The supply chain company Gist, with 1,000 customers, has particular expertise in managing supply chains for perishable and chilled products.
The process of picking goods in the warehouse was slower than Gist wanted. Pickers used handheld scan guns with a display screen showing the items they had to pick. A picker would pick an item and scan to record it. If the item needed two hands to lift it, the picker would be required to put the scan gun down, place the item in the tray for delivery, go back, pick the scan gun up and check where to go for the next item. This meant there was a risk that a picker could pick up another picker’s scan gun by mistake. Gist wanted to manage the risk attached to the paper-based process used to coordinate pickup and onward delivery. The delivery driver would have a list of items to deliver to each Starbucks store. Gist wanted a system that would guarantee drivers load all the items for delivery before setting off, and give stores visibility of the items to be delivered.
The paper record of deliveries had to be typed into a computer by an administrator when the driver returned. For both the picking and the delivery operations, Gist required a solution that would improve speed and increase accuracy. The driver offloads the items at the store and scans them with the MC67 to record the delivery. The software incorporates a time stamp and location (through GPS) to confirm that the items have been delivered. If items are damaged, the driver can take a photograph. All the information about the delivery is automatically uploaded to IM2 ePOD from the moment the driver leaves the warehouse, and Starbucks staff can access the information in real time through the IM2 ePOD web portal.
M-Netics installed a hands-free solution in the warehouse that combined Zebra wearable terminals with the Wavelink Speakeasy voice picking software. The pickers, instead of having to look at a screen, hear a voice in the headset telling them the location they need to go to and the number of items they need to pick up. When they have picked the items, they confirm out loud the number picked. If they’ve picked the wrong number (four, perhaps instead of five), they will be asked the reason and they can say, for example, that one of the items was missing. To improve delivery, M-Netics installed its IM2 ePOD solution on Zebra MC67 mobile computers, which have integrated cameras and scanners. At the start of the day, the driver checks the items he has loaded against a list displayed on the MC67 screen. When he arrives at the first Starbucks site, the screen displays the items the driver needs to deliver.
Pickers in the warehouses have significantly improved the speed with which they pick goods for dispatch. They can now also accurately record how many items they have picked and record their reasons for not picking the full number (such as a faulty item). Prompted by their MC67 display, drivers have improved their accuracy in loading items. The process of recording delivery data is more efficient: paper information no longer has to be retyped as the data is uploaded automatically to IM2 ePOD. Because Starbucks staff can see in the IM2 ePOD portal when deliveries are expected, they can ask the driver to prioritise a particular store if necessary. Starbucks managers can see reports on both the warehouse and delivery data through the IM2 ePOD portal, showing how many items have been delivered and when. This has reduced the number of queries about whether items are on a delivery or still in the warehouse.