To be able to produce VW Caddy and Co. efficiently VW Nutzfahrzeuge maintains a total of 30,000 m² of warehouse facilities in its plants in Poznan, Poland. Whether it is engines, gears or car windows – from here VW supplies its production lines in Poland with all kinds of components. To optimize the picking process, the automobile manufacturer relies on Lydia® Voice Suite by topVOX. The pick-by-voice system was launched after only four months of project time, and since then has ensured a reliable assembly of the individual parts for the automobile production – Always taking into account “Just-in-time” and “Just-insequence” deliveries. Since the introduction of the new voice picking solution Volkswagen Poznan have been reaping the benefits from warehouse productivity that has increased by up to 30 percent.
Since 1994 Volkswagen Poznan has been manufacturing light commercial vehicles such as Caddy or the T6 Van. Body construction, paint shop and assembly are also located in this production facility. Every day 720 cars leave the factory. The automobile manufacturer produces special vehicles, for instance police cars, vehicles for the German Post in factory 4 in Swarzedz. Here, Caddy, Caddy Maxi and T6 are adapted to individual customer requirements.
Just in time and Just in sequence
Car windows, seats, engines, gear shifts and sun protection louvers – the product lists in the supply depots could be continued as desired. On a total of 30,000 m², the manufacturer has 2,000 articles consistently in system. With the diversity of components and their different sizes, picking is a complex process. In addition, the sequencing processes play a crucial role for the production. In its plant in Poznan, VW has 54 sequencing zones, which are supplied with so-called product baskets. Before the implementation of the pick-byvoice system, Volkswagen Poznan relied on paper pick lists to fill these transport units. Robert Koniezny, head of logistics planning at Volkswagen Poznan says: “When it comes to Picking it is decisive for us that the components are taken from the racks and placed into the product baskets in the proper order. This is the only way to ensure that all components arrive at the related manufacturing station in their correct order and at the right time. Any picking error will affect all downstream processes.”
Picking affects assembly
The complex picking processes affect the programming of the voice software considerably. topVOX has imaged the different sequencing options in Lydia Voice. Torsten Isenhardt, Project Manager at topVOX, explains: “Windscreens are sequenced backwards. Therefore, the picking cart is loaded from the back to the front. However, cardboard boxes with smaller items such as sun protection louvers can be filled unsystematically so that in this case route optimized picking is possible.” The developers adapted some components of the software. In particular, the various types of sequencing were programmed. Before going live the system was put to comprehensive testing by VW Poznan, since even a short breakdown of the picking system may cause a standstill of the production lines.
Error rate reduced by 95 percent
Via Lydia Voice the pickers receive the information about the storage location they have to go to and how many items they should pick. Whilst picking, the employees wear the mobile voice computer Voxter® on their back, so the risk of damaging the withdrawn parts is minimized. The Voxter is connected to a headset via cable. Thus, the picker has both hands free for the picking process. When he arrives at the storage location the picker confirms the warehouse compartment and then the withdrawal of the items by entering the check digits and the taken quantities. In addition, the check digit of the storage compartment of the picking cart, into which the item is placed, is confirmed. This increases process reliability considerably. Compared to the picking list, the error rate with the new system has been reduced by almost 95 percent. Every day almost 60 staff members pick up to 40,000 items. They benefit from increased speed of picking and the assistance provided by voice dialog. In particular, the improved ergonomics has a noticeable effect on the handling of bulky products. The hands-free concept facilitates picking of heavy engine blocks or windscreens. Due to speaker independence, the software facilitates the training of new staff members, without additional voice training. The technology recognizes all speakers – regardless of their gender, dialect or accent. The voice dialog is operated intuitively. After a short training period, the pickers accept the voice system as their personal assistant.
Productivity considerably increased
Shortly after start-up, the pickers at VW Poznan were delighted by the increased work comfort of Lydia Voice Suite. Even the training time of new staff members was reduced by 70 percent. Using Lydia, VW Poznan have increased labour productivity by 30 percent and sequencing quality. “Due to the ongoing professional support we receive in Polish and the high competence of topVOX, we were able to realize this project in such a short time. Lydia is the perfect system for supplying our production lines since it takes not only Just-in-time into account, but also Just-in-sequence processes.” says Robert Konieczny. Volkswagen Poznan plans to use the ergonomic picking vest Lydia VoiceWear® in future.
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