Tag: voice picking
Posted by Robert DeStefano
Remember that song that you can’t stand to hear, but you know the words by heart? Even though you sing it through gritted teeth, you know the song, and it becomes an “earworm” stuck in your head and it just won’t go away. Frustrating isn’t it? For companies considering adding voice to their mission-critical mobile applications, the stories from traditional voice vendors are just like that old song: implementation takes several months, and if an ROI can be justified at all, it can only be proven for a single task. Mythology is best kept for classic literature and not for voice technology.
For customers who have voice applications from traditional voice vendors, implementation can seem like an Odyssey – complete with months of continuous project costs resulting in a start to finish ranging from 6 months to 2 years in some cases. Traditional voice providers have established the myth that voice is very specialized technology – difficult to implement and costly to modify. Their myths also suggest that once you’ve selected a voice provider, it is even more expensive to switch or use another system for a different task.
Voice-enablement can be a very beneficial part of a mission-critical mobility solution, providing task workers with a heads-up and hands-free option for data capture when using a keyboard or holding a barcode scanner is inconvenient or otherwise sub-optimal (many task workers benefit from a solution that uses all these methods where each makes sense). However, voice-enabled mobile applications are being deployed in 30 days or less – thanks to Wavelink Speakeasy.
For real customers around the world, Speakeasy is breaking down the myths, and proving to be the fastest and most cost-effective way to voice-enable mobile applications. These customers are witnessing how Wavelink is re-defining voice. There’s no compromise in the capabilities of Speakeasy – it’s 21st Century voice technology, leveraging the capabilities of enterprise mobile devices while reducing the complexity of implementation. Speakeasy is proof that voice-enabled mobile applications that are fully features, easily deployed, and financially viable with quantifiable ROI are not myths.
If your company in considering voice-enabling mobile applications to increase the productivity of task workers, even if you’ve already deployed traditional voice for specific applications, contact Wavelink – you’ll get facts, not myths.
Here at Wavelink, we’ve always had a special place in our hearts for speech recognition. It’s hardly surprising. We know first-hand the many benefits of voice recognition in the warehouse – improved productivity, efficiency and warehouse safety. Since the introduction of Speakeasy six years ago, we’ve watched the rise of applications like Siri and Google Voice, which bring voice recognition to the masses. We thought it would be interesting to take a look back in time at some of the history of voice recognition and how it’s evolved over time.
Before Siri, there was Audrey. Audrey was a speech recognition system developed by Bell Laboratories in the early 1950s. It was a pretty basic system and could only recognize the numbers one through nine. It also forced the speaker to pause between words, making it a bit cumbersome to actually use.
In the early 1960s, IBM made some improvements with their “Shoebox” device, which could understand 16 entire words: 10 digits and 6 arithmetical commands. Both Audrey and Shoebox, needless to say, were not very portable, making them highly impractical by today’s standards. Considering the low levels of computing power at the time, these were pretty significant gains. (more…)
It’s obvious that companies only implement technology when it will benefit the business in some way. Most often, it is the hope that technology yields some financial benefit – perhaps in the form of increased productivity and efficiency. However, every technology vendor also recognizes this and therefore makes their sales pitch around the promise of some great savings. But talk is cheap – so how best to separate the promises made in words, and those that are based on factual evidence?
Selling technology has been tied to an ROI for decades, and today, nearly every company has an ROI calculator with which they can show how your investment in their product will put your business in the green. What’s more credible? Consider reference companies that already use the solution and explain the return on investment in their own terms. Just as the reasons a business will choose to invest in technology may vary, so do the primary components of their own ROI calculations. (more…)
Since the introduction of Siri on the iPhone4 in 2011, voice recognition technology has become more mainstream than ever. However, that doesn’t mean that people have become any more accustomed to speaking to their technology. The process can be somewhat unsettling and even technologists themselves think so. According to Reuters, Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently stated that talking to Google Glass was “the weirdest thing.” In fact, Saturday Night Live recently poked fun at Google Glass and how awkward it can be to talk to a device on your face.
Voice recognition can be a bit strange at first but warehouse workers have been doing it for years. Voice in the warehouse can dramatically improve safety by allowing workers to work in a hands and eyes-free environment. It also delivers 99 percent accuracy and at least a 10 percent improvement in productivity to warehouse applications such as data-entry, picking and processing. Though voice applications in today’s warehouse resemble an operator headset, it would make sense for future devices to resemble (or actually be) Google Glass.
Though at a $1,500 price point, Google’s first-to-market product isn’t exactly price friendly to many businesses. That said one of the first voice recognition products for the consumer market, Dragon Dictate, originally retailed for $9,000!
While prices for wearable’s like Google Glass are sure to drop as the technology becomes more mainstream, will talking to a device ever feel completely normal? In the late 20th century, being tethered to a phone all day every day never seemed plausible either, but with the rise of smartphones, that is our new reality. Only time will tell as to whether or not voice recognition devices will become the new norm. In the meantime, just ask any warehouse employee – they’ll tell you it’s all in a day’s work.
The Cofares Group supply products ranging from medicine to health and beauty products to 13,000 pharmacies in Spain from nearly 30 distribution centers. Often they deliver orders that range from one to 20 items to each pharmacy three or four times a day. They need to be able to make these deliveries quickly and accurately.
