Keeping the ‘Grand’ in Edy’s Grand Ice Cream

In 1928, ice cream maker William Dreyer and candy maker Joseph Edy founded a small ice cream factory on Grand Avenue in Oakland, CA and the rest is history... Today, as part of the Nestle family, Dreyer’s/Edy’s Grand Ice Cream is a $2 billion a year success story.

Known for uncompromising quality and tantalizing flavors, Dreyer’s/Edy’s Grand Ice Cream is the best-selling brand of packaged ice cream and premium frozen desserts in the U.S. On the international front, sales in the Far East, the Caribbean and South America have tripled in recent years. Among the ingredients for keeping customers satisfied, ensuring accurate order selection with Vocollect Voice.

The Challenge - Productivity at 20 Below

“Grand” has been part of the Dreyer’s/Edy’s name ever since the company was founded nearly 75 years ago. It’s both a reminder of its Grand Avenue birthplace and a testament to their products, whether marketed as Dreyer’s (in Texas and states west of the Rockies) or Edy’s (east of the Rockies).

Grand ice cream requires many things, including the coldest environment for any food product - 40°F during hardening and -20°F during storage, to keep flavor and consistency at their very best. While -20°F is optimal for ice cream, it’s impossible for most equipment, including anything with an LCD screen as most canners can only tolerate up to -4°F.

For people working in the freezer picking customer orders, -20°F can be almost unbearable. And it’s a constant challenge, handling a paper list and marking off items with a pencil (ink would freeze), or trying to key data into a hand-held device, while wearing thick gloves. It’s also very slow, which prolongs the time people have to spend in the freezer.

For the company, the extreme cold poses a challenge as well - ensuring that every customer order is filled as accurately and efficiently as possible. Because Edy’s services the premium and superpremium markets, and offers high-end products, if a store runs out of stock, it misses a big sale. And, from the customer’s point of view, “out of stock” doesn’t just mean Edy’s ice cream. When that craving hits, nothing but Cherry Chocolate Chip or Ultimate Caramel Cup will do.

The Solution - Talkman on Ice

After implementing a number of operational improvements in recent years, management at two of the larger Edy’s distribution centers, in Chicago, IL, and Rockaway, NJ, believed they were running nearly as accurately and productively as they could. Moving on to a new level would require a new type of effort - and the technology to support it. Independently, each DC came to the same conclusion - voice-enabling technology.

After due diligence, the Chicago facility selected and installed the Vocollect Talkman. Rockaway followed
suit, but completed its installation even more quickly, as it was able to build upon the experience at the first site.

In both locations, Talkman systems were integrated into the existing WMS, as well as an RF system that transmits data/voice translations between the wireless Talkman computers and the facility’s host system.

Ultimately, all 100+ order selectors at these sites wear a lightweight Talkman unit on a belt, under the bib of their freezer suit, to help them do their jobs. All week long, Talkman continues to prove that it is engineered to stand up to the coldest temperatures. It’s also able to deal with high noise levels; with fans and compressors running, ambient noise in the freezer can reach 80 decibels. In addition, Talkman can accommodate a wide range of speech patterns and language needs. The system speaks most major languages, but because it standardizes work process commands, Edy’s has found that most workers are comfortable hearing commands in English. If they choose to answer in Spanish, for example, it’s no problem. Talkman’s speaker-dependent technology accepts whatever verbalization the individual trains the system to recognize.

The Results - Sweet Success

Edy’s measures mispicks more stringently than many other companies. To Edy’s, an order is either completely right or completely wrong, because that’s the way their customers see it. By that standard, the results at Chicago and Rockaway are all the more impressive - mispicks are down 50% with Talkman on the job. At the same time, productivity is up a solid 15%.

One key reason is that workers can now run a number of separate orders as one pick assignment. At any given stop, they can select items for two or more orders, stacking them on separate carts. They’re able to run one trip, but fill multiple orders - and do so more accurately and more efficiently than ever before. It doesn’t take long for that combination to pay off. Also, the Edy’s facilities have noted a very quick acceptance of Talkman. A few weeks was more than enough time for employees to get used to working in a new way - and more than enough to balk at ever going back to the old. The learning curve was even faster at Rockaway, as some people had trained in Chicago.

Finally, managers instrumental in the move to voice-directed picking have reported that, from the start, Talkman performed exactly as expected. The Vocollect site team had the entire system up and running - and people working very comfortably with it - in a matter of days. The result was a fast and easy transition to the new system, helped along by any support as needed. And now, a hardworking system that stands up to the toughest conditions, even -20°F. . . which is certainly grand indeed.

Voice Results

Objectives
Accurate order selection in a harsh environment

Application
Order selection

Installation
Vocollect Voice seamlessly integrated with ‘home grown’ WMS
Vocollect Talkman® T2 Mobile Computing Devices Results
Accuracy level increased by 50%
Productivity increased by 15%

ROI
Payback in less than 12 months