Voice picking 2021. In this pandemic induced era of demand spikes, overheated manufacturing, a dwindling workforce, same day delivery, ecommerce evolution and data driven hourly analytics, supply chain professionals have their heads on swivels. Never has there been a time when every single aspect of the supply chain has been under such a strain and tasked with a myriad of demands from customers, manufacturers, raw materials providers, and any service remotely tangential to the supply chain, not to mention vaccine distribution. Let’s just keep that one right here for now. That’s a whole blog unto itself.
Organizations that implemented modern mobile voice picking prior to the pandemic realized empowerment and pride in the foresight of that investment when the worst of the demand cycle hit. There were five major reasons voice automation was deployed and performed like a rock star last year.
When the time came to double, triple, or even support higher multiples of production, and warehouse throughput needs, voice picking came through like a champion. The scalability of a device-based, no training needed voice picking technology allowed companies to add as many more workers as possible, get them up to rate in days and meet the requirements of the higher product demand. The agility in its deployment and the ability to upwardly scale additional shifts, warehouses and new workers made the grade for the supply chain professionals that invested in the newer modern mobile voice picking technology. Companies that utilized voice picking versus those that were reliant on robotic picking were able to scale quickly and cost effectively to meet demand.
Today’s voice picking takes a few weeks to implement and deploy. Operations today can see where bottlenecks occur and integrate voice into those workflows without interrupting current business, no major switchover and a seamless ramp-up, enjoying the benefits of productivity increase and error reduction in just days.
Companies that embraced modern mobile voice picking also exploited the benefit of voice automation for any application in the warehouse. These companies optimized workflows with voice that included replenishment, cycle count, shipping, receiving and more. This benefit of using voice automation throughout the warehouse and not just for picking assisted greatly in the high demand for goods. Integrating voice driven processes where they can have the strongest impact drives strategic decision-making regarding training, process acceleration and improvement.
This device-based voice picking flexibility also includes supporting multiple Operating Systems and deploying in a mixed operating system environment. Voice picking deployments can now be deployed on Microsoft, Apple and Android devices using terminal emulation (TE), web browsers or thick client applications. This benefit provides peace of mind for supply chain professionals to choose the best applications, hardware and workflows without being tied to a specific OS, TE or hardware vendor.
Another important flexibility benefit of today’s voice picking technology is its inherent agnosticism regarding WMS/WCS providers. The distributed architecture of a device-based voice picking system has no requirement for customized middleware or server integration. Home grown WMS systems, cloud based, on premise can all deploy and exploit the features and benefits of voice picking that is architecturally device based. During these times of high density picking, replenishment and cycle count, fewer components to manage and fewer points of failure add to the robust efficacy of this approach to technology adoption.
Today’s voice picking is device based – effectively installed on intelligent bar code scanners, tablets, PC’s, smart phones, almost any data gathering device that can support a voice interface. Device based voice picking has the capability to preconfigure keystrokes in combination with collecting data with a single voice command – a huge benefit in capability by automation to the mix. The operational benefits include hands-free data collection, eyes-free productivity and increased user safety – but they also include much more. These devices can also support wearable heads up displays (like the new HD4000 from Zebra Technologies), a new capability today’s voice picking can support for faster training, management overrides, error elimination and operational process acceleration. Voice picking 2021 easily integrates the newest of additional hardware, newer software and optimized processes.
Warehouse employees speak multiple languages, while multinational corporations have facilities around the world. Today’s voice picking solutions provide multilingual capability on the device, allowing for consistency of process and application usage across an enterprise. With the advent of big data driving improvements, the feature of the same workflows being replicated across warehouses, countries and languages drives the value of data as it analyzes where changes be made for better efficiencies during high density stresses in the warehouse. So, in these times of high picking requirements, a solution designed for worldwide use is accessible just by choosing the local language. Today’s modern mobile voice systems are designed for multilingual deployment for new warehouses, established facilities or for the burgeoning micro-fulfillment, smaller warehouses.
Voice Picking has always been a process deserving consideration in a warehouse especially with high density for picks, ecommerce and omnichannel fulfillment that require fast and accurate delivery of products, yet many managers have had a difficult time reaching a timely ROI, if they were able to reach one at all. With modern voice picking, the investment to add voice is significantly lower due to its device-based architecture. This combined with productivity increases realized anywhere from 15 to 50%, combined with error elimination tied to automation, ROI becomes predictable using hard data. During the current pandemic, companies that hired more users, trained them up faster and then got to rate within a couple of weeks knew the impact it would have on their throughput and productivity. Seasoned users provided even faster returns, gaining double digit productivity all by adding voice software to their current handheld devices.
Modern mobile voice picking is evolved, affordable, scalable, flexible and a powerful weapon in the challenges of today’s warehouses providing technology to combat a dwindling workforce, provide increased productivity and more accurate processes. Supply chain executives are now getting a seat at the C Level meetings in many corporations as the pandemic has shown light on the mission critical responsibilities supply chain represents. Now a headline in every newspaper, supply chain is center stage, and device-based voice picking is there too.