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Reduce Training Time and Raise Productivity with Honeywell Voice
Coastal Pet Products Inc., an Alliance, Ohio-based manufacturer of collars, leashes and harnesses for cats and dogs, produces 14,000 to 16,000 SKUs. Established in 1968, the family-owned company is an industry leader known for being among the first to incorporate double-ply nylon webbing in its designs. Coastal Pet Products also supports its highly automated manufacturing processes with proprietary machinery designed in-house.
To improve picking and inventory replenishment — and ensure consistent on-time delivery to retail stores and e-commerce customers — the company’s warehouse and business systems managers sought to upgrade their technology platforms. This included migrating to the latest enhancements in voice software and mobile devices that would maximize the benefits of voice-guided workflow, such as: productivity, accuracy and consistent on-time delivery.
More than a decade ago, Coastal Pet Products partnered with Honeywell to implement voice-enabled automation in its warehouse. The robust solution enabled Coastal Pet Products to transition to a paperless picking process and gain greater operational visibility and control — all while greatly improving worker productivity, accuracy and safety.
While their warehouse management system (WMS) communicated with the voice system, its ability to provide inventory status updates and visibility to other operational key performance indicators (KPIs) was limited in scope and timeliness. To maintain shipment accuracy and on-time delivery while increasing the volume and velocity of orders, the company decided in 2017 to invest in a more advanced WMS. At the same time, Coastal Pet Products also began considering how to upgrade its voice technologies. The company set the following operational and financial goals for the project:
- Reduce training time required for seasonal workers to learn the voice system
- Speed up picking by overcoming the noisy warehouse environment
- Avoid labor costs for overtime
- Expand real-time insights into inventory and operations
- Support retail fulfillment while scaling e-commerce fulfillment
- Honeywell Voice
- Customer: Coastal Pet Products Inc.
- Location: Alliance, Ohio
- Industry: Pet care
- Website: www.coastalpet.com
- Improved productivity
- Reduced labor costs
- Lowered training requirements
- Increased picking speed
- Enhanced visibility
Why Coastal Pet Products Chose Honeywell
- Company has been a Honeywell Voice user for more than a decade
- Previous Honeywell Voice devices improved shipment accuracy to 99.8 percent
- Honeywell Voice seamlessly integrates with third-party WMS
- Voice technologies improved operational efficiency and profitability
Enhancing Order Fulfillment Processes to Keep up With Growth
The upgraded Honeywell Voice system improved Coastal Pet Products’ already high-performing order fulfillment processes.
To meet increasing requirements, the company replaced older wired and wireless headsets with SRX3 wireless headsets, the next generation in Bluetooth® wireless headset technology. The SRX3 headsets are ideal for noisy distribution centers (DCs) and warehouses because they utilize the latest advancements in speech recognition technology. They also offer long battery life in every operating environment and a shareable component design.
To support mobile workers with faster picking and inventory replenishment directions, Coastal Pet Products invested in A720x voice-enabled mobile devices. The wearable devices enable the Honeywell Voice system to deliver hands-free and eyes-free efficiencies via intuitive and ergonomic technologies. A720x Series devices support simultaneous use of Bluetooth-enabled headsets, scanners and printers.
In 2018, Coastal Pet Products tested 15 of the devices combined with SRX3 headsets to determine whether workers could hear more clearly while walking through the racks and next to conveyors. Based on proven improvements in audio quality as well as how quickly the system communicates order information, the company bought another 42 of the A720x mobile devices to equip every worker on all shifts.
Honeywell Voice seamlessly integrates with Coastal Pet Products’ new third-party WMS to provide advanced data collection, automated documentation and analytics capabilities. The company now has access to real-time insights into inventory, order status and productivity.
What voice-enabled workflow looks and sounds like
Pickers can work on two or three orders at a time, guided by Honeywell Voice to locations in the warehouse based on bin and rack height. Workers pick the number of items as directed and place items in totes. They scan RFID numbers, which are communicated to the WMS. The WMS then directs conveyors to deliver orders to packing stations or labeling lanes. Honeywell Voice also tells workers when to apply UPC stickers. When needed, the picker prints labels with a Honeywell RP2 mobile printer and applies them to the order.
Voice-Directed Systems Lower Costs and Improve Performance
Investment in advanced voice-directed technologies enabled Coastal Pet Products to immediately realize process improvements and other benefits, including:
- Improved productivity. The A720x mobile devices send order information faster than the older equipment they replaced, and operators pick up instructions quicker because the audio quality is better. As a result, Coastal Pet Products improved productivity by as much as 5 percent since implementing the new voice-directed technologies. In addition, the company is testing UPC sticker printing with Honeywell RP2 devices. The mobile printers save time that workers previously spent walking to and from fixed printer stations. “We’ve freed four to six hours per worker per day by adding on-demand UPC printing,” said Scott Honaker, IT technician, Coastal Pet Products.
- Reduced labor costs. In 2018, the company ran extra shifts on Saturdays to process orders or replenish inventory. In 2019, after updating the voice systems, only one Saturday for overtime work was needed. Overall, the company now operates with fewer workers as a result of improved productivity.
- Lowered training requirements. Time needed for training new and temporary employees has been reduced by at least 250 hours. Employees spent one to two hours to record templates so that the previous equipment could recognize and respond to their voices. “There’s no longer training to create a voice template. Instead, Honeywell Voice can quickly learn an employee’s voice while the worker learns what the directions from the device mean. We can have new workers productive in the first hour on day one,” Honaker said.
- Increased picking speed. With the updated voice technologies, workers pick orders faster and the company eliminated delays in packing and shipping which were caused by the slower communication capacity of the previous voice devices. “We’re never waiting for pickers anymore,” Honaker said. “Picks are completed in record time and we’re overloading the conveyor system now. We’re actually picking too fast.”
- Enhanced visibility. Honeywell Voice communicates in real time with a third-party WMS and also updates its inventory information in real time. Coastal Pet Products can better manage its business by having live, more accurate details about orders, what’s in stock, what’s being picked and replenished, and where fulfillment delays are occurring.