Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Voice technology in Warehouse management
Voice technology enables workers to communicate with Warehouse management system. This technology uses voice direction, speech recognition and speech synthesis software. Warehouse operators use headset and microphone connected to wireless wearable computer. He will normally read back last 3 digits of the bar code and then system checks the correct item that has to be picked. This computer tells the operators where to go and what to do through verbal prompts. Once the task is accomplished, operators confirm the system verbally through pre-defined commands. The voice terminals or wearable computer then communicates through radio frequency local area network with Warehouse management software. Voice terminal doesn't weigh more than a pound. So operator can easily carry it around. Each operator trains their system to recognize their own voice. Speech recognition technology in the system accurately recognizes responses and is not affected by dialect or accent.
Check this video to understand how this technology works
Warehouse owners have reported order picking accuracy of around 99.9% (one error per thousand. Those who have shifted from paper based system to voice directed picking have report of reduction in picking error by approx. 85%. This technology enables operators to speed up their picking by freeing hands and eye of operation. Order picking productivity too has been reported to improve by 10% to 20%. Voice technology eliminates the need of printing work, distributing picking list or labels, task of entering picking confirmation, picking catch weights and picking amendments.
Grocery retailers and food service Industry are realizing the biggest benefit in their warehouse that are known for having low margin, high volume and labor intensive operations. Hands free operations are particularly suitable for picking frozen and chilled food. Source: www.voicepicking.com
Unfortunately, voice directed warehousing may not be a solution when it comes to handling high value goods that requires confirming the serial number and not merely picking and scanning the number. Also there is a high possibility that this technology may reduce requirement of the labor thus creating a whole debate about technology replacing labor jobs. How do we continue to work on improving the technology to make our operations efficient but without compromising on employment opportunities for the labor?