Perry’s Ice Cream is a nearly century-old company that makes 12 million gallons of ice cream a year, under its own name and in partnership with other national brands, for delivery to customers throughout the Northeast. Picking in a frozen environment of minus 20 degrees presents a number of problems, says David Perry, team leader for frozen warehouse operations. “The manual, paper-and-pencil system that we used before, and picking accuracy with heavy gloves and other cold gear equipment made accuracy a problem,” he says.
Perry’s looked at a number of automated solutions but chose a voice-picking system from Vocollect. “They helped us correct those problems and get the right product to our customers every time,” Perry says.
For the selection process, Perry’s put together a cross-functional team, including some hourly warehouse workers. “Since we had determined that pick errors and productivity were our top two problems, we had decided to go with a voice system and as we shopped around Vocollect jumped right to the top of the list,” he says.
Warehouse productivity has improved 35 percent, with picks per hour jumping from 130 units to 150 units, says Perry. Additionally, the “learning curve” for warehouse workers has dropped from 90 days to three days, which has dramatically improved employee turnover and retention.
Accuracy also has dramatically improved. “With Vocollect, team members have to read back a check digit to verify the accuracy of each pick,” says Perry. “When they were sight-reading the digits, it was easy to transpose them, which meant they might pick a tub of chocolate where a tub of cookie dough was what the customer wanted.”
Perry’s also realized a 16 percent labor savings. “We have gone from a direct head count of 16 to about 14,” says Perry. “During peak seasons, where before we had to ramp up with an additional nine or 10 employees, we now have to add only five or six.”
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