Sunday, September 14, 2014

Voice Based Inventory Management in Today's Companies



In this week’s readings, one of the articles detailed Wal-Mart’s inventory management system – an automated replenishment system that automatically reorders new supply of stocks for each of their stores [1]. I began to wonder about other methods of inventory management, and was reminded of a project my father had told me his company was working on regarding using voice-recognition software in inventory stocking and replenishment.  After some research, I found that software such as this has become quite popular, and voice-directed picking is a common technique used in a variety of industries. The video below demonstrates how it can be used to assist workers in controlling inventory [2]:

There are many software vendors currently in the market that are specifically focused on creating programs for voice based inventory management.  For example, AccuTrak, an inventory auditing and prevention loss company, has a popular product entitled VoTrak. VoTrak touts impressive benefits through transparency to clients, more accuracy in inventory management, and instant report availability for managers [3]. By keeping instructions and information entry constrained to head-set usage, employees are enabled to make full use of their hands and can be as efficient as possible. Additionally, it diminishes chances of manual entry errors by hand.


I began thinking about the possible inefficiencies of using a voice-directed software considering factors such as a large amount of workers using these types of software may not be native English speakers and could possibly have accents or the investment in IT support and infrastructure to support a voice-based system, both of which could lead to delays and confusion during the recording interpretation. This coupled with the virtually training-free RFID technology that is being used as a process-flow or inventory control technique in various industries, it made me wonder about the relevancy of a software such as this one in the years to come. 

When considering the ability of RFID to remove human error and lower chances of defects in the system, is there a scope for still using Voice-Directed Warehousing in the face of RFID technology? Additionally, are there merits to recommending that manufacturers should use a certain system based on their size and ability to support different IT infrastructures?

[1] http://business.time.com/2013/04/09/the-trouble-lurking-on-walmarts-empty-shelves/
[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WJxOB9LHNI
[3] http://www.accutrakinventory.com/ourclients/index.php
[4] http://rgisblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/voice-activated-inventory-unique-or.html

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