Tag: voice picking
By now you’ve heard us talk about the mobile ecosystem quite a bit; its importance within your organization and how no two companies will have the same mobile ecosystem. (Not sure what makes up the mobile ecosystem? Check out this useful diagram.) With lots of interconnecting pieces including devices, locations, back and front-end processes and systems, it’s important to assess each area of your business and take a look at the overall health of your organization. Fitting all the pieces together can be overwhelming. After all, what you care about is the bottom-line; where the efficiency is, the increase in productivity and a return on your investment.
If we take one piece of the mobile ecosystem at a time it is easy to make small changes that add up to big returns. Let’s take the warehouse, and more specifically, the back-end of the warehouse and your warehouse management system (WMS). A simple and fast way to see an immediate increase in productivity is to add voice to your WMS in less than 30-days. It’s that simple.
No, really it is that simple. Within the last five-years alone, voice has evolved at a substantial pace. There is no longer one option, no longer additional servers, new hardware or undue burden on the network. Now companies can utilize existing hardware and enable workers (including seasonal workers, with little to no training) to just pick up any device and begin using voice-directed picking immediately. By focusing on just one piece of the ecosystem at a time it becomes manageable and by implementing voice, whether it is in the warehouse or in mobile inspections, field services or yard management, you can achieve dramatic results.
When you utilize voice as part of your overall ecosystem, you add one more tool to keep your enterprise evolving with the growing demands of today’s supply chain.
I was just re-reading Maida Napolitano’s article on Voice Picking from Logistics Management magazine mid-2010 (“Three Voices, Three Solutions”, Maida Napolitano, Logistics Management, July 2010). In it, Ms. Napolitano highlights three different voice picking solutions, from three different providers. All three solutions have different architectures. This provides the foundation for the segmentation of the voice solutions in the article.
Although the article is an excellent overview of three of the possible architectures for voice solutions, there is one small problem. There are actually FOUR different architectures available today, providing (at least), four different voice platforms.
Napolitano’s article covers the following designs:
- Proprietary Solutions – These are speaker-dependent solutions requiring custom voice hardware, and are the oldest voice solutions on the market.
- Open Hardware – These can be speaker-dependent, or -independent, and utilize off-the-shelf mobile device hardware with thick-client applications provided by the voice solution provider.
- Intelligent Networks – These are speaker-dependent, or -independent, and utilize a thin-client “approach”, with “more intelligence placed in the network” (Quotations mine).
Although this description gets very close to enumerating all the differences in voice architectures, it is missing one key design. Also, it tends to separate two solutions that share a fundamental design element, and lumps in the missing element as part of the last one.
Let me explain.
ReadWriteWeb recently highlighted Wavelink’s Infographic on the evolution of voice and speech recognition from the Brazen Head to Apple’s Siri. Take a closer look at the significant developments that paved the way for voice in the enterprise.
Historically many companies have been put off by voice directed applications from a financial perspective, but also take a “wait and see” approach; does it really yield ROI? This past year alone the momentum building for voice directed applications in the warehouse really can’t be denied. In a November/December 2011 study by the Aberdeen Group 90% of survey respondents were currently looking at voice software, and of those 76% were strongly considering using a different hardware manufacturer as opposed to the traditional voice hardware and software offerings. But does a lower cost option mean that they are less likely to get all the bells and whistles? Could it be that they can even expect more?
I would say yes, of course! Am I bias? Of course, but it isn’t without merit. Wavelink Speakeasy is leading the charge against the traditional voice options. Voice options, that let’s be honest, require you purchase all new hardware and then require further investment in changes to your back-end WMS systems, extensive training, servers, modification or replacement of the host application etc. It’s exhausting to have to think about the implementation cycle for something like this and then how long it would take to see a significant ROI. Who has the time?
With Wavelink Speakeasy we just keep it simple. We stand behind our voice in 30-days or less implementation and not only that, but you get to keep all of the hardware you’ve already invested heavily into, you don’t need additional servers, you can work with your existing WMS, no heavy network traffic, and the huge benefit of multi-modal support that Speakeasy provides. Why do you care about multi-modal support? Voice enabled applications have been proven to deliver improved data accuracy in many applications, but there are many situations when the combination of voice and barcode scanning is most accurate. For example, location verification is more accurate when scanned rather than using spoken check digits. The input of long numbers, such as serial numbers, is much more accurately scanned than spoken. Wavelink’s solution allows for multiple input sources such as scanning, voice and RFID, as well as keyboard entry, which allows for the best method to be utilized.
