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Innovations that will take your warehouse efficiency to new levels

By Kate Lee | 01/15/2014 | 2:42 AM | Categories: Weblogs

The shag rug, your grandmother’s avocado refrigerator, or how about a pair of legwarmers scrunched at the ankles? Fads come and go—in pop culture and in business. But, cutting costs and increasing revenue are always on trend. In 2014, new innovations and ever-evolving technologies are poised to take your warehouse efficiency to new levels. The competitive advantage of speed, and real-time service offerings are reoccurring themes that you’ll see across the board—from robots to voice tasking. Labor-saving technologies that can increase productivity and revenue include:

Real-time Location Systems

  • eliminate the need to manually record inventory
  • scan 1000 tags per second
  • allow you to follow an item once it has left your facility with real-time tracking

Pick to Light and Put to Light

  • increases picker productivity and accuracy
  • provides accountability for every pick
  • lowers power consumption, lowering energy costs
  • provides real-time shortening of orders and replenishment

Warehouse Robotics Technology

  • offers 99.99% accuracy outranking human workers in efficiency and speed
  • introduces human exclusion zones which improve warehouse safety
  • performs around the clock with only a five minute charging period per hour 

Voice Tasking

  • creates a safer work environment
  • increases productivity and accuracy
  • boosts job satisfaction and lowers employee turnover

Each one of these technologies is changing the functionality of distribution centers and warehouse management globally. Let’s look more closely at Voice Tasking.

Voice Tasking Basics

On a typical day with voice tasking, the warehouse management system (WMS) creates daily assignments for its distribution center employees. Each person’s assignment travels by a radio frequency network from the WMS to a small, mobile computer worn by the employee. The computer translates the task into verbal commands, which the worker listens to through a hands free headset. When the employee has completed the task, he speaks into his headset. At this point, the voice recognition software translates the spoken response into data that travels back to the WMS and the process repeats.

It sounds simple and it is. By replacing paper-based, error-prone systems with this uber-efficient, voice directed work, organizations experience:

  • a safer work environment—because voice tasking is hands-free and eyes-free, employees can focus on their work with their heads up which is a better position for safety awareness; hands-free also helps eliminate stressful multi-tasking common in distribution centers
  • improved accuracy—clear and concise verbal commands (available in the worker’s own language and/or accent) result in fewer mistakes and greater precision
  • increased productivity—since the employee is in constant dialogue with the voice tasking system he is accountable at all times; side conversations drop away; again, the hands-free, eyes-free paradigm allows the worker to focus on their task full attention, and;
  • less training and less turnover—step-by-step instructions allow employees to perform more complex tasks with less training, increasing their sense of pride and job satisfaction.

As C-suite executives grapple with future technology investments they can’t help but notice that voice directed work could become a critical strategy in their organization’s supply chain. To the point, Jim Laverty, Upp Technology President recently spoke on a panel of WMS technology solutions experts, highlighting the biggest trends to watch for in 2014. Laverty said,

“The increasing sophistication of true cloud platforms like irms|360 Enterprise allows 3PLs to easily add advanced technology to their facilities. With the advanced technology of the cloud and the cost savings, more and more 3PLs are able to add Robotics and Voice automation to their warehouse and have an immediate, measurable impact on productivity.”

Voice tasking offers a substantial way to help organizations boost productivity, make their supply chain more efficient, and maximize ROI. It’s clearly a trend to follow. 

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The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Kate Lee

Kate Lee

Kate Lee is the senior director of research and strategy for Fronetics Strategic Advisors, a Newburyport, Mass.-based consultancy that works with clients in industries including logistics and supply chain. She has over 20 years of domestic and international experience as a writer, researcher, and strategist.



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