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The hidden benefits of voice-driven picking in the distribution center derive in large part from the wealth of data that is generated by the technology, Lachenman says. Managers can use it to increase productivity and accuracy by warehouse workers.
In addition, voice can result in a significant reduction of training time for new workers. Customers have reported they were able to reduce that period from weeks to days or even hours, she says. The benefits can be especially advantageous during seasonal operations, when managers need to bring in extra help to manage peak volumes.
Increased safety is yet another byproduct of voice, which frees up hands and eyes, Lachenman says.
While the technology has been available for many years, the latest iteration contains more sophisticated voice-recognition capabilities. Older versions had trouble dealing with dialects, accents or unusual speech patterns. Modern-day voice systems are also better equipped to operate in noisy environments. Moreover, says Lachenman, the growing popularity of mobile devices is allowing users to gain additional productivity from the system.
Voice is easily integrated into other applications within the distribution center. "The ability to run voice on those platforms has driven down the total cost of ownership," says Lachenman. "There's no need for expensive proprietary hardware."
System flexibility is key in today's distribution operation. Voice might be appropriate for certain applications, while scanning or visual systems are preferred for others, Lachenman says.
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Keywords: supply chain, supply chain management, inventory control, warehouse management systems, voice recognition systems, inventory management, logistics management, supply chain systems, WMS
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