Voice technology in the warehouse is the way forward to helping reduce costs in the warehouse and improve productivity
Businesses today face many challenges and nowhere is it more prevalent than the supply chain, particularly in the warehouse, where supply meets demand. Management is expected to contain or reduce costs while supporting higher volumes of goods and improving customer service levels. To meet these expectations, new technologies are often evaluated for their ability to add efficiency and to provide a competitive advantage in the marketplace. While many organisations use a combination of technologies, industry leaders have determined that using voice technology in the warehouse, can provide significant synergies across multiple workflows and reduce costs.
Voice technology in the warehouse can offer:
- Fewer costly picking errors, reducing the costs of processing returns and increasing customer satisfaction
- Reduced administration compared to printed pick list processes
- Continual picking with no need to return to work stations to collect the next order
- Hands-free picking to increase productivity, especially in chilled warehouses or other environments where gloves are required
- Simple and easy use which reduces training costs
All of the above will significantly reduce your warehouse costs. When equipped with a mobile voice terminal and headset, worker’s complete tasks quicker and with fewer errors as the warehouse voice picking solution tells them where to go and what to do. Working hands-and-eyes free also reduces drops and spills and increases worker satisfaction through better ergonomics. Site supervisors can track & analyse progress and reallocate resources where needed. It also helps avoid incorrect shipments and costly credit notes. Combined with a WMS, warehouse voice picking solutions can become a fully integrated solution that not only provides clear task instructions, but communicates and interacts with multiple enterprise software systems throughout your business.
Let’s explore the benefits of voice technology in the warehouse further.
1. Hands Free
In many fulfilment centres, voice-enabled picking tools can help improve worker productivity. With their hands and eyes free to engage completely in the picking tasks, your workers can grasp more items with greater ease. A voice-directed system can relieve pickers of the burden of checking picked items against the order. They need only to confirm each item vocally (typically, saying the last three digits of the barcode), and the system takes care of the rest.
Because pickers don’t have to return to the assignment desk after each order, they can interleave workflows, do reverse picking, or batch-pick orders. All of this reduces travel time and boosts productivity without increasing worker stress. Voice enablement also creates productivity benefits in put-away, stock checking, and other warehouse processes. And, you can avoid tasks such as printing picking lists and keying in picking confirmations to improve your administrative productivity, too.
2. Speed up new employee training
Voice enablement can improve overall fulfilment accuracy by helping to minimise the time new employees spend in error-prone training periods. It takes only a few minutes for a voice-picking device to learn its user’s voice, with minimal additional training in the warehouse to account for on-the-job speech variations and ambient noises. After that, users simply follow directions.
Voice-enabled systems can also answer user questions in mid-task. At the same time, Millennials tend to prefer employers who offer the latest technology. In fact, in a recent survey, it was found that these younger workers are twice as likely to leave their jobs as a result of software usability challenges. In short, not only does voice technology in the warehouse make it easier to train new workers, but it may just be table stakes for the Millennial workforce. Plus, even older workers will appreciate the way that voice technology makes it easier to gain proficiency in their warehouse jobs.
3. Reduce manual entry to enhance accuracy
A voice-directed system can increase order accuracy to as high as 99%. By eliminating distractions, such as looking at papers, scanners, or terminal screens, verbal item confirmation can be faster than manual entry—helping to improve the productivity of your existing workforce as well. Since voice-enabled systems allow managers to pinpoint the date, time, location, and quantity of each item picked, even the few errors that do occur are easier to trace. This is especially important, since increasingly strict service-level agreements (SLAs)demand rapid resolution of all customer inquiries and the ability to promptly rectify faulty processes.
4. Improve employee performance and safety
Warehouse activity still requires significant human involvement, and your bottom line depends on employing the most capable individuals and keeping them proficient and highly motivated. At the manager level, voice-enabled WMS is an ideal tool for monitoring employee performance. You can use it for individual training and review purposes, or you can analyse aggregate performance to identify areas for improvement in work routines and hiring—to ensure that you’re hiring and retaining the right people you need. At the same time, voice enablement will score you points for safety improvement, since it minimises distractions and allows workers to have both handsfree while reaching and climbing. You may also find a reduction in employee turnover, as voice direction can alleviate the stress of decision-making under time pressure and the constant worry about mistakes.
5. Control inventory with real-time updates
Your customers expect more than just accurate and timely order fulfilment—a key performance indicator for many SLAs. They also want more visibility into their inventory in your warehouse. Real-time inventory updates, made possible by a voice-enabled WMS, provide the most accurate input into your customers’ ERP systems, so you have real-time visibility into your inventory. Aside from the investment in the belt-worn devices, voice enablement does not require a major investment in software integration and needs little-to-no additional administration. Voice enablement is already a feature of leading warehousing and supply chain management systems—it’s now simply a matter of putting it to use for your inventory needs.
Voice technology in the warehouse provides a strategic platform which enables companies to grow while controlling operating costs and improving customer service levels. Voice-directed workflows enable hands- free, eyes-free work and provide the most natural and effective method for workers to complete their jobs. Voice-enabled warehouses that implement an end-to-end solution realise the highest gains with the lowest overall cost of ownership due to process improvements and synergies gained from training and equipment use that can only be obtained by using the same technology across workflows.
Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.
Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The Clarus WMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.
Clarus WMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution, online fulfillment and manufacturing warehousing.