Bilingual Workers in the Warehouse Increase Productivity Faster with Bilingual-ish Speech Interfaces

Bob Bova   |    
October 11, 2018

Bilingual Workers in the Warehouse

Many reputable publications have been highlighting the shrinking of warehouse space, workers and seasoned professionals to assist with the rapid global growth in the Inventory and logistics markets. Since this is a global situation, one of the critical challenges that supply chain professionals face is providing support for multilingual workers across multiple geographies where operations may be based.

In North America, we have many people working within the supply chain representing a myriad of countries and ethnicities and speaking English as well as Spanish, Portuguese, many Chinese dialects and dozens of other languages as well. At first glance, this might seem like an additional workforce management challenge, but there are always other vantage points. How can an organization that is aggressively working to streamline and optimize business processes inside the warehouse use this situation to their ADVANTAGE?

Bilingual and Legacy Voice Systems

If we look at the first generation of legacy, server-based voice picking systems, the reality is that they were not designed to blend languages, providing a rough transition for new employees that may be bilingual or ESL (English as a Second Language) individuals. While challenging for new workers, these older systems exacerbate the ramp-up problem for temporary workers during peak times. These workers are common in North America and the challenge to have them use an old voice picking system quickly and efficiently is hamstrung by accents, local dialects and context confusion. Perhaps the legacy voice systems support other languages, but what about blended languages like Spanglish?? Or Chinglish – Chinese and English, Franglish – French and English, Singlish – Singaporean English, or Hinglish – Hindi and English (the language of Bollywood)?

Old-school server-based voice picking systems require many months to implement changes and need sophisticated, lengthy user voice profiles for recognition that is adequate. The inability to customize blended inputs, especially for seasonal workers, is a critical stumbling block for forward thinking operations and IT executives.

New Technology Needed

With the dearth of warehouse workers currently facing the market, fast and flexible, user independent, device-based speech technologies are the optimal strategy for quick additions to the workforce. The evolution of the supply chain workforce has led to an increased requirement for blended language recognition.

Bilingual and Modern Device-Based Voice Solutions

Enter the new device-based solutions and a solution to supporting blended languages. For this technologically advanced type of voice interface, speech technology that has been specifically designed for device-based voice input has the tools and flexibility to install, test, improve and customize blended speech requests. A device-based solution that can be configured to support blended languages and will continue to grow and change with the organization. A device-based solution is agile for temporary worker requirements and can provide flexibility around the world for local dialects and accents.

By using a decentralized strategy, operations and IT managers can develop training modes on the devices. This allows for slowing down or speeding up voice driven commands, help as an utterance anywhere during the process as well as multiple potential speech inputs being recognized for the same data input field. It’s no longer necessary that one size fit all as was the case two decades ago. Being able to design voice interfaces for a multi-lingual, bilingual-ish, multi dialect workforce is now the norm.

Ensure that your voice partner has this requirement front of mind in the architecture development since inception is a critical differentiator for the forward-thinking operations and IT executives looking to add voice to multiple applications, around the world, or just down the street.

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