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Reducing Warehouse Fulfillment Errors with Voice Automation

Kevin Mun   |    
October 18, 2021

According to Supply Chain Management Review, researched released earlier this year from the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) working with McKinsey & Company, ”E-commerce volumes grew as much in the first quarter of 2020 as they did in the previous 10 years”. E-commerce fulfillment tops the agenda according to SCMR the RILA study further shows that “80% of retailers plan to concentrate their 2022 supply chain spending on addressing e-commerce fulfillment.”

Accuracy has always been important to order fulfillment and operations managers are always striving for “perfect order percentage” or the percentage of orders delivered on time, matching what was ordered, with the appropriate documentation. Fulfillment errors made as part of the order fulfillment process are both costly and have a direct impact on customer satisfaction. For many businesses, current customers drive a large percentage of ongoing sales. An important part of driving customer loyalty is delivering accurate orders.

eCommerce sales continue to increase as a percentage of overall sales and margins remain compressed, leading operations professionals to focus more than ever before on strategies to minimize error rates for the entire order management process. Voice automating processes is a proven approach to optimizing distribution processes. Picking, receiving, put-away, packing, locating stock, cycle-count, shipping and other processes inside and outside the four walls can benefit from voice automation. Any process that includes data entry can be improved, and voice automation can easily be used in conjunction with technology such as scanning.

How does voice automation help with error reduction?

By taking a process such as picking and adding voice automation which guides the worker through the process, the picker is no longer looking at a device screen or manually entering data on the device. Voice commands guide the worker through the process and data is entered with voice commands ensuring accuracy. AccuSpeechMobile’s automation guides the worker with integrated device functionality such as scanning and collapses elements of the process that can be automated.

Since AccuSpeechMobile automates the process, in the case of picking, we can track detailed information for each individual picker, including location, how many items were picked, how long it took to pick at each location, information about errors, the type of errors, and what part of the process errors occurred. This allows operations managers access to a new level of detailed information which gives them insight into the source of the errors, including data such as the following:

  • Why were errors made?
  • Wrong location?
  • Wrong item?
  • Wrong ULID/License Plate?
  • Scan error?
  • Over Picks
  • Under Picks?

Management has visibility to a more granular picture of what’s going on out on the floor. Does the picker finish the pick and drop off at the staging location and then immediately begin the next pick? Are the delays between picks appropriate?

Management Visibility

AccuSpeechMobile presents detailed information about the process on a management Dashboard. This allows managers to see a variety of data, including how many mistakes are made, by which picker, and what type of mistakes were made. This allows them to understand which pickers might be having trouble and provide detailed information about why they are not hitting their rate.

The dashboard and gives the management team live data and helps them understand what’s going on the floor right now. Is there a need for more training? Is there incorrect information in the system? Are multiple people having similar errors? The immediacy and detailed nature of the data provided about the process allow managers to have awareness of potential problems quickly and supports the ability to rapidly address issues that impact accuracy and efficiency.

Incentives

Some firms use a bonus system for processes such as picking, incentivizing the workforce by providing higher levels of compensation at higher pick rates. Dashboards can also be used to give the team on the floor immediate feedback about their rates, and allow them to manage time to hit additional target levels to meet bonus rates.

Isn’t this information available from the LMS?

Labor Management Systems typically provide high-level information such as pick rate. However, since they do not have visibility at the process level, detailed information is not available without process automation from a solution such as AccuSpeechMobile, which automates the process and can therefore provide detailed, real-time data.

Striving for the Perfect Order

Errors in order fulfillment are costly. When errors are made, operations must devote additional time, resources, and expenses to correct the order. Operations pros know that even high accuracy rates reaching 98% have room for improvement and that incremental increases in accuracy translate to multiple benefits, including higher customer satisfaction, retention, and profitability.

If you’d like to learn more about how AccuSpeechMobile can improve accuracy for picking and more in your distribution center, give us a call, or visit https://www.accuspeechmobile.com/.

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