Voice Picking Technology Grows Up

Posted August 10, 2010 by Steve Gerrard

It wasn’t long ago that voice picking technology providers focused solely on the most immediate and tangible benefits of voice: increased worker productivity, better accuracy, and improved warehouse safety. In recent years, the conversation about voice picking has evolved beyond these benefits – which are a given at this point – to broader considerations about flexibility, control, and ease of integration.

This industry shift is perhaps best illustrated in a recent Modern Materials Handling article, Voice technology: State of the industry, which highlights the perspective of industry experts, including Voxware President and CEO Scott Yetter. Despite their differences, a number of central themes emerge:

  • Voice is undergoing a shift away from proprietary, closed solutions to those built on open, standards-based technologies
  • Increasingly, the role of voice in the warehouse has expanded beyond picking to include tasks such as loading, putaway, and replenishment
  • Converging technologies are creating new opportunities to combine voice with other picking technologies and deploy voice beyond the warehouse

voice picking user driving a pallet jackSo what’s noteworthy about this? It’s not to say that productivity, accuracy, and safety aren’t worthy reasons for deploying voice in the warehouse. Most operations managers are drawn to voice by the prospect of achieving a 10 to 20 percent boost in productivity, 99.9% accuracy, and steep reduction in accidents on the job – and these factors form the basis used to figure the initial ROI on voice picking.

The point is that there’s now more to consider when it comes to evaluating voice picking providers. Longer term flexibility, avoiding vendor lock-in, and total cost of ownership have emerged as key issues – and this is a sign that voice picking is growing up. Industry leaders may offer similar opinions about voice, but look beyond their sound bites and sales pitches and you’ll find that each varies tremendously in their capacity (and willingness) to pursue this vision. Accordingly, here are some key questions to ask a provider about their voice picking solution:

  • Is it Adaptable?
  • Is it Configurable?
  • Is it Portable?
  • Is it Scalable?
  • Is it Reliable?
  • Is it Affordable?

Document enabling voice picking systems to be rated and comparedDownload a copy of our Voice Empowerment Quiz to learn more about the questions to ask when evaluating voice. Taking these points into consideration will help ensure that the solution you select offers the flexibility and control to harness the full power of voice, regardless of changing business processes or technology.

Steve Gerrard is Vice President of Marketing & Strategic Planning at Voxware





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