LifeWay Christian Resources was founded in 1891 with the purpose of creating and distributing bible study resources to local churches. Now, more than one hundred years later, LifeWay is one of the leading providers of biblical materials in the world, providing bibles, books, CDs and more to over 160 countries.
LifeWay runs their distribution out of a single 350,000 square foot distribution center (DC) in Lebanon, Tennessee, located about 30 miles outside of Nashville. This DC handles nearly 15,000 unique SKU’s, with more than 3,000 orders being fulfilled each day.
They were driven to consider voice after struggling to improve their 91.17% accuracy rate with paper. “Having to carry the pen and pencil, and marking items off as you go, was cumbersome and error prone,” said Justin Sullivan, Manager of Supply Chain and Systems for LifeWay. “Voice offered the ability to be hands free and focus on the task at hand, without worrying if you missed a line on the pick list or marked something incorrectly.”
While there were a host of benefits that LifeWay saw from implementing voice, according to Sullivan, accuracy was the big win. “We could see accuracy improvements within the first few days. That was a big deal for us – we didn’t expect to see that kind of accuracy improvement so quickly.” Those results continued throughout the first year, allowing LifeWay to reduce the line pick error rate from 1.29% to .39%.
Training time also saw the benefits of voice, with training time for a new picker dropping from three full shifts to only four hours. “The faster we are able to get new people plugged into our operation, the better we can utilize new employees,” claimed Sullivan.
In addition to using voice to complete picking, LifeWay also included the ability for their pickers to use voice for cycle counting as they move through the pick process. “We still have dedicated cycle counters, but we now utilize our pickers as well. If they arrive at a location that has inventory below a set threshold, the voice system will ask them to confirm the number of items available. It’s really helped us stay on top of inventory control,” said Sullivan.
When asked if he had any final advice for someone considering voice, Sullivan stated it simply. “Voice is not right for every warehouse, but if it’s right for you, you’re likely to get a lot out of it.” He also stressed the importance of finding the right partner for your implementation.
“For a project to be successful, you need to find someone that listens to your needs and what you want, and does everything they can to find the best solution to meet those needs. Vitech was that kind of partner for us.”