It may still seem like a 'new' solution, but the team at VoiteQ went live with the first voice-directed warehouse system in the UK 10 years ago, on 27th September 1998. VoiteQ was formed from the IT function of the 100 store convenience chain 'Heald's Day & Nite Stores'. Prior to forming VoiteQ, the Heald's IT team had already proven their worth by developing and implementing the world's first fully voice directed warehouse management system (WMS) as part of a new, fully integrated retail system.
The implementation of this WMS system into the Heald's grocery distribution operation in 1998 was designed to control all aspects of the warehouse using Vocollect Voice, including Goods-In, Putaway, Replenishment, Picking and Stock Control. From these beginnings VoiteQ is now the UK's largest supplier of voice directed distribution systems, having supplied hardware, software, services or support to the majority of UK warehouses which have adopted voice technology.
David Stanhope, VoiteQ's CEO says, “After implementing voice technology in our own warehouse we witnessed significant improvements to picking accuracy and productivity by using voice systems. Our accuracy increased to over 99.9 per cent and productivity improved by more than 18 per cent. In addition we eliminated claims from our stores and full warehouse stocktakes, due to the very high levels of stock accuracy within the business. Not surprisingly these results gained us significant interest from other convenience store operators, demonstrating the market potential for voice.”
The voice solution the VoiteQ team installed at Heald's was developed by Vocollect, and is the same solution VoiteQ still work with today, to bring benefits to not only retail warehouses, but warehouse and distribution centres (DCs) from a wide variety of industries across the UK. Vocollect Voice has been the strategic performance investment of choice in the world's best run DCs, helping workers achieve new levels of accuracy and productivity.
Over that last 10 years, this 'new' voice technology has been adopted in the warehouses and DCs of many leading names in the UK including WHSmith, Next, Palmer & Harvey.
Brakes, Sainsbury's and John Lewis. These are just some of VoiteQ's customers who have witnessed the benefits that voice applications can bring to an operation – increased productivity, decreased errors, increased efficiency, all of which help to achieve the rapid ROI that companies expect from voice.
Roger Byford, CEO of Vocollect, who worked closely with the VoiteQ team on the implementation at Day & Nites Stores said, “VoiteQ were earlier adopters of new technology and after seeing voice picking in the USA, they brought voice applications over to the UK and created the world's first fully voice directed warehouse. Over the last 10 years I have witnessed them work with Vocollect Voice to create new solutions to meet evolving market requirements and grow the company. I am delighted to still be involved, as a business partner, as they reach this milestone of working with voice directed systems for 10 years.”
Since the implementation of the fully voice directed WMS, voice technology has moved on, with many of these leading UK businesses choosing to implement VoiteQ's VoiceMan middleware application. VoiceMan allows voice to be implemented in complex environments, integrating easily with both legacy and the latest developments in WMS host systems in a cost effective and timely manner.
Stanhope concludes, “The VoiteQ team were the first to implement voice in the UK, we were Vocollect's first reseller in the UK, the first certified repair centre in the UK and the first certified Vocollect Voice Solution Provider. For a long time now VoiteQ have had some of the most experienced and most qualified specialists in the voice industry. We continue to lead the way in voice solutions; consistently not only meeting, but exceeding our customers' expectations.”