3M implements Wavelink voice recognition solution

Adhesives technology manufacturer 3M selects Speakeasy software to provide hands-free capabilities in its Sydney DC

3M implements Wavelink voice recognition solution
3M implements Wavelink voice recognition solution

March 25, 2013

Adhesives technology manufacturer 3M has selected Speakeasy software from Wavelink to provide hands-free capabilities in
its Sydney Distribution Centre (DC).

Almost everyone in the industrialised world has used 3M products.

The company produces everything from Post-it Notes to Scotch Tape
and mining equipment, as well as medical equipment and manufacturing wares. The three Ms originally stood for Minnesota, Manufacturing and Mining.

Speakeasy allowed 3M to quickly and easily add voice support to its existing terminal emulation applications.

According to
Wavelink, in the past, implementing mobile voice applications required the creation of new server-side applications, specialised voice-specific mobile devices and the purchase of additional server hardware.

With Speakeasy no new server, modification or replacement of the host application is needed, making implementation faster and easier.

"In our first full month of using Speakeasy everything is going better than I had imagined," says 3M Australia Distribution Centre Manager Daniel La Greca.

"The software has been readily accepted and embraced by our end-user employees.

"Even at this early stage, we are seeing tremendous benefits from the Speakeasy implementation that will result in significant ROI."

La Greca, who has been with 3M for 11 years, oversees 3M Australia’s entire distribution centre operation. He is also responsible for the company's automation investment.

Sydney facility represents about 99.9 percent of all materials for warehousing and distribution across the continent.

La Greca says the site is a very complex operation involving a large number of picking functions, multiple moving parts and people working together simultaneously.

With responsibility for everything on-site, La Greca’s role is to work with several business units to ensure the daily operations of the DC are maintained.

facility holds a large number of products, with roughly 5,500 stock-keeping units (SKU).

While La Greca was initially pleased with the operation’s automation, he felt there was an aspect missing.

"Due to the complexities and large picking variations required, the site was in the market for a voice recognition software solution," he says.

A regular courtesy call from technology partner AirData gave La Greca the opportunity to follow up.

Over a few meetings with Airdata and Dexion executives, it was decided to implement Wavelink’s Speakeasy."

"Until now, our picking activities relied on an automated conveyor system, warehouse management software and handheld scanners," La Greca says.

"The high pick rate is extremely labour intensive and very complex. There is a lot of splitbased picking involved. We pick multiple inner cartons of a product to create outbound orders with multiple SKUs per carton.

"This includes in-bound and out-bound instructions across two shifts."

La Greca says 3M people love the fact they can now keep their eyes on the ball by speeding-up the scanning stage.

"Things have gone extremely smoothly so far and I’m confident that the ability for us to do all of our picking functions without setting down and picking up devices will save a significant amount of time, resulting in significant savings and new efficiencies," he says.
La Greca adds 3M hasn’t had any major bumps in the road during and since deployment.

"Sure, there have been some minor tweaks and adjustments that had to be made during implementation, but that is always expected and choosing AirData, our incumbent industrial mobility partner, resulted in a plain-sailing and seamless process," he says.

In addition to the need for a robust voice solution, the use of the site’s handheld devices was cumbersome and at times accuracy and efficiency became compromised as a result.

La Greca says the RF hardware for the Speakeasy implementation was a no-brainer.

"We always knew we were going with Motorola," he says.

"The functionality of their devices is second-to-none and they provide great flexibility as far as the types of software and applications that can be run on them."

3M is currently running Speakeasy on the Motorola MC9090 and is looking to add the Motorola wearable WT4090 to further enhance end-user productivity.

The Speakeasy implementation was rolled out and implemented in under 12 months.

"Our partnerships and previous experience with AirData, Dexion, Motorola and Wavelink were extremely positive," La Greca says.

"At the end of the day it just made sense to stick with what we knew. So far we’ve been pleased with the result."

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