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Simon & Schuster saves $5M/year with Warehouse Control and Voice Picking

Client:  Simon & Schuster, a part of CBS Corporation, is a global leader in the field of general interest publishing, dedicated to providing the best in fiction and nonfiction for consumers of all ages, across all printed, electronic, and audio formats.

Challenge:  Thanks to acquisition, growth and change, Simon & Schuster faced ongoing capacity challenges. Additionally, the uncertainty of the impact of e-books on physical distribution requirements coupled with tight capital budgets completely ruled out the option of expanding their distribution center.

Solution:  After a rigorous bidding and analysis process, Simon & Schuster implemented a solution from AL Systems, comprised of the DynaPro Warehouse Control System with Order Management, DynaPick -Voice Picking software backed by the Voxware voice engine, Conveyor and Sortation Systems Control, Productivity Management and Load Balancing.

The Warehouse Control System directs cartons only to areas where picks are required, while DynaPick – Voice Picking allows pickers to pick to multiple cartons using a “bucket brigade” or pick-and-pass workflow. Using Voice commands, a picker can build a “train” of cartons and pass their train onwards to the next picker upon completing the work in their zone. The solution enables them to work on as many as 10 cartons at a time, which has doubled productivity in the picking area.

Pickers use HX3 rugged wearable computers from LXE, along with integrated ring scanners. Scanning is integrated into the pick-and-pass workflow in logical places – to verify which carton a specific book is being placed into, and also for “on demand” verification of a book’s ISBN number at the pick face, which ensures that the right volume is being selected from shelves that contain many different titles. The worker simply says “verify ISBN” and the voice system accepts a scan from the book’s cover, which is cross-checked to the expected title before the book is placed into a carton.

Results:  Shortly after implementation, Simon & Schuster more than doubled their productivity while increasing accuracy to 99.95%. The Load balancing and Productivity Management tools provide insight into the workload required by zone and enable them to assign workers based on individual productivity and accuracy data. Overall, the solution enabled Simon & Schuster to consolidate two distribution centers into one operation and completely eliminate 50 temporary positions; all this while achieving ROI in approximately 10 months. They now ship over 150 million units a year from just one distribution center!


"We were doing about 50-60 lines per hour. And with DynaPick - Voice Picking we found out quickly that changes to 120 lines per hour almost overnight. So the speed and efficiencies gained with Voice were second to none."
Director of Operations, Simon & Schuster

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