A new and interesting application of Unified Communications (UC) is using voice technology to improve warehouse operations management. Read on to learn how UC—specifically integrating voice into the item picking and packing process—can improve efficiency, effectiveness, and safety in your warehouse.
Business processes and activities in the warehouse have traditionally been very receptive to automation, with the goal of improving efficiency and effectiveness. Automation has been focused on areas including managing stock levels, tracking stock movements, and more. The processes done on the warehouse floor itself, such as item picking and packing, are now largely run by computer-based systems. One attempt at automation included outfitting staff with handheld systems, but they proved to be impractical or prohibitive since they required the use of both hands, were complicated to use, and made the overall process too complicated. Employees have generally preferred to stick with the simple pen and paper instead. But recent advancements in human-to-computer interfaces—such as the use of voice commands instead of keyboard and mouse, pen-based, or touch based systems—promises to change this.
Using voice technology, warehouse staff and managers can now send and receive instructions via voice, using a headset connected to a back-end system that understands and processes voice instructions and can respond in a natural sounding human voice. This can result in:
- Faster and more accurate order fulfillment: Warehouse staff can be given more specific and accurate instructions allowing them to navigate the warehouse, identify specific bins or pallets containing items for packing, and be able to pick out the correct quantities for the right order.
- Cost savings: Faster and more accurate fulfillment can result in reduced costs over time as it reduces the need to redo work, avoids costly customer returns and dissatisfaction, and lessens other costs such as training time for employees.
- Improved safety: With pallets and bins stacked in long, tall rows, forklifts and other heavy machinery zipping from one place to another, and people moving around, usually in a hurry, with both hands full and sometimes distracted, accidents are commonplace in warehouses. With voice technology, this can be avoided by getting people to focus with voice commands, and freeing up their hands and body to work on other things.