Using voice and bar code scanning at Longos

A Canadian grocer combines two technologies to streamline picking processes in its fresh meat department.

<p>Longo Brothers Fruit Markets Inc.is a family owned business which was started byTommy, Joe and Gus Longo in 1956. The first store was located on Yonge Street and Castlefield, in Toronto. The first location was no more than 2,000 square feet.</p>

Longo Brothers Fruit Markets Inc.is a family owned business which was started byTommy, Joe and Gus Longo in 1956. The first store was located on Yonge Street and Castlefield, in Toronto. The first location was no more than 2,000 square feet.

in the News

Other Voices: Distribution center metrics – Are we looking at the right things?
A3: Record-setting growth for North American robotics market
BDO shares NAFTA risk mitigation strategies as rules may change
Descartes purchase of MacroPoint has cold chain implications
MHEDA announces Women in Industry conference
More News
By ·

Last February, Longos Brothers Fruit markets, a 53-year-old family-owned grocery chain installed a voice-directed picking solution (Lucas Systems) to improve productivity in its distribution centers in Mississauga, Ontario.

The result, says John Charleson, director of supply chain and information technology, for the 16-store chain has been a 14% increase in improved productivity—from 140 cases per hour to 164 cases per hour.

But Longos has taken the implementation of voice one step further, combining it with a wearable computer and ring-scanning technology, to capture check weights – the weight of a carton of product – in the meat department. “In the meat department, we sell product by the pound rather than by the case,” Charleson explains. “But having an order selector read the weights into the voice system would lead to errors. Instead, the bar code label on a carton of meat contains the weight. Capturing that with a bar code scan is more efficient and accurate.”

Longos took the first step of introducing voice when it implemented a new WMS system in February.

“Prior to that, we were using an older WMS with RF-enabled scanning guns,” says Charleson. “Increasing throughput in the facility was limited because our order selectors had to pick up and put down a scanning gun every time they completed a case pick. By implementing a new WMS (Qdata), we were able to add voice technology to our processes.”

In most of the facility, Longos uses its mobile computers (Motorola) as multi-function devices: In receiving, putaway, replenishment and pallet picking, the devices are used for bar code scanning; order selectors use them in voice mode to drive case picking.

In the meat area, on the other hand, it’s important to capture not just the type of product being picked, but also the weight of the product being picked, since that’s how the product is tracked and sold. For that reason, order selectors are outfitted with a wearable computer that includes a headset and a ring scanner. The selector is directed to a pick location and told how many cases to pick with voice. The ring scanner is used to scan a bar code label on a case of meat to capture the weight. Using a wearable computer means that the selector is still able to operate in a hands free/eyes free environment as with voice.

The result: “When we did the budget, we allocated 3 months before we would start to see benefits from voice and the wearable scanners,” says Charleson. “Instead, we began to seen an increase in productivity within three weeks. We were told we can get up to 20% improvements, we budgeted a 10% improvement, and three months later we’re up to 14%.”

Read my Blog: Voice Technology is speaking loud and clear


About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Buying or leasing lift trucks this year? Download the full 2017 Lift Truck Acquisition & Usage Study
If you are planning to buy or lease a lift truck in the near future, you’re not alone. 2017 Lift Truck Acquisition & Usage Study
Download Today!
From the August 2017 Modern Materials Handling Issue
For all the advances in lift truck technology and fleet management, operators will always be the heart and soul of a fleet. As manufacturers and equipment purchasers place more value on that piece, the role of the operator extends from design to daily use.
Reader survey: Lift trucks keep on truckin’
Top 20 industrial lift truck suppliers, 2017
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Warehouse Execution Systems (WES): The Pathway to Same-Day Fulfillment
This webinar explores the processes and technologies enabling same-day, same-hour order fulfillment using intelligent supply chain software.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Lift truck operators: Drivers of change
For all the advances in lift truck technology and fleet management, operators will always be the...
Top 20 industrial lift truck suppliers, 2017
The top lift truck suppliers list is changing with industry acquisitions causing a dramatic...

Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits: Designed to Last
On Long Island, the country’s premier distributor of wine and spirits turned to shuttle and case...
GE Healthcare System Report: Lean repairs
Self-driving mobile robots improve cycle times and reduce floor space at GE Healthcare’s new...