The improved speed of its processes has allowed Lactalis to consistently reach its daily targets, and the solution has impressed management.
“Implementation of Honeywell Voice from door-to-door has given us a return on investment in less than a year and a half,” said Brennan.
Integration partner Paul Roddis was also pleased with the results.
“With this latest door-to-door Honeywell Voice deployment, we’ve proven that a standard SAP WM can be massively enhanced to provide better warehouse control, orchestration, visibility, reporting and more,” said Roddis.
“For more than 20 years, Lactalis International has been providing a large range of dairy products for retail and food service customers in Asia, Africa, Middle East and in the French Overseas Territories,” said Brennan. “Thanks to the implementation of Honeywell Voice technology across all workflows within our DCs, we can ensure that we continue to provide our customers with quality products every time,” he said.