Why a Voice Picking System is the Choice for your Automated Warehouse Fulfillment Operation

Jennifer Maloney
July 23, 2021

One of the most effective ways to streamline warehouse labor requirements – by as much as 50% – is to add a voice-directed picking system to your picking operations.

Order picking can be the most labor-intensive and labor-costly activity in omni-channel e-commerce order fulfillment operations, especially piece-picking operations.

Orders that require specific packaging, colors, accessories, promotional items, documents, or gift wrapping can benefit the most from a warehouse voice picking system because it provides verbal instructions via headset to guide operators on picking, packing, and shipping tasks.

“Hands down, voice picking technology has proven to be the most efficient technology for cost effective and high accuracy picking” said Dan Hanrahan, president of the Numina Group.

Built-in Order Accuracy and Picking Speed

Warehouse voice picking systems offer a fast and effective replacement for manual, paper-driven order fulfillment processes. Rather than managing picking tasks on paper pick tickets, workers instead rely on a headset and mobile device that provides ongoing voice commands to guide them to pick order items and validate their work in a step-by-step manner.

99.9% Order Accuracy

A robust voice picking system such as Numina Group’s RDS™ Victory Voice™ Suite can readily increase order accuracy to 99.9%, specifically by requiring workers to validate their activities before they advance to other orders. 

For example, RDS Victory Voice can be configured to prevent operators from picking the wrong item or quantity, or closing out an order until it is fully picked before picking is completed and they can move on to the next order.

Blog: The Basics of Warehouse Automation

Equally important, voice-directed picking is fast. When compared to the time required for warehouse workers to manually read paper pick tickets, key in data and validate their work, voice picking technology is often 50% faster or more.

Built for flexibility

The best warehouse voice picking systems are also highly flexible. As one example, they can be configured to automatically change picking instructions for the same SKU pick according to each customer’s and retailer or e-commerce company’s specific shipment rules.

Pick by voice outperforms paper, RF terminals, message displays, and many times pick-to-light, especially when accounting for the benefit of its increased accuracy.

RDS Voice-Directed Picking is Speaker-Independent

Quite different than first-generation voice systems, speaker-independent voice algorithms have continued to advance and now automatically recognize voice responses regardless of an individual’s accent.

The latest speaker-independent voice engines have close to 100% recognition rates across multiple languages, even while operating in noisy industrial operations, and require zero employee voice training to operate.

As a result of these advances, the voice picking problems related to voice recognition inaccuracies problematic in old-gen speaker-dependent voice technology are no longer an issue.

Zero Voice Picking Training – a Key Advantage

A key advantage of speaker-independent voice is it requires zero operator voice training for workers to become proficient in picking operations. The time it takes to get an employee up to speed with speaker-independent voice is much faster than manual paper picking, RF, or speaker-dependent voice which can take several hours of training.

Speaker-independent voice permits more flexibility in cross-training of workers and interleaving work tasks, leading to better labor utilization for picking, replenishment, and other work tasks. 

Additionally, the technology captures and time-stamps all orders and labor usage for performance reporting.

Pickers are productive in 15 minutes, so even temporary workers can be quickly and easily deployed during peak periods.

Multi-Modal Voice Directed Technology Supports all Warehousing Activities

The latest generation of voice picking systems have expanded beyond voice-only picking solutions and now offer multi-modal voice technology, which combines a very lean voice command set with integrated wearable mobile computers and barcode scanners for single-touch pick and pack verification.

Order picking performed with scan validation, vision, and speech is a three-step verification process. Multi-verification voice consistently achieves a 99.9% accuracy rate – far higher than voice-only technology.

Blog: Combine Voice Picking and Zone Routing Conveyor Picking to Increase Productivity

For example, a voice directed warehousing solution can be configured to direct the worker to the location in the most efficient pick path, and direct the operator to perform SKU barcode scanning using a back-of-hand or ring-mounted barcode scanner.

Integrated barcode scanning validation, especially the use of the latest 2-D hands free scanners, significantly increases picking efficiency and productivity well and beyond traditional speaker-dependent voice picking technologies.

It directs and validates each step using a combination of voice commands/responses and hands-free two-dimensional (2D) barcode scanning. 2-D scanning is omni-directional scanning to speed-up by 5% the location, SKU, lot and serial ID barcode capture, and validation steps.

Hands and Eyes Free for Employee Safety

Keeping the warehouse operator’s hands free and their eyes forward makes an operation safer while allowing operators to hear, see, and verify SKU, quantity, lot, and serial number capture in a fast, accurate, single touch operation.

Labor Tracking

Labor tracking provides supervisors the ability to analyze individual worker productivity.

The process requires no special training. It is remarkably easy to use, learn, and highly accurate, allowing single-touch pick-and-pack validation at near 100% accuracy rates that eliminate the need for secondary order inspection.

Speaker-independent voice integrates work instructions and verification into each step, for all pick types including pallet, mixed-case, or split-case piece picking. The ability to interleave picking, cycle counting, and replenishment across different order types is readily supported. 

Voice picking enables workforce management to direct and move employees between work zones and work activities.

Labor tracking provides supervisors the ability to analyze individual worker productivity.

Numina Group and Zebra for Best-in-Class Software and Hardware

RDS Voice Picking and Pick-to-Light solutions work seamlessly together on the Zebra Android mobile computers. Operators are equipped with Zebra’s latest wearable ring scanners and headsets to enable real-time voice and display messages to direct operator work activities. By integrating voice technology with hands-free scanning, the picking process becomes 30% faster and more accurate.

Learn More About Zebra Mobility Solutions Offered by Numina Group

High-Speed Performance, Extended Battery Life

Numina Group’s RDS Mobility voice picking software uses a small client message architecture that resides on the small light weight voice-enabled PDA that can operate for 14 hours or more between battery charges.

Complimentary Demonstration

Contact the Numina Group today for a no-cost demonstration of our RDS Victory Voice Suite. See how easy voice-directed order picking can be.

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