Burris Logistics, a Milford DE-based temperature-controlled third-party logistics provider, recognizes a hot idea when it sees one.

When accuracy at its Federalsburg MD distribution center increased to 99.88% and productivity improved by 11.9% after implementation of Vocollect’s voice-directed distribution system, Burris decided to make Vocollect standard at all of its warehouse operations—more than 50 million square feet of refrigerated storage in 13 facilities.

The Federalsburg facility was tapped for the pilot project, which went live in April 2004, because it is Burris’ highest-performing facility. The voice-directed distribution system is built on Vocollect’s industrial speech recognition technology and the Talkman wearable voice computer featuring the Microsoft Windows CE operating system and 802.11b WiFi compatibility. Burris completed development of a direct interface between its existing warehouse management system and the Vocollect system in just a few weeks.

According to Ed Givens, vice-president of distribution at Federalsburg, voice-directed technology replaces slow, error-prone paper- and sticker-based order selection systems, and provides equipment that operates flawlessly in temperatures as low as –20° F. Employees’ ability to work “hands-free, eyes-free” without pick lists and labels increased productivity and cut annual labor costs.

“The savings add up fast in a number of areas, along with the return on investment,” says Ed Krupka, vice-president of Burris Information Technology. “We expect to hit payback on our voice system in only 10 months.”