Scanning & Voice Picking - A True Multimodal Love Story

Bob Bova   |    
November 8, 2018

True Multimodal for Picking

Your organization has been using bar code scanning for decades. And why not? It is 100% accurate, very robust hardware, integrates beautifully with your WMS applications and can cut time and reduce errors like nobody’s business.

You’ve been looking for ways to increase productivity without adding staff.. and the data shows that adding voice can deliver double-digit productivity improvements.

So, you’d like to add voice to optimize picking. This is a proven technology to improve accuracy and productivity. Adding wired or wireless headsets with industrial, noise cancelling microphones which connect to mobile devices already deployed in the warehouse or distribution center. The voice enabling application, tells the picker where to go and what to pick, including the location and quantity of items. Once complete the picker may confirm with a voice command to signal readiness for the next pick. Productivity increases, errors decrease.

But as you begin to explore voice picking options you begin to hear three things from the legacy voice picking vendors.

  1. You need to use our proprietary, server-based voice only hardware because that is the only solution that we can offer you for voice pick. We also place a big server inside EVERY ONE of your warehouses to drive the application. BTW, if you want additional applications voice enabled, you need those to be server based and proprietary as well.
  2. You need to let us build you a custom, server-based application. We can use bar code scanners, but we will maintain it, take 18 to 24 months to roll it out and charge large change management and maintenance fees. And any other applications with voice, same drill over again.
  3. You need to use our proprietary platform to write thick code to integrate the most rudimentary voice commands into your applications. We can use bar code scanners but have some limitations on the ones we support.

Some voice picking solutions do not even work with scanners at all - these legacy voice vendors will try to tell you that creative replacement ideas (like check digit) are just as good, or even better than scanning for location, part numbers, bin numbers and other identifications metrics. With the current trend of the number SKU’s skyrocketing, it makes it even more critical that an agile, internal process for many WMS applications be fully integrated with bar code scanning.

The great news is that there is voice technology available today, being used by thousands of bar code scanners for picking, receiving, cycle count, receiving, replenishment, put away, sortation, loading, packing, cross-dock, you name it. Plus, it is used with existing, optimized applications, on hardware that was already in place, by users that were already familiar with these processes.

…AND, it takes less than 90 days to deploy. Android, sure…still on Windows, no problem…you need to migrate, we have you there too.

…AND, there is no server. All this capability and technology resides on the barcode scanner, no single point of failure, no integration module for the WMS, no big huge engineering services integration bills. You control what is voice enabled, when the changes are integrated, when the installation and updates occur, you decide.

Utilizing the intelligent bar code scanning devices for voice automation is a future proofing scenario for existing and new intelligent devices and work flow processes (picking, cycle count, receiving, replenishment and many more). Using the best tools to optimize a process by integrating device-based voice solutions and scanning is available today and a truly acceptable ROI can be realized in a relatively short timeframe (6-10 months), especially if currently deployed devices are used to integrate the voice solutions.

Multimodal Voice Support is Here

Data Capture & Automation

The features, functionality and capability of today’s scanners is robust and impressive. Being able to utilize everything these devices can do is a powerful element in the ability to automate data input, optimize multi modal capabilities and define a solid Android/Windows strategy.

Optimize Multiple Manual Processes

Multiple voice enabled applications can be supported on these devices and they can be automated using device-based voice integration. Not only does today’s device-based voice technology input data into the application, it can also direct the device to push function keys, return keys, pre-populate fields, all SIMULTANEOUSLY with a single voice command. This provides a new level of automation that significantly improves productivity, reduces errors and trains new hires faster and more independently. Voice can be used in training mode to cut the ramp up time for new or seasonal hires in half.

Fits into Your Existing Environment

It provides a way to voice enable existing devices (if they support voice); or, if new ones are needed, establishes a secure extension of the useful life of the new investment, or the current installation of devices. By improving the productivity, reducing errors and using existing equipment (when supported) ROI and TOC metrics become supremely attractive.

Sometimes Heaven IS Found on Earth

Scanning and voice automation are the perfect marriage of technologies to drive every benefit possible in the warehouse. The fact that this architecture is server-less, customer controlled and ubiquitous across operating systems and bar code scanners, gives customers the best strategy for deploying the best voice tech, quickly and efficiently.

Photo Courtesy of Zebra Technologies - Total Wearable Solutions for the Warehouse - WT6000, RS4000, HS3100.

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