Burris Logistics Case Study

Using Vocollect Voice® to Provide Customer Service that is Better than the Rest

Burris Logistics is the seventh-largest cold storage, third-party logistics (3PL) distribution company (DC) in the United States, according to the International Refrigerated Transportation Association. Founded in 1925 and headquartered in Milford, Del., the fifth-generation family-owned business provides goods and logistical services for retailers, wholesalers and processors, many of them ‘household-name’ companies located primarily in the Eastern United States. The 1,700 employee company distributes to retailers and wholesalers in 710 locations and operates 17 refrigerated- and frozen-food warehouses, which comprise 70 million cubic feet of refrigerated and freezer space in more than two million square feet of DC space.
Several years ago, Burris began investigating technology improvement options for its DC operations. Ultimately, the company decided to use Vocollect Voice.

The Challenge - Third-Party Logistics Providers (3PL): Always in the Hot Seat

While the economic downturn has challenged third-party logistics (3PL) companies, it has also given them the chance to uncover more opportunities to provide value and apply creative ways to become more competitive. But many companies face a number of challenges in implementing these changes. They must deliver outstanding service, make accurate, on-time deliveries, and do so as cost-effectively as possible.

While grocery- and non-grocery retailers have many options when it comes to choosing a 3PL company, only a few – like Burris Logistics – manage to sustain strong customer service levels in the face of these challenges.

“Vocollect has been instrumental in helping Burris maintain its high levels of service. The technology has helped give Burris more satisfied customers so the business can continue to expand based on positive customer referrals’, according to Ed Krupka, president of Burris Information Technology and chief information officer. “As we like to say, “ ‘Real-time operations enable real-time management.’ We use Vocollect Voice to capture real results that we can compare to the work-job standard rate. The Vocollect system gives managers a real-time view into individual worker performance. Now managers have a fair and accurate representation of performance, which is a strong tool for the company’s incentive program. They also have a coaching tool – whenever a worker asks for performance feedback, the manager can provide a concrete answer.”

The Results - Vocollect Voice at Burris Today

Today, Burris operates 17 distribution centers (DC), six of which use voice in their day-to-day operations. The nearly 200 people working in these refrigerated and frozen warehouse locations use Vocollect for case-picking and pallet-picking. Every week, employees use voice to select more than 1.5 million cases of product that are shipped to more than 1,000 retail locations across the country. Burris’ operations comprise over 2.5 million square feet of distribution space, including DCs shipping to the retail segment, and also those providing storage and distribution through 3PL services at Burris’ other facilities.

Burris uses Vocollect Voice for order selection with frozen food, ice cream, bakery, dairy and meats, many of which have varying catch-weights. Instead of stopping to read and write down label information during order selection, employees are now directed by voice to the pick location where they are told what product to select – and confirm the selection by speaking check digits to capture EAN128 barcodes, date codes and case serial numbers. In one proprietary operation, a packaged foods company requires validation of bar codes on its cases to support data code lot-tracking and traceability. Burris employs Vocollect Voice to support this need, as well.

“Although we selected voice to help us hone our operational efficiencies, we’ve found that it has done so much more for our DC operations,” said Krupka “With Vocollect, we’ve improved our inventory and order accuracy, and we’ve sustained and enhanced our customer service at a time when we were rapidly expanding our business.” The hands-free/eyes-free aspect of voice has also improved worker safety, because people can focus on the task at hand rather than having to constantly pick up and put down a device.

“Vocollect has really helped us to maximize our warehouse management system (WMS) investment. Its real-time interface helps us identify lapsed times for tracking. We’ve been able to track every kind of DC product we move. In addition, we’ve been able to integrate voice into our Engineered Labor Standards (ELS) initiative. The strong measurement capacity voice delivers has enabled the ELS effort to succeed in our operation,” says Krupka. “We’ve also experienced additional time savings, which has ultimately helped us cut costs. And because order selectors no longer need to report out-of-stocks in selection bins, we’ve achieved “zero wait time.”

Further, using Vocollect helps improve the quality of work life for Burris employees who are non-native English speakers, which is important, because the staff is quite culturally diverse. Employees’ ability to respond to the system in their native language helps them feel more in control of their job; thus, it is easier to perform well.

“With our paper-based system, picking was an awkward and slow process. We had so many environmental challenges in a freezer operation, and the gloves people had to wear made it hard to perform simple tasks. We had countless labels fall off boxes because the adhesive wouldn’t stick, and quite frequently, pens wouldn’t even write at minus 20 degrees.”

“Many times our folks have told us, ‘Please don’t EVER make me go back to picking with labels!’ With Vocollect, not only have we met that request; we’ve also improved accuracy and productivity to help us save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.” concludes Krupka.

Voice Results

Increase accuracy
Improve productivity
Reduce training time
Reduce operating costs
Increase customer satisfaction

Order selection Installation
Vocollect Voice seamlessly integrated with Burris’ legacy WMS

Accuracy increased from 99.6% to 99.97%
Increased productivity from 15% to 25%
Eliminating labels and significant reduction in paper, labels, and toner supplies resulted in savings of $250,000 annually in one location
Enabled voice to support Engineered Labor Standards (ELS)
Training time reduced significantly

Payback in less than 10 months