Server-based voice picking companies have been promoting custom, proprietary systems as superior to existing workflows and businesses processes. Embedded in these claims is a bit of arrogance about what is best for businesses claiming they are the experts of voice picking. While there have been successes utilizing well-known server-based voice-embedded, with big names like Vocollect, many companies have been burned, leaving a sour taste for voice-picking. The promises of integrated software modules integrating to Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) has given way to costly upgrade charges every so many years.
Legacy server-based picking applications have been around since the late 1990’s. These giants, when taking a closer look, have one application that is voice enabled for EVERY customer. Sadly, when the big players in the space only have a hammer, every problem needs to be a nail.
Recently, legacy voice companies have tried to expand and build custom, proprietary implementations - for voice picking, one at a time. Using this architecture and approach takes a long time and gets very expensive. As time has passed, these legacy solutions have become timeworn for most agile, forward-thinking organizations. Companies today require technology that can be integrated with their existing, optimized processes, not replaced with an antiquated, one-size-fits-all server.
These old solutions built a generic picking application that would look good to companies new to the voice-directed workforce. They then would spend months, and sometimes, years, customizing the code to make it usable for each individual customer to some extent. This core application would have a voice engine, usually a proprietary one that would be coded into the application, making it impossible to change. This legacy architecture required hours of voice training and a large file for each user. This was particularly time-consuming and costly during high turn seasonality when temporary workers and users would go through the same process as full-time workers.
The landscape has changed. New modern voice architecture allows for seamless automation of existing business processes and system customization. Existing assets can now be leveraged very cost-effectively without million-dollar installations and expensive service maintenance contracts.
Unlike legacy systems, the new voice automation architecture is based on the mobile device, rather than the server. This is a revolution in additive technology; meaning it supports multi-modal inputs. A server is not required, nor are WMS integration modules, integration engineering, nor proprietary software. This new voice automation technology can enhance multiple WMS applications.
The clear majority of manufacturing and distribution teams have analyzed every aspect of the applications and processes. The result of this rigor has optimized the operation for the best workflows and technology installations. By adding voice, automating the application's capability simultaneously exploits the powerful functionality of today's hardware; this continuous process improvement paradigm gets a much-needed technological jolt.
Because voice automation is added to existing technology, there is no need for a new application, a new server, WMS integration modules, nor changes to the WMS application code. The learning curve and downtime is same-day implementation, ensuring no interruptions or costly replacement of software or services.
The mobile voice architecture allows for additional applications including packing, shipping, receiving, replenishment, quality control, returns, and transportation. These device-based voice solutions extend to applications outside the four walls of a distribution center or manufacturing plant.
From field services, mobile inspection, mobile data collection, maintenance, and repair applications, these new processes create an enterprise-wide strategy for mobile deployment.
Even those who have been burned with voice solution over the past decade should take another look. Mobile automation architecture is the definitive game changer in this space.