Supplies of airport shops rely on a wide-ranging system capable of handling a large number of processes.
Founded in 1958, International Duty Free operates a chain of stores in the Zaventem and Charleroi airports. Its centre of operations, from which goods are despatched to the shops, is located near Zaventem airport. In January 2009, the company adopted a voice stock picking system developed by Zetes to facilitate and speed up the preparation and distribution of orders.
From PDA's to voice
International Duty Free’s logistics team manages all supply chain processes, from the point of delivery until goods are stacked on airport shop shelves. Before switching to a voice-operated system, the order pickers at International Duty Free used PDAs, which worked with an interface based on the old system. Pickers could upload an order, and then remove the relevant quantity of articles displayed on screen. Data was then synchronised and a dispatch statement was printed out. However, the PDA system was in urgent need of replacement. The monochrome and worn screens were not easy to read, pickers couldn’t work with both hands free and in the end it became impossible to find spare parts. At that time the company decided to introduce voice technology to their processes.
“The pickers are delighted with the system. In fact, they can work with both hands free, which is much more convenient than with the portable terminals we were using previously.”
Geert De Belie, Head of Logistics at International Duty Free
Highly varied processes
One of the biggest challenges facing International Duty Free’s logistics is the sheer diversity of their processes. Goods such as clothes or perfumes are processed in a very different way as books or fresh foods. After a detailed analysis, Zetes developed two applications for International Duty Free: one which scanned goods before delivery and another without scanning for order picking. In order to solve the problem of frequently changing good locations due to high turnover, the order pickers can ask the system exactly what title he has to select. For clothes and books, a barcode scanner further aids picking. The scanner and the headset communicate with the hardware via Bluetooth.
Another specific feature of International Duty Free’s logistics processes is Pick-and-Pack. This makes it possible to pick goods, which are then directly placed in plastic bins. In order to be transported, these bins are placed in rolling containers, one for each shop. Containers and bins are each given a unique number by a voice command. When the containers are full, they are almost immediately placed on trucks that are constantly shuttling between the International Duty Free warehouse and Zaventem airport. The unique identification number of the bins makes it much easier to trace the articles in the shops.
The solution at a glance
The corner stones of the system
- Voice solution for order picking
- Voice solution combined with barcode scanning for special items
- Barcode scanning for put-away
- Bin-to-bin application to move around stock in the warehouse
- Stock inventory application
- Pick & pack application for order picking
Integration with SAP
- Enhanced traceability
- Better user ergonomics
- Easy handling of special items (books, clothes, etc.) during order picking
- Quicker and easier order preparation
- Streamlined operations
Following a rebranding exercise, Zetes’ logistics execution solution using voice technology is now called ZetesMedea Voice (formerly 3iV Crystal). All features and functionalities remain valid.