Q&A: Voice Technology – Worth The Investment?
Whether or not voice technology in warehousing environments is worth the investment is a key topic of discussion for many businesses operating their own DCs. We interviewed Paul Bates, Account Director at Peak-Ryzex, to ask why businesses consider voice technology and if these solutions are worth the cost:
Q: Why would a business consider implementing a voice solution in their warehouse environments, especially if they already have a viable picking/scanning solution in place?
A: I think it ultimately comes down to productivity & efficiency gains. Voice technology is able to deliver clear & measurable improvements in these areas; the scale of which will vary dependent on the efficiency of a business’s existing processes. If they are inefficient the gains can be vast, if they are already highly efficient then they will be smaller, but even efficiency gains of a few percentage points can make a huge difference in DC’s holding products that are fast moving and regularly cycled. There is also a safety aspect – not having to look at a screen makes staff more aware of their surroundings in the warehouse.
Q: What sort of productivity gains could potentially be gained from implementing voice technology?
A: Just taking picking for example, voice enables higher pick rates per hour (shift or day). It enables you to either do more picking with the same amount of people OR if your operation does not need to or cannot pick more volume, then it allows you to do the same amount of picking with less people. Essentially a successful voice solution will enable you to achieve significant improvements in workforce efficiency.
Q: That sounds great, but isn’t voice technology expensive and time-consuming to implement?
A: Traditional voice solutions have been seen as too expensive to a lot of businesses in the past, mainly due to the fact that they might require additional voice middleware or significant changes to WMS (Warehouse Management System) Servers, both of which can be prohibitive to implementing voice. However, there are alternatives that allow businesses to implement a voice solution in a much shorter timeframe & at a much more palatable cost.
Q: Which alternative would you recommend?
A: Wavelink’s Speakeasy voice application addresses a lot of these traditional concerns. It can be rolled out in less than a month and because the voice processing takes place on the devices themselves, there is no need for any of these expensive middleware solutions or the requirement to change and of the businesses back end systems.
Take the example of one of our large retail warehousing clients, who recently implemented Speakeasy into their business. After only 4 weeks they were seeing efficiency gains of 7%, and they are predicting they will achieve full ROI in less than 12 months – the feedback has been extremely positive.