Still not convinced? Reach out – there’s nothing we like better than showing off. Send in your information in the “Ask the Advisor” box off to the left.
We are excited to share our Speakeasy and Goya Foods video case study. Luis and his team are doing amazing things with their applications, and this video has some excellent insight into the ways voice-enabling their Manhattan Associates WMS has really improved operations. Take a peek and let us know what you think!
You can view all of our videos at our YouTube page, here.
The Voice market is changing. The traditional, legacy, providers are seeing the market expand and enterprises are finding that adding voice to their web applications no longer requires being held “hostage.” With long implementation cycles, costly brand-new hardware and extensive training, enterprises are shelling out big money to add Voice. This begs the question; when does ROI actually kick in? Isn’t Voice supposed to streamline operations, therefore saving you money?
It isn’t to say that these traditional providers don’t eventually save organizations money, but with tight budgets and staff often wearing multiple hats it is even more important for enterprises to see an early return, not only on the financial side, but also on the implementation side.
At our “Voice in 30 Days!” webinar, we talked about many of these topics, and how Speakeasy answers these challenges. For enterprises adding Voice just got a whole lot simpler.
Don’t have the resources or time to dedicate to a Speakeasy implementation? At the webinar, we announced the new Speakeasy Professional Services team that is available to get voice applications up and running as fast as possible. Our highly qualified group of field implementation engineers serves as an extension to your organization by ensuring that your specific objectives are met and that Speakeasy is deployed correctly. Additionally, with close relationships with strategic WMS providers and support for enterprise applications such as SAP and Oracle mean customers who were once limited to voice options, now – so to say – have a voice! We’d love to hear your voice success stories in the comments below!
Last week, Multichannel Merchant had a great article that focused on how to improve warehouse productivity. He had nine tips for doing so ranging from creating a picking path to listening to employee feedback.
We’d like to add a tenth – using your voice.
Voice picking isn’t new to the warehouse. In fact, our voice picking product, Speakeasy, has been around for years, but just within the last couple of years companies have really started to implement it and see huge returns.
Take Goya Foods for example. They have been using Speakeasy in their Prince George facility. Within the first few months of using Speakeasy, they noticed improvement in three areas – accuracy, efficiency, and safety. Like Goya, most companies see the following:
Mispicks can lead to significant expenses, costing most companies anywhere from $5 – $50 per error. With that in mind, you can see how the savings quickly add up. (To see for yourself, contact us for a copy of our Speakeasy ROI Calculator)
On average, pick teams will complete their tasks much faster than before. With voice, pick teams move from sequence to sequence in rapid time.
With voice commands, pickers move from point to point more safely. This makes plant managers much more at ease.
Another thing to point out is that management costs of Speakeasy are minimal because the product is advanced enough that pickers don’t need to go through technical training to calibrate it for their own use.
Not to mention it is really easy to use, as our own Greg Berger demonstrates for Warehouse IQ at ProMat last year.
Our good friends at BCI, a Wavelink Platinum Partner, recently shared an article on the possibilities of voice applications not having much of an impact. When asked about our thoughts, we said, “well sure.” But there is a big “but” that followed our response and I wanted to point out some very critical points when discussing voice. The biggest issue is the issue of cost, which all companies are concerned with, and this is 100% true with traditional voice systems.
“[Bill Kuipers, president of operations consultancy Spaide, Kuipers & Co] thought he was in the minority about pick-to-voice technology. “I’m not surprised based on my own observations, but I thought I was in the minority. Lots of clients consider but ultimately reject it (usually due to the cost of hardware, and the required software integration). It tends to be more expensive than comparable RF Scanning devices.
‘Plus, you almost always have to buy some sort of intermediate software system, whereas most applications already support basic bar code reading – or can easily incorporate it.’”
This is the fundamental problem with yesterday’s voice technology. It requires you to buy new devices and servers, deal with lengthy implementation times, a replacement of existing business processes, and an overhaul in training. In that case, who would want to deal with it?
And that’s where the value of a voice application like Speakeasy comes in. It doesn’t require new hardware, can be implemented in as little as 30 days, works with your existing applications, and as such, is easy for workers to learn. If you’re curious about the differences, I highly suggest checking out the recent webinar we held entitled, “Say Goodbye to Legacy Voice.”