Bulmers - Transforming Productivity and Accuracy for a Leading Drinks Producer
Synonymous with beverage production since the 1930s, Bulmers is one of Ireland’s leading beverage manufacturers and distributors.
As an appointed supplier to the parent company, C&C Group, since 1999, Timewise Systems began working with Bulmers in 2003, providing hardware solutions (handheld and vehicle-mounted computers) as part of the Group contract. While the project was very successful for the movement of assets throughout the warehouse, there remained some operational challenges within the pick and pack function. These were, however, beyond contract scope at the time.
In 2005, Bulmers set about resolving these challenges and contacted Timewise Systems with a new batch of vehicle-mounted computers in mind. We took this opportunity to introduce the potential improvements that an alternative approach could bring to the organisation’s productivity and accuracy rates – namely voice-directed technology. Although not entirely convinced at first, a live system demonstration at an existing client’s warehouse proved compelling and Bulmers commissioned a customised voice-directed system from us.
Following consultation with the client’s IT and Operations teams, along with detailed on-site analysis and review, we designed a comprehensive voice-directed system for Bulmers. Interfacing live into the client’s host package, the system includes voice-directed software and dedicated voice-directed hardware which allows operators to work with their hands and eyes free. Tailored to meet the client’s specific operational circumstances, and incorporating our device management and full 24/7 support services, the system went live in 2006 and delivered immediate positive results.
As the company has grown through the years and experienced changes in capacity and IT requirements, Bulmers has consistently maintained its original voice-directed infrastructure and preserved maximum operational uptime. Integrating seamlessly with the parent back-end system, the flexibility of our solution allows Bulmers to optimise its assets and streamline production activities across its bonded and duty-paid warehouses.
ERP systems can be cumbersome and restrictive and are regularly unable to keep pace with the operational needs of a busy warehouse or distribution centre. By plugging into the host system, our solution extracts key data, presents it to the client in an actionable format and then feeds the necessary information back to the host in a seamless data cycle. New functionality can be added simply and efficiently, avoiding the convoluted process and high costs associated with ERP change requests.
Much to our own and our client’s pride, the innovation of the voice-directed system we created for Bulmers was recognised by the coveted BT Inspired IT Project of the Year Award for 2006. Perhaps an even bigger testament to its success is that the same voice software we installed for Bulmers back then is still being used to manage operations today. Simple changes and updates are implemented on a routine basis, but these are configuration adjustments rather than anything development-based – meaning they are quick, cost-effective and cause minimal interruption to operations.
The operational stability generated by our system has brought with it exceptional improvements. Productivity increased by over 30% and a 99.99% accuracy rate has been reached across the pick and pack function. The system provides Bulmers with full visibility and traceability over its activities, assisting with distribution queries, enhancing customer service, discouraging fraud and easily resolving delivery disputes. Resource management, both of stock and staff, has become efficient and predictable.
Not only has the system introduced substantial performance benefits for Bulmers, but it also delivers significant financial advantages. In fact, the savings achieved through increased productivity, minimised stock losses, reduced labour expenditure and simplified administration more than covered the cost of the system within the first six months of deployment.
Working with Timewise Systems for the last 20 years has been one of the best partnerships we have formed as a business. Given the number of IT activities we operate, our relationship with Timewise Systems and the running of our voice-directed, handheld and vehicle-mounted system components have always been easy, uncomplicated and effective.
And the impact on our productivity and accuracy rates has been dramatic. We have experienced minimal system issues over the past two decades but, if anything ever crops up, the team is always there to identify and resolve the problem, making sure our business is supported 24/7. We really feel they have our best interests at heart and are invested in our success.
- Brenda Lonergan
Business Analyst, Bulmers
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