Voice technology is not just for the “big boys” any more.
Warehouses and distribution centres are dynamic environments where many different challenges arise and managers play a difficult balancing act of minimising employee turnover to avoid continuous training and re-training, adjusting processes to efficiently balance work volume and planning for demand fluctuation to accommodate seasonal spikes. Could voice be the answer?
Voice technology can scale to match changing business requirements and offers a solution to empower management with greater control, flexibility and visibility into operations on the floor.
There is a common misapprehension that you do not require a WMS if you are utilising a voice picking solution or vice versa. Voice technology allows multiple processes such as picking, cycle counting, and put-away to be automated with voice based interaction with users that significantly improves picking accuracy and times.
However, a voice system does not optimise all functions within a warehouse and assign warehouse work in the most optimal way. In addition, a best of breed WMS expands beyond the four walls of the distribution centre to integrate with suppliers (supplier enablement/supplier integration) and customers. These extended features are not found in voice enablement technology.
Voice solutions help businesses increase worker productivity up to 35%, while reducing errors up to 25%, and training time up to 50%.
Voice technology uses speech recognition and speech synthesis to allow workers to communicate verbally with the warehouse management system (WMS). Workers use a wireless, wearable computer with a headset and microphone, which links to the server via a radio frequency network.
For example, the order picker is instructed by voice, via the headset, what to pick and where to pick it. He then verbally confirms his actions back to the WMS system through the microphone.
In a complex and high intensity warehouse where there are multiple picking locations that require pickers to be fast and accurate, a voice-directed system can be implemented to improve picking accuracy and the speed of the pick performed by the warehouse staff.
- 99% picking accuracy
- 10-35% productivity improvement over paper based systems
- 6-12 months ROI
- Improved stock rotation
- Better warehouse space utilisation
- Reduced movements
- Lower labour and equipment costs
- Less misplaced stock and stock losses
- Lower stock holdings
- Less money tied up in working capital
- Higher customer service levels
Simplicity is often the best route to productivity. But in order to maintain control of inventory and manage the fulfillment process, operations often arm employees with scanners or paper pick lists, keeping their hands occupied and adding extra complication to the picking process. This enforces an effective ceiling on employee productivity and operational success, risking insufficient stock on store shelves and missed shipping cut off times. In contrast, voice technology reduces steps required to complete a task and keeps pickers’ hands free and eyes up, improving safety, ergonomics and increasing productivity up to 35 percent.
Voice Picking Process:
The system allows warehouse staff to concentrate on the picking process without looking at paperwork and having both hands free to perform the pick. The system uses speech recognition and speech synthesis to allow warehouse operators who are performing the picks to communicate with a Warehouse Management System (WMS).
The staff on the warehouse floor uses a headset and microphone to receive instructions by voice, and verbally confirm their actions back to the system.
The warehouse operator will normally read back the last 2 or 3 digits of the item they have picked so that the system can check the correct item has been selected. The WMS will then give the operator the next instruction based on the algorithm in the WMS system.
In a world where you need every competitive advantage – and supplying your customers what they want, when they want it (and spending as little money accomplishing that as possible), voice picking might be the solution you and your optimised supply chain are looking for.
Reconciling systems from multiple vendors can be a challenge, leading operations to dedicate significant IT resources to integration in order to reap the full benefit of technology investments. Intelligrated’s flexible voice platform enables easy integration with other Intelligrated system components or existing facility infrastructure. Combined with a WES, WMS, WCS or ERP system, Intelligrated voice solutions come as a fully-integrated solution that not only provides clear task instructions, but communicates and interacts with multiple enterprise software systems. On the floor, it’s compatible with the broadest range of rugged, non-proprietary mobility hardware, avoiding vendor lock-in while quickly embracing the latest mobility innovations that come to market.
Voice technology is not just for the “big boys” any more.
Simplified WMS integrations solutions make voice implementation straight forward for any size business. The emergence of multi-modal hardware solutions also mean that distribution centres with smaller teams can have team members easily move between voice enabled processes and non-voice processes. Voice technology represents a strong ROI for any distribution professional who wishes to improve productivity, accuracy and the safety of warehouse employees.
Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.
Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.
ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution, online fulfillment and manufacturing warehousing.