What you should know about voice picking in the warehouse?

Firstly, what is voice picking?

Voice picking helps you improve the processes in your warehouse. It is also known as pick by voice or voice-directed picking. This speeds up the picking process and reduces errors which helps you generate cost savings and improve customer satisfaction. Whilst it’s usually used in the warehouse, voice can also be used in other environments and processes, such as cross-docking, pick and pack, receiving, put-away and cycle counting. See voice picking at work in this video.

The reasons people use voice in their daily lives has major impacts on the warehouse space, such as: 

•             It’s convenient

•             It’s simple to use

•             It’s faster than typing

What equipment should I use for voice picking?

Order pickers are equipped with a mobile terminal and headset. You can use either a voice dedicated terminal, which has voice as the only interface, or you can use a general-purpose mobile terminal.

I only have ten order pickers, is it worth investing in voice picking?

Voice can be used in projects with five to ten voice pickers and projects with several hundred spanning different continents. A business case for voice picking will depend on various factors including:

  • number of errors during order picking
  • cost per error
  • number of picking lines per order
  • number of grabs per picking line
  • number of on-time shipments
  • number of orders shipped complete
  • inventory count accuracy

I have many temporary workers, does a pick by voice system require a lot of training?

Voice picking is ideal for environments with many seasonal workers. The system guides the operators through tasks, with simple and easy to understand voice dialogues. This means the need for training is dramatically reduced. As it’s powered by a MCL Voice speech engine, it copes particularly well with different dialects.

Can I use voice technology only for picking?

Voice can be used in a variety of warehouse processes. This includes:

  • Cross-docking
  • Pick by line
  • Picking to conveyor
  • Picking combined with put to light
  • Inventory
  • Quality control
  • Receiving
  • Put-away
  • Replenishment

Voice picking can also be used outside your warehouse including on the manufacturing lines and in stores.

Do I need to change my RF system if I start with voice picking?

The voice picking application only sends data (text files) to the host system. The text-to-speech and speech-to-text conversion happen on the terminal so there are no specific requirements for your RF-network. You can contact us for a site survey of the wireless infrastructure in your warehouse.

What ROI can I expect from a voice picking project?

Voice picking projects have a relatively short ROI, typically between 6 and 12 months.

While voice only speech directed solutions deliver strong 15% to 30% productivity increases in order picking, multi-modal speech directed solutions allow enterprises to achieve an additional 15.4% in incremental productivity over voice only solutions — each worker can now process more orders per day, boosting throughput without hiring additional staff.

Can I use voice picking in a cool or freezer warehouse?

Voice picking system can operate in ambient, cold and deep freeze environments. Ensure the hardware devices you select are compatible.

Voice Picking in the warehouse is only the beginning, it goes way beyond that.

Voice and wearable devices in the warehouse isn’t anything new, but more recent innovations are getting interesting with easy integration with WMS solutions and customisable dialog options that move beyond picking such as general warehouse operations, equipment status updates, and details on customers

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

Because repetitive processes such as picking put away and general order fulfilment accounts for nearly 70% of operating costs this is an area of focus for many device manufacturers. Devices are designed to optimise these processes, reducing labour costs for high volume supply chain businesses. These devices also help to improve workforce productivity, safety and efficiency with their hands-free operation.

By working hands free, warehouse staff can focus more closely on the task at hand with a wider range of motion. This helps to increase employee effectiveness and facilitates timelier task completion. Wearable devices also help to reduce “touchpoints” or the number of steps required to complete a task. By simplifying processes, warehouse staff can complete more tasks in less time – a desirable outcome for high volume order processing. Both labour and device TCO savings can be recognised with the adoption of ruggedised wearables through process optimisation and durable construction. Replacing manual, paper-based processes with wearable devices also helps to reduce data entry and inventory processing errors. Warehouse staff can also expect a safer and more comfortable experience when using wearables. They are designed with superior ergonomics, making them easy to handle and operate. And with the superior accessory packages and device configurability supply chain operations will see more device and operational flexibility.

If your 3PL, warehousing or distribution operation could benefit from process optimisation and cost reductions, wearable device implementation is a good first step. With 70% of operating costs hanging in the balance, it is a consideration worth making.

About us:

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.