“Hey Siri” and “OK Google” are what first come to mind when we think of voice-enabled systems and speech recognition. Over the last few years, huge amounts of data have been generated to train and fine-tune voice systems. This has enabled voice recognition and synthesis to become better, cheaper, and more intuitive. Distribution centres are no strangers to adopting this technology. The industry has been enjoying the efficiencies brought by voice-picking for years, and recent advances have only helped make the technologies stronger.
How it Works
Industrial voice applications help make warehouses more efficient and productive, especially when it comes to the picking process. In voice-enabled warehouses, users wear an ergonomic headset connected to a device that sends voice commands to an operator regarding what to pick and where to pick it. The user in turn verbally confirms what has been picked or reports any issues.
Voice recognition allows users to perform tasks and get help without the use of their eyes or hands. These ‘eyes-free, hands-free’ systems can improve productivity, accuracy and safety and reduce the time needed to train workers, as speech is inherently a natural form of communication. Used in combination with other technologies such as barcode scanning or RFID, they can drive considerable efficiency in end-to-end warehousing processes.
Equipping warehouses with voice technologies still has a significant cost implication and usually is justifiable only in larger operations, where economies of scale and greater IT budgets exist. Additionally, there are improvements to be made related to network coverage and data processing. However, as voice systems become more affordable, more capable, and shift from proprietary to open-source, they will become a common technology in even more warehouses.