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The SIMBA DICKIE GROUP no longer needed to be convinced of the advantages of a Pick by Voice solution: The toy manufacturer has been equipping its main logistics centre in Sonneberg in southern Thuringia with the technology since 2010. The people responsible were therefore aware that voice-controlled order picking leads to a significant reduction in errors and that the work processes are faster for the employees. Nevertheless, after switching to the Pick by Voice solution Lydia® from topsystem, the group of companies experienced a big surprise: a further productivity increase of 11 percent. This was made possible by the use of the ergonomic order picking vest Lydia® VoiceWear® and the intelligent functionalities of state-of-the-art technology.
In the SIMBA DICKIE GROUP warehouse in Sonneberg in southern Thuringia, children's dreams come true. Plush animals, dolls and miniature editions of cranes, ships, trucks and houses pile up to the ceiling of the hall. Of course, the famous fiery red Bobby Car is not to be missed. The group's product range comprises around 14,000 items, which includes well-known brands such as BIG, Eichhorn, Schuco and Smoby in addition to the namesakes Simba and Dickie. From Sonneberg, the toy manufacturer mainly supplies retailers in Austria, Switzerland and within Germany. Not only the numerous master articles have to leave the warehouse on schedule. Throughout the year, employees are regularly faced with the challenge of supplying SIMBA DICKIE GROUP customers with seasonal goods in good time. Sector-typical peaks in demand, such as at Christmas time, also need to be cushioned logistically. This requires an efficient material flow based on the use of modern technologies.
Lydia® Voice is a surprise
Since 2010, the international retailing company has been using an intelligent manual assistance system for order picking at the Sonneberg location that optimally supports employees in their work processes: Pick by Voice. Goods from 5,000 of the 33,000 pallet spaces in the shelf warehouse are picked by voice control. In the course of a year, the proud sum of almost 1 million picks comes together. Using the system's voice output, employees receive instructions as to which articles they are to pick and in what quantities. The goods are then placed in the picking trolley. If necessary, orders from several customers are collected together on one trolley for further process optimization. Since the replacement of the Pick by Voice system used so far, the warehouse employees have received support from the personal language assistant Lydia® Voice from topsystem. "We were looking for a solution that offers our employees ergonomic advantages, can be integrated directly into the SAP LES we use and that we can also adapt to our own needs. The system used so far has not fulfilled these requirements", explains Marco Meusel, responsible for IT Software Services at the SIMBA DICKIE GROUP, the reasons for the change of supplier. Lydia® Voice not only met the requirements, but exceeded all expectations. "The system changeover increased employee performance by a few percentage points compared to working with the previous voice system. That was a big surprise for all of us. We didn't think this was possible because we had already worked with Pick by Voice before," says Marco Meusel. He attributes the significant increase in productivity to the use of the ergonomic order picking vest Lydia® VoiceWear® from topsystem. It can be set up in just a few simple steps and allows employees maximum freedom of movement when working, as the microphone and Voxter® voice computer are integrated. There is therefore no need for an additional headset. Another advantageous factor is the possibility of making adjustments in the speech dialog itself. "For example, we can give certain keywords as answers, which reduces the time required for picking," explains Marco Meusel. Apart from the classic advantages of a Pick by Voice solution such as the hands-free/eye-free concept and the considerable reduction of errors during the picking process, the solution from topsystem convinces with further features. For example, there is no need for time-consuming language training. "New employees and seasonal staff can immediately start using Lydia® Voice without a long training phase, since speech recognition is speaker-independent," says the IT manager. In addition, the battery of the Voxter® voice computer can be changed during operation so that picking does not have to be interrupted.
Further applications are conceivable
As Lydia® Voice is available in all national languages, the successful introduction of Lydia® Voice will soon be repeated in the Polish warehouse of the SIMBA DICKIE GROUP. "We expect an enormous increase in productivity from the conversion to the Lydia® Voice Suite," reports Marco Meusel. In addition to order picking and the processing of incoming returns, other possible applications for Pick by Voice solutions are already being discussed in the main logistics centre in Sonneberg. "What is certain is that we have found a system with which we are well positioned for the future," says Marco Meusel.