Numina Group Blog

Retailer Increases Picking Productivity by 35% and Accuracy to 99.9% with Numina Warehouse Automation

June 13, 2024

A leading specialty retailer with over 250 retail stores knew that it could significantly boost order fulfillment productivity with warehouse automation.

The question was, which technology would offer the company the best performance results and ROI?

The team contacted the Numina Group, an independent warehouse systems integrator, to explore its options.


All the retailer’s store and e-commerce orders were fulfilled in its 350,000-square-foot distribution center (DC), which manages 1 million active SKUs and a high daily order volume. Sales represented 90% of the DC’s order fulfillment volume, with e-commerce sales accounting for the balance.

The warehouse operation relied on a primarily manual paper-based picking process that required picking and replenishment from random forward high-density pick shelf locations. Workers used paper pick tickets and price label sheets to manage the picking and to apply price labels across four main pick zones.

Workers would follow paper instructions to pick discrete orders and manually apply price labels on each item picked for a single store in each zone. Picks per store would range from 30 to 300 items into a series of totes.

At pick completion, the totes were placed on a conveyor that transported and sorted the totes to each store’s specific staging and shipping area. Approximately 63 retail store orders are picked each day. Stores typically receive 35 to 40 totes, while larger stores receive up to 175.

This labor-intensive process was a drain on the company’s profit margin.

Blog: Order Picking Automation Options to Resolve Warehouse Labor Shortage Challenges

Embarking on the Order Fulfillment Process Design Study

Numina Group first performed a process design study to benchmark current performance and determine which technology was the best investment to increase order fulfillment productivity.

During the warehouse design study, Numina warehouse engineers collaborated with the company’s logistics executives and operation team to review its current picking and store delivery processes, identify areas for improvement, and then define and flowchart a leaner process that would streamline and improve the picking operation.

The team also reviewed possible technology options. It quickly became apparent that a multi-modal voice-picking solution that combines voice commands and responses with barcode scanning to direct and validate workers’ tasks in the pick-and-pack fulfillment operation could meet productivity improvement goals and provide a one-year ROI.

Solution – RDS™ WES-WCS with Victory Voice™

The Numina Group was hired to implement its Real-time Distribution System (RDS™) Warehouse Execution System (WES) and RDS Victory Voice™ Suite. RDS is integrated to exchange real-time information with the company’s WMS – JDA Merchandise Management solution.

The RDS Victory Voice Suite is an integral component of the RDS WES platform. It can be deployed as a voice-directed application for warehouse picking, replenishment, and inspection applications. It can also be combined with other warehouse technology, such as automated conveyors, packing automation, and print-and-apply labeling for end-to-end order fulfillment automation.

Victory Voice includes flexible, configurable functionality that extends beyond traditional systems. For example, at this customer’s retail distribution center, it added wave pick optimization and batch picking in addition to the store item price label printing to the existing WMS.

Victory Voice manages the batch cart pick process and balances order picking across the pick zones.

Voice-Directed Picking Process

The retail fulfillment voice-directed pick process is closely coupled to the WMS and works like this:

  • The WMS system sends the store order picking details and item location map to RDS.
  • RDS builds order waves of 1 to 6 store batch carts optimized for the most efficient operator walk paths to eliminate unnecessary steps.
  • RDS sends the pick plan to the WMS to batch print store tote ID labels and item price labels that match the walk path order for each store.
  • Voice commands direct the operators for cart loading in the cart pick zones and at the high-volume, fastest-moving SKU zone, which uses a pick-and-pass conveyor process.
  • RDS directs workers through voice commands received via a headset, combined with a wearable mobile computer to complete tasks.
  • Pickers perform each voice-directed picking and labeling task hands-free – eyes focused!
  • At each location, the operator is prompted with the pick location and verifies the location by scanning the check digit, which causes a voice prompt for the quantity pick of the required item.
  • At pick completion, the operator uses the voice response “OK” to validate the quantity picked.
  • RDS Voice then directs the picker on the placement of the items to the store-specific tote.
  • RDS returns all pick transactions to the WMS for inventory records and provides data for labor management and operational productivity reporting.

Pilot Project Resolves Questions, Exceeds Performance Expectations

Because the workforce had never used voice-picking technology, the customer had concerns about their workers’ adoption of voice technology and the voice-picking solution’s ability to achieve the estimated ROI.

The company’s original goal was to increase average picks by 30% per hour, from 195 lines to 257 lines, with automation. “We had to prove to ourselves that we could get a 30% productivity gain before we deployed it to the entire workforce,” said the operations manager.

A pilot implementation was initially conducted with 20 pickers to prove its viability. After the initial success, the trial period was expanded to 40 pickers, eventually to all 100 workers.

  • During the pilot, a 20% productivity increase occurred on the first day due to the ease of learning facilitated by RDS Victory Voice’s speaker-independent voice technology.
  • Within weeks, the workforce had exceeded the 30% goal.
  • Workers soon advanced above a 35% productivity increase, with the highest-performing workers achieving a 60% productivity increase.

“At the same time, we identified several additional enhancements that would yield even higher productivity when the solution was deployed to our entire workforce,” the operations manager said.

Order Picking Accuracy Increases to 99.9%

Paper-based picking can lead to product mispicks, quantity errors, and order problems. By eliminating paper-based picking, RDS has enabled the company to eliminate picking errors and improve order accuracy.

The RDS solution’s voice-enforced pick and pack processes, combined with barcode scan validation, have prevented picking item and quantity errors, resulting in a smooth, single-touch process with 99.9% accuracy rates.

Video: 99.9% Order Picking Accuracy with RDS Victory Voice

RDS Labor Tracking Provides Tracking to Support Employee Incentive Program

The company also took advantage of RDS labor management and reporting tools to further boost workforce performance. RDS adds operator accountability through Web-based labor management tools that record the accuracy and performance of the operators.

These RDS features allow the management team to view operational productivity from any PC, tablet, or portable device, with real-time production statistics for any worker. Views and reports provide worker performance feedback that displays individual and team hourly and daily production results. This real-time reporting capability has proven beneficial in recognizing and rewarding workers who exceed their goals.

Blog: Labor Tracking & Performance Metrics of Voice Picking

“Once we started tracking the labor productivity measurements, we saw that some of our associates were excelling,” said the operations manager. “This prompted us to put in an incentive program for our workers. If they maintain an accuracy level of at least 99.6% and reach at least a 30% higher productivity level than the designated standards, they qualify as a Voice Professional (VP), which earns them recognition within the order-picking team, as well as a wage increase as part of our bonus plan.”


By deploying Numina’s RDS WES and Victory Voice Suite, the retail company has successfully met and surpassed its productivity goals, increased order accuracy to 99.9%, and gained a valuable labor tracking tool that has opened the door to new employee incentive programs.

With Numina’s scalable solution, the company can quickly respond to surges in order volume without adding to headcount.


The Numina Group is a top-tier designer and integrator of warehouse automation solutions, offering decades of experience in warehouse design, warehouse software, material handling equipment, systems integration, and implementation services for mid-to-large-sized enterprises.

Our team has designed and successfully implemented over 1,000 warehouse automation projects in diverse warehouse environments throughout North America.

Contact us to schedule a complimentary on-site warehouse assessment today.

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