Voice systems are solutions, in which the exchange of data between the system and the operator is conveyed via voice commands, without the need of entering data with keyboard or scanner and reading commands from the screen.
Benefits of voice systems:
- error reduction from 4-6 for 1000 positions to pick (for traditional scanning systems) to <1,
- increasing productiveness by 10-15% by accelerating operation time,
- shortening worker’s training – simplicity of the process,
- better work ergonomics and safety – hands are free from terminal/scanner.
Voice systems are a technology that is complementary to popular solutions used in warehouse, such as barcodes or RFID. They can simplify and accelerate warehouse operations, where time ratio of data processing (data reading and entering) to productive time (physical implementation of the task) is high.
Such situation happens with e.g. picking. That is why voice systems are mostly used in this process (42% of systems), and they are referred to as pick-by-voice systems.
The advantages of voice technology in comparison to traditional methods can be also seen in other processes , such as restocking, transfer or even entry. There are warehouses where voice systems are the only solution, but there are some where voice systems are used only in chosen areas, while other operations are conducted traditionally. It is worth remembering to conduct a meticulous and thorough ROI analysis and take it into account when deciding which technology and in which processes will bring most benefits. Thanks to its advantages (error reduction and productivity increase), voice systems allow to gain significant savings of time and assets in chosen logistic processes. High efficiency of the system guarantees fast return of investment.
The main information carrier in voice systems are voice messages sent between the operator and WMS.
An exemplary picking process of given goods in warehouse looks as follows:
- the operator receives a message with information about the zone and location number,
- the operator confirms arriving in the right zone by reading a location control number,
- the system sends a message of quantity/weight that has to be picked,
- the operator loads goods and confirms loaded quantity and weight.
Main elements of voice systems are:
- interface between voice system and WMS,
- portable voice terminal (mobile computer),
- managing application (console).
The main role of the interface is data exchange between voice system and WMS of ordered tasks, their status, etc.
Portable terminal is used to convert text messages send by voice system to sound and to convert operator’s voice messages to text. Devices dedicated for voice systems, such as Vocollect Talkman T5 or standard portable scanners (mobile computers) with dedicated software and equipment, like Motorola WT4090 or Psion WORKABOUT Pro can be used as terminals.
A vital element of voice system is a set of special headphones, adjusted to operator’s needs. They are highly resistant when it comes to mechanics and environmental conditions and have high quality microphones. They are able to filter noise in such a way so that distortions arising during conversion of sound to text, caused by outer disruptions, are excluded.
The role of the console is to supervise the session and store so-called profile users, on the basis of which the system learns to recognize their voice.