“Our customers evaluate us based on our ability to deliver complete and accurate orders,” said Abelardo Vaquerizo, duty manager of Cofares Group. “It is a hectic environment where we need to fill orders quickly, but it doesn’t matter how fast we are if we get an order wrong.”
Distribution centers process a large number of orders on a daily basis and Cofares is no different. Most of the medicines are filled by automated machines, but health and beauty items are picked by hand from the warehouse and loaded into delivery trucks. It is a logistical challenge to ensure that the right items get in the right order on the right trucks every time in the most accurate and efficient way possible.
With the number of orders being processed every day, it is a logistical challenge to ensure the right items get in the right order on the right trucks every time. Cofares, through its technology partner, Felguera TI, an affiliate company of Duro Felguera, selected the Speakeasy voice solution from Wavelink to add text-to-speech and speech-to-text functionality to their warehouse applications. The ability for Speakeasy to combine voice with other types of data entry, such as bar code scanning, provides a further crosscheck to ensure that tasks are accurately completed.
“We have initially implemented Speakeasy in two of our larger distribution centers in Madrid,” says Vaquerizo. “Workers are able to speak into their device the item they need to pick and have it speak back to them with a bin location. Once there, they can scan the barcode on the bin, select the items and verbally confirm the item and quantity. This gives us even greater accuracy while also helping them complete the task faster.”
In locations where Speakeasy is being used, Cofares handles approximately 1,200 orders per day. Prior to Speakeasy, there was an average of 20 to 30 errors in those orders, which was still a 97.5 percent accuracy rate. However, with each incorrect order, there was the cost of returning the product and a loss of the sale as well as the negative impression it left with the customer. With Speakeasy, Cofares has virtually eliminated errors with an average of zero to two errors per 1,200 orders.
Cofares were also able to benefit from an intuitive user interface, which allows any employee to pick up a device and use it immediately without needing to create a voice profile. Vaquerizo adds, “Our employees have been very happy with the ease with which they can use Speakeasy. We have experienced very short training times, where we have been able to quickly get a new worker using the system. This was a big cost benefit in terms of our ability to be immediately productive.”
Since Speakeasy is a client-side solution that does not require the addition of voice servers or modification to the host applications, the implementation of the voice solution went smoothly and was completed in just a matter of days. Adding voice to streamline your operations should be simple, straightforward and effective, in today’s non-stop supply chain environment it just has to be.
The human voice is a powerful thing. Sure, the spoken word is our most common means of communication, but these days it’s giving us a bit more. Think about your daily routine, and the tasks you ask of others in straightforward, clear commands (we politely call them “requests”). Now think about how we speak with the technology that surrounds us. That’s right. How do you speak with technology?
We’ve been using key-based commands to operate technology for several decades. However, in the past few years, we’ve finally been able to make commands to some technologies with just the sound of our on voices. For me, the most common experience sounds like this:
Me: “Dial by number.”
Car: “Say the number.”
I couldn’t wait to finally get a car that could connect with my phone so I could get high-quality, hands-free voice. I had been the route of using my phone in speakerphone mode and then tried the Bluetooth speakerphone, but neither delivered what I had hoped. Finally, when I was selecting a new car, I not only was able to use voice commands to place the call, but to configure the system. It took me a few steps to get through the hurdles of an evolving technology, but it eventually became easy to use, inexpensive to implement, and high quality.
While my wife might find this post a bit concerning, I think that more people should fall in love with voice. After all, voice enabled applications are known to make everyones lives much easier. They are know to save you money. They make you more accurate. And they are known to increase safety in the warehouse. What’s not to love!?
Well, did you also know that you can fall in love with voice in 30 days or less? That’s right, in as little as 30 days your SAP, Oracle, Manhattan, Red Prairie or any other WMS, can be talking back to you with voice enabled data and direction. Sign-in to the webinar we hosted yesterday and see for yourself.
On behalf of the Wavelink team, we wish you and your special voice-enabled application a wonderful Valentines Day!
Okay, it may be a stretch to say that this holiday season you want voice technology wrapped in a red bow but it isn’t a stretch to say from your professional point of view, “let’s make my life easier”. We can’t wrap it up in a pretty little bow with a nice shiny car but we can give you five good reasons why voice technology can improve efficiency in your operation.
- Go Multi-Modal: The ability to accept voice in addition to barcode scanning, RFID and keyboard entry expands the flexibility of application design by providing a cross-check to error-proof data. It also gives you the freedom to select the type of data input that will improve workflow that maximizes productivity. For example, the input of longer identifiers, such as serial numbers, is accomplished more efficiently with barcode scanning. When you can quickly use a variety of methods to check on the accuracy of an order it improves customer service and retention levels while eliminating costly mistakes.
- Increase productivity: With a well known 15 – 20% (or more) gain in productivity, hands-free operation allows for simultaneous action that increases productivity, such as the handling of product while receiving and/or providing information to and from the application in voice form. The voice entry is confirmed by the system, eliminating the need to look at the screen to verify data, further reducing cycle times and improving worker efficiency. (more…)