Increase in Operational Efficiency through Voice Technology
One of the biggest time consuming and mundane activities in warehouse management is the pick up of inventory and the appropriate shelving of inventory. Imagine picking up inventory from the warehouse without having any paper lists or even any barcode scanners. Yes, voice technology enables hands and view free inventory pick up, stock put away and inventory management in the warehouses in real time. This enables the warehouse staff to work for long periods without any problems with just wearing lightweight, high-quality headsets. Today, voice technology integrated with a company's ERP systems provides extremely robust headsets that guide warehouse employees through the rows, aisles and bins of the warehouse and make inventory tracking, pick up and put away extremely easy and flexible. Not only this but the devices are so robust that they even contain a noise-cancelling electret microphone and with a sound insulation up to 27 db allows it to be used in very noisy 'pick by voice' environments. Voice technology can also be effectively used in goods receiving and transfers to docks.
The voice system does not require an operator to even carry a bar code scanner and thus increases efficiency and speed in stock management. Voice systems also score over conventional barcode scanning since products occasionally arrive without barcodes and hence tracking and inventory placement becomes difficult. Also, since an operator with a headset enabled uses two hands as against a barcode scanner user using just one hand, voice technology users become more efficient. Also this technology does not require each user to 'train' the voice software before use for individual voice profile recognition. This is beneficial for new or interim operators as they can be up and running in no time which delivers important productivity advantages during peak time periods. Since the technology is also hardware independent, it gives the benefit to use it with any other systems to be used in future. Direct integration reduces the potential for data errors because there is no database sitting between the ERP system and the voice terminals. Improvements in the order picking accuracy are dramatic and in cases an accuracy of 99.9% has been achieved.
Since the data is exchanged in real time whenever an item of stock is moved, synergies can even be leveraged in logistics, order management and shop floor manufacturing systems. This could help shop floor operators to know by voice as to which is the next department and which is the next operation to be done on the subassembly. Voice technology can particularly be leveraged in a highly MTO environment where each customer order is different and hence the Bill of material, routings, departments would drastically vary from each other. Voice technology can help in tremendously improving the operational efficiency of shop floor operators by guiding them accurately to each department. However, the question still remains to the extent to which this technology can be leveraged in logistics, inventory management and manufacturing.