WHSmith voices stock control approval

WHSmith's travel division is increasing its investment to voice picking technology in its distribution warehouse following a major expansion of its business.

The subsidiary, which supplies airport, train and service station retail outlets, needed to enhance its capability of its Holford distribution centre (DC) after increasing its customer base by 30 per cent over the last 12 months, with the introduction of WHSmith's stores within UK petrol stations.

WHSmith first implemented VoiteQ's VoiceMan middleware and Vocollect Voice in late March 2004. The voice-activated warehouse picking system integrates with the retailer's existing warehouse management systems (WMS) and operates Vocollect's belt-mounted, wearable computer.

Jim McCafferty, WHSmith Travel's Holford site manager said: "We've witnessed significant improvements to picking accuracy and productivity by using voice technology. As the workload in the DC increased, we knew the best solution to help us to cope was to expand our use of voice within the warehouse."

The division will double the number of voice picking units with Vocollect's Talkman T5, an upgrade from the existing T2 computers that were originally installed.

McCafferty added that WHSmith Travel would work with the system's suppliers to develop it according to the company's specific needs: "We're looking forward to expanding our use of voice technology."

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.