People have been dreaming about interacting with technology through voice commands since the days of Star Trek and Knight Rider. Once considered a “crazy idea”, voice-directed and autonomous vehicles are quickly moving from the realm of fantasy to reality. Just think how many of us rely on the power of Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa to perform voice directed commands and help us answer simple inquiries. In the world of distribution solutions and supply chain productivity, voice technology is not a future vision, but rather today’s reality of how to “Solve It Smarter”.
Voice picking is known by many names – Voice-Directed Warehousing (VDW), Pick-By-Voice, and Speech-Based Picking. These all refer to the process of using voice commands to validate and optimize order selection, and can greatly improve supply chain productivity. The process consists quite simply of a headset, a microphone, and voice recognition technology that allows for commands to be given to and provided by a picker during the collection of items for shipment or to satisfy a customer’s order.
Wondering how voice picking can work for your company and how it may benefit your productivity and efficiency? Let’s take a quick look at the benefits of adding voice picking to your operations.
- Voice Picking allows for major gains in accuracy. Companies that choose this process report correcting over 80% of picking errors. Many companies report over 99% picking accuracy!
- Voice Picking allows for productivity gains for several reasons. Since the operator is hands-free and eye-free, the work becomes focused and can be done quickly, with many companies reporting 15% to 35% gain in productivity.
- Voice Picking is capable of software integration with your warehouse management system. In doing so, it can optimize a path to collect items in your warehouse, thus cutting down on movement time.
- Voice Picking software also provides real-time updates to inventory and locations of merchandise. The software is easily expandable as your company grows or adds products.
- Voice Recognition software can be personalized and allows for multilingual users.
- Voice Picking is ergonomically friendly and flexible. Users find that it is lightweight and allows for free hands and eyes to collect items. The training is brief and most users find it fairly intuitive.
Boston Industrial Consulting recently designed and installed a voice picking systems at Powerstop. They report that their efficiency and productivity increased by over 15% and users agree that the system makes their jobs more focused and less arduous. The learning curve for bringing users on board with new technology was also greatly reduced, since all commands are fed to employees. The overall lack of training time and quality of picking by new employees was also a key contributor to the overall success of the installation.