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Innovation: Coke benefits from Cisco in the Warehouse with UC Voice Picking

April 4, 2011
at 3:47 pm PST

I was reminded by a colleague who visited the Promat 2011 event recently of a case study that catches the imagination whenever we talk about it. My colleague had met up with the folks from Datria at the event. Datria were showing the Cisco and Datria Unified Communications (UC) Voice Picking Solution that Coca-Cola Refreshments U.S.A. (CCR) uses (CCR used to be called Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. before acquisition) in 100 locations or more to date.

Coke fork-lift truck drivers Use these Cisco phones with headsets to pick products more accurately and drive more safely.

For years Coke used a manual pick system Then they moved to a semi-automated one that could deal with full pallets, but then, with more and more products being added, Coca-Cola Refreshments U.S.A (CCR) found that it needed a better system to handle mixed pallets and make less shipment errors. Enter Cisco and Datria.

Way back in 2007, CCR began looking for differentiating technologies, techniques and methodologies that would improve order accuracy. A combination of Cisco, Datria and SAP proved the best solution as CCR chose the Cisco and Datria Warehouse Unified Communications Voice Picking Solution.The benefits have proved phenomenal for CCR.

As their order profile changed CCR could no longer rely on a manual system to deal with mixed cases (80% of the order volume is now mixed pallets). CCR needed to have order accuracy rates of over 99.5% to get preferential supplier treatment from customers like Walmart. The Voice picking solution gives CCR 99.8% overall accuracy and 100% in some locations. And there’s more…

Apart from great financial benefits and increased customer satisfaction, CCR is happy that it’s employees like the system. Workers can choose English, Spanish or French (other languages are available) and find the system easier to use (training is simpler and workers can be on-ramped and be productive faster). The System is safer too. Fork-truck drivers look up and forwards more since they don’t have to use a computer or specialist handheld device. The system works by ‘talking’ to the employee and listening to his or her responses. It truly is a ‘Voice’ system!. In fact some Hispanic speaking workers switch to English to improve their language skills!

Mike Jacks, Senior Manager of Logistics Systems talks about Unified Communications (UC) Voice Picking. Check out the phone and handset!

The system is providing real payback for CCR. To find out more there’s a great article in MODERN MATERIALS HANDLING / MARCH 2011.It was published to coincide with Promat -- the reason for my blog. It has quotes from Mike Jacks, CCR Senior Manager of Logistics Systems, such as:

“Since there are a wide variety of facilities in terms of age, sophistication and layout, we needed a solution that was flexible enough to adapt to all of those different scenarios.” After investigating voice, pick-to-light, RFID and bar code scanning, they [the largest 100 CCR facilities] agreed they wanted a solution that allowed for heads-up, hands-free operation by the order selectors. Voice made the most sense. “Bar code scanning delivered the accuracy we wanted, but it wasn’t hands free,” says Jacks.

The article is by Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling, and is one of the best I’ve seen to go into the important details in a thorough way. He also talks about How VoIP works at Coca-Cola at the Modern Materials Handling Website.

You can find out more about the Cisco Datria  Warehouse Unified Communications Voice Picking Solution by clicking on the link. There’s also more about Cisco’s partnership with Datria in the Datria Partner Solution Profile. Finally, here’s a link to the older Technology-based reference article from SAP, Cisco and Datria.. This is one story that continues to evolve for the good of Cisco, our partners, our customer CCR, and their customers too.

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  1. Dan Kern


    I would like to add that Coca-Cola Refreshments has been selected as a Progressive Manufacturing 100 Award Winner for 2011 in the category of Supply Network Mastery by Managing Automation Media and Manufacturing Executive. More details can be found at:

    CCR is expected to be at this year’s Manufacturing Leadership Summit May 9-11 in Palm Beach Florida and will receive this well-deserved award and recognition. For more information on the Summit please visit:


    • Peter Granger

      That’s great Dan – thanks for letting us know! I know Cisco is also at that event, so we look forward to getting an update from you.


  2. Peter -

    I saw the in-depth Coca-Cola Refreshments presentaiton while at ProMat (2 weeksa ago), and Mike did a wonderful job sharing the compelling business benefits Coke achieved with Cisco and Datria! He also did a separate executive session with another company – Roche Diagnostics – who has also deployed the network-based Datria solution with Cisco infrastructure. Great stuff! Thanks for sharing.


    • Peter Granger

      Doug – many thanks for your comments. I expect we’ll be seeing more customers for this Joint Cisco Datria solution moving forward. I’m guessing as word gets out more and more enterprises of different sizes will be going this way.


  3. Peter – Another Cisco customer who added Datria UC Voice Picking to their supply chain operations recently was Merrill Corporation. Word is spreading quickly. – Doug


  4. i was at PROMAT 2011 and didn’t see this.
    I wish i had because i would have insisted that the manufacturers that i work with use this to prevent errors.

    If you only knew how many human errors happen at our manufacturer’s warehouses, and the end users have no one to blame but the middle man.

    great product…


    • Peter Granger

      Hi Tyler – it’s a common problem – thanks for your feedback. We’re hoping adoption of these kinds of solutions in the manufacturing industry will lower error rates and increase customer satisfaction. Thanks again, Peter


  5. I took that cover photo of Mike Jacks for Modern Materials Handling magazine. He couldn’t have been a nicer guy!


    • Peter Granger

      Hi Cy – Well done on a great picture. I had dinner with Mike recently and agree he’s a great guy. Thanks for sharing! Let me know of any other work you’ve done that features Cisco or Cisco customers in any way.