On the final morning of Elevate, John Romero, Director of Distribution for Fox Racing, spoke to a full room about his experience integrating voice-directed work into a HighJump-powered warehouse. He covered everything from the selection process to the expansion of voice beyond picking procedures, and gave insights into why you should consider the solution.
Fox Racing, founded in 1974, has four distribution centers (DC’s) in Stockton, Calgary, Eindhoven and China. They initially started their consideration of voice in 2007, after struggling with a variety of challenges presented by picking with RF and paper.
“We do same day shipping, so we were constantly having to push through orders. This led to a fluctuating order volume that was hard to predict and staff,” said Romero. Additionally, Fox was struggling to streamline training, with long training times and difficulty selecting the right trainers. “It was taking us days to train people, and training was unpredictable. My best picker ended up being my worst trainer, and my least productive picker was actually the best trainer,” recalled Romero.
Fox was also struggling with RF reliability, as the warehouse environment took a toll on the equipment. “We had workers dropping the devices, cracking the screen, or packing the RF guns away in shipments to customers,” said Romero. “The whole thing was a mess.”
When Fox began looking for a robust solution that could address their training and order fluctuation issues, they had a few set criteria:
- The solution needed to be flexible, and allow for management of peaks in orders
- The solution needed to be as hands free as possible, as the item sizing in the warehouse was highly variable
- The solution needed to offer easy training
- The solution needed to be cost effective for expansion
Fox began by evaluating pick-to-light, but found that it was still too involved of a process. “Even with lights, there were so many touch points. Cost was also an issue, as lights are incredibly costly per each additional SKU,” stated Romero.
They then turned to HighJump Voice, and were blown away by a live demo in their warehouse. “We wanted to see our workflows with our staff and our orders. We wanted to see that it would work for us,” said Romero. “We did a back-to-back comparison, where we picked fifteen orders across three aisles with our old system, and then with voice. Voice cut the pick time in half, and we were sold.”
Once voice was implemented into the picking workflow with voice, the results were almost immediate. “We shipped 100% on time and complete on the first day we turned on voice, and have had no problem since,” said Romero. The results they received from voice are as follows:
- 50% productivity increase
- 22% accuracy increase
- Reduced training time from 1 day to 1.5 hours
- 6 months ROI
- 120 to 80 employees
- Increased employee satisfaction
Voice Beyond Picking
After seeing such monumental success implementing voice for picking, Fox was forced to consider using voice for other workflows. “Once we installed voice for picking, we created a bottleneck in replenishment. Our pickers were working so fast that they were running out of stock in the bins. By extending voice into replenishment, we would able to relieve that bottleneck,” said Romero.
From there, Fox extended voice into cycle counting. “We still have dedicated cycle counters, but we also use our pickers. If a picker arrives at a location and our system shows 5 or less items, the system will ask for a cycle count on the spot. If the number is different then what we are seeing, we send a dedicated cycle counter onto the floor to address the issue,” stated Romero.
With interleaved cycle counting, Fox has seen a large improvement when under audit. “Our auditors come in and are done in two to three hours. Our inventory is so effectively tracked with cycle counting that it takes almost no time to audit,” recalled Romero. “Last time they were in, we had $40 million in inventory and we were off by less than $1,000. We’re working to get that number down to zero, but we counted that as a big win for voice.
Fox also utilized voice for receiving, allowing workers to pick in the receiving process. “With same day shipments, we don’t always have the luxury of waiting for items to be processed. Voice allows us to have pickers select items right off the truck, so we make sure we can get things out on time,” said Romero.
The expansion of voice isn’t complete for Fox, who plans to move it into as many warehouse processes as makes sense. “In the immediate future, we are planning to expand voice into put-away, packing, and pallet building,” said Romero. “The only thing that limits your use of voice is your imagination. The potential is limitless.”