A global leader in the production and distribution of advanced plastic piping systems, Aliaxis is an international group of businesses dedicated to the sale and manufacture of products for residential and commercial construction, industrial and public utility applications.
Based in Kent and host to the Hunter Plastics, Durapipe, Multikwik and Marley Plumbing & Drainage brands, Aliaxis has teamed up with BEC (Systems Integration) Ltd, a leading UK-based supplier of data capture solutions for supply chain logistics and manufacturing, as part of a drive to continuously improve customer service levels.
As a complex business with multiple product lines, Aliaxis knew that an off-the-shelf package would not fit the company’s needs. With this is mind, they worked closely with BEC to develop a bespoke voice-based and Electronic Point of Delivery (ePod) software solution which was specifically aligned to their requirements.
Aliaxis were previously using a paper-based system which included manual paper pick lists, despatch notes and labels both inside and outside of the warehouse for order picking, order consolidation and fulfilment and also for their ePod processes.
Tom Hamlyn, Logistics Director at Aliaxis, explains “Due to a lack of automation within our facility both inside the warehouse, in the yard and during our delivery process, we were experiencing an increasing number of errors which were in turn having a negative impact on our customer service levels. We received a call from Honeywell Vocollect Solutions about voice-based data capture and expressed an interest as this was something which we were in the process of evaluating at the time. Once they had deciphered what type of voice-based solution we were looking for, they put us in touch with BEC in order to take the project forward.”
Based in Blackburn, Lancashire, BEC is a specialist provider of future-proof and innovative automated data capture solutions designed to integrate seamlessly into any host ERP system to fulfil business and commercial needs. With a specific focus on the supply chain and manufacturing industries, BEC’s level of expertise spans the complete spectrum of AIDC technologies.
Hamlyn continues “BEC came highly recommended by Honeywell so we were assured from the off-set that they would be a suitable fit for us. At the time we were evaluating another Voice solutions provider, however we quickly came to the conclusion that BEC understood what we wanted to achieve from a new system and really took the time to understand our operational processes. Since our system requirements were not straightforward, BEC undertook a detailed evaluation of our business in order to come up with a suitable bespoke solution which worked for us, giving us the confidence that they would be able to overcome all the non-standard elements of our process.”
Aliaxis has deployed two types of software: BEC’s eSmart® Voice software for the voice-enabled element of the solution, based on the Honeywell Vocollect voice platform, and BEC ePod software for the ePod element.
eSmart® Voice, running on Honeywell A710 Talkman devices coupled with Honeywell SRX2 wireless headsets, is used within the warehouse for order picking, consolidation and fulfilment. Each product within the warehouse has a unique locations identifier, allowing the operatives to accurately follow instructions received through the speech recognition wireless headsets in order to pick items correctly.
Philip Jarrett, Director of Sales & Marketing at BEC, explains “By developing the software in partnership with the actual warehouse operatives, we were able to find out exactly what was happening ‘out on the floor’ and put solutions in place to eradicate any bottlenecks or other issues. We also ensured that the entire solution worked seamlessly with Aliaxis’ Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP system, which is critical to their business and overall operational processes.”
Honeywell A730 Talkman devices (also running eSmart® Voice) with SRX2 wireless headsets are used outside of the warehouse facility for picking larger products which are stored externally due to their size, as well as for scanning completed orders onto the delivery vehicles.
The ePod element of the solution, which comprises of eSmart® ePod software loaded onto Honeywell CT50 mobile computers, is used in-cab for the tracking and delivery of orders, including signature capture.
The BEC eSmart® Voice software working in conjunction with eSmart® ePod manages the entire solution from end-to-end, including the provision of dashboards for easy reporting and management of the solution in its entirety.
Aliaxis has experienced a number of business benefits as a result of the new BEC solution, predominantly improved customer services levels as well as better picking and delivery accuracy.
Delivery quality has improved by 40% and the dashboards which Aliaxis now have as a result of the system offer improved visibility for customers and provide management staff with a snapshot of the warehouse daily workload.
Management staff are now also able to view drivers’ routes, fulfilment information and workers’ picking history which delivers an up-to-date status overview and reporting platform. The ePod part of the solution has also given Aliaxis the opportunity to collect clear and accurate signature capture for goods received with a clear time and geographical time-stamp.
Being able to send out the correct consignments and deliveries first time every time has helped to substantially lower costs due to the reduction in second-time deliveries which Aliaxis were previously experiencing due to incorrect orders being loaded onto trucks and delivered to the customer.
Hamlyn adds “The new system has significantly helped our operatives with day-to-day picking accuracy. They have less ‘baggage’ to walk around with and it makes their job easier as they have better stock accuracy to work with. The voice solution can also work with a huge range of languages, dialects and accents, so training and the undertaking of tasks for our permanent, temporary and agency staff are much quicker and easier than before.”
Hamlyn concludes “BEC gave us the element of confidence which we needed in order to take the next step and improve upon the previously manual processes which were utilised within our facility. We knew that they were well-versed in supplying and implementing similar solutions amongst their existing customer base and were highly experienced in developing, designing and deploying both scanning, ePod and voice data capture solutions.
They took the time to understand the solution we required so as a result of that, coupled with their vast amount of experience with scanning and voice, we have got everything we asked for – and more.
It was also extremely beneficial to us to get an end-to-end solution supplier so that we could deploy and work on the whole solution throughout our business with one specific company.
The implementation ran extremely smoothly and they delivered everything they said they would from day one. We have received a highly stable, robust solution which we don’t have to worry about on a day-to-day basis and which continues to deliver great results for us as a business, drastically improving our overall functionality and profitability. We very much hope to roll-out the solution to our Scottish division in the near future.”