Leading Dutch Grocer Uses Voxware to Voice-Enable Warehouses

Dutch food retailer Albert Heijn, a unit of the worldwide retail food conglomerate Royal Ahold, has deployed Voxware’s voice picking solution in four regional distribution centers (DC’s) throughout the Netherlands, and plans to begin installing it in two national DC’s in January.

With the VoiceXML-based solution, warehouse workers at Albert Heijn’s warehouses will be able to communicate, in Dutch or Polish, with the company’s automated warehouse management system. The system operates on Motorola MC3090 mobile computers, and allows workers to receive picking assignments through voice-guided commands. Built in speech recognition systems lets workers log into the system, respond to orders, update stock-keeping information, and let the system know when each task is completed, all by the sound of their voices.

Vanboxtel, Voxware’s strategic partner in the Netherlands, delivered and installed the Voxware 3.0 system at Albert Heijn. Once the full rollout is complete across all of the grocer’s DCs, work assignments will be voice-enabled for more than 5,000 warehouse employees, making this one of the largest deployments of a voice-enabled warehouse system in the world, according to officials at Lawrenceville, N.J.-based Voxware.

"Three years ago there was no place for voice at Albert Heijn," Boudewijn Canrinus, director of business processes and systems at Albert Heijn, said in a statement. "We were already using handheld [radio frequency] terminals and achieving high productivity rates. We considered deploying voice, and knew that our worker productivity rates would increase even more. However, at the time the limited number of voice providers resulted in costly investment prices and prevented us from preparing a valid business case for voice."

Today, those prices have come down, and Voxware’s open-standards solution has enabled more choices in the hardware market. "The resulting downward pressure on prices made it sensible for us to try voice at this time and allowed us to select the software and device of our choice," Canrinus said.

Voxware's solutions have already been installed in many of Royal Ahold's other supermarket and foodservice operations around the world, including U.S. Foodservice.

SpeechTek Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues