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North Wholesaler Has Its Ear To The Ground

4th July 2007

One of Wick's longest-established businesses has proved it has its ear to the ground by introducing a ground-breaking, high-tech computerised system that automatically guides staff to the right area of its warehouse.

The system at Sutherland Brothers Ltd has been assisted with a 24,000 grant from HIE Caithness and Sutherland and allows staff to hear instructions through headphones which help them select the correct item to add to customer orders.

The north wholesaler has embraced the latest technology by introducing the integrated 'voicepicking' system in a bid to improve efficiency and become more competitive.

Thanks to an incorporated multilingual facility, the new system also enables the business to overcome any language problems it has previously encountered in employing staff from Eastern Europe, particularly Polish staff who are very keen to work there.

Managing director David Sutherland said: "Due to an increase in turnover of staff, we looked for a system that could allow us to train new personnel in a shorter time, while ensuring a high degree of accuracy.

"The new system has virtually eliminated mistakes which has reduced costs and improved the service we give to our customers. This has helped make us more competitive and the multilingual option means that we have a larger pool of labour from which to select."

Keith Muir, a development manager with HIE Caithness and Sutherland has been impressed at how Sutherland Brothers Ltd manages its business.

"Sutherland Brothers have embraced new technology in a bid to move their business forward in a very competitive trading environment. David and his team have been prepared to invest a great deal of time and energy in developing this technology to serve their own needs as well making a significant financial contribution to it. This commitment throughout the firm has been key to the success of the whole project.

"Investment in technology to streamline business processes can be the key to unlocking a number of business opportunities whether you're a sole trader or major firm.

"HIE Caithness and Sutherland can help local businesses find out how they can grow by using e-commerce and technology to greater effect," he said.

Sutherland Brothers Ltd supplies a wide range of goods from frozen foods, groceries and cleaning products to drinks, confectionery and hardware items to independent retailers, hotels, restaurants, schools, caterers and others from its warehouse in Wick.

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