An Introduction to Voice Directed Picking (VDP) – Pick-By-Voice

An Introduction to Voice Directed Picking (VDP) – Pick-By-Voice

What is Voice Picking?

Voice picking technology is equipment that allows for hands-free and eyes-free capability in the warehouse. It is currently becoming a new standard in distribution centers, used primarily for outbound operations but can be applied to any process in a warehouse. This is because for outbound operations, voice-directed picking (VDP) increases overall productivity, accuracy, and safety in the facility.

VDP adapts Bluetooth technology and integrates with the warehouse’s WMS or ERP system. Rather than an employee reading information off a picklist or scanner, the system communicates to the employee via a wireless headset and directs them where to go in the warehouse and what to pick. VDP also provides real-time confirmation, removing the need of physical scanning and the logging of information, thus improving efficiency.

What are the Benefits?

Reduce Mis-Picks and Increase Safety

As mentioned, VDP creates a hands-free environment. It removes the need to press buttons, manually log/interpret information, etc. Instead, the employee on the headset follows instruction from voice commands and audio feedback which is directly logged into the WMS system. This can reduce the number of mis-picks that would normally be caused by human error due the ease-of-use VDP provides.

Safety in the warehouse is the most important element in any facility. There are many factors to consider such as material handling equipment and other employees on the floor which can cause unwanted accidents. VDP’s capability allows employees to be more aware of their surroundings when traveling around the warehouse. They are no longer distracted from reading their pick list or scanner throughout the warehouse and only have to focus on traveling safely to their pick location.

Increased Productivity

According to Körber Supply Chain, integrating VDP in the warehouse will usually create a 20-25% increase in productivity. The integration immediately eliminates the need for extra paper and hand-held devices which decreases the time to stop, read and scan items and picklists. Instead, listening and speaking allows for the user to multitask during the picking procedure. Then, as data is collected over time, even more productivity can be found by finding the most optimal pick-route. This information can be extracted to decrease travel time within the warehouse. These increases in productivity reduces the labor needed for picking which allows reallocation of resources where needed.

VDP is also seen being integrated with picking robots to further increase productivity. In addition to an employee utilizing VDP, picking robots will utilize the average pick and travel time to ensure that the picker and robot are just-in-time with one another. These robots provide an additive feature in the automation process.

Data and Continuous Improvement

This method not only provides real-time information but simultaneously collects data to provide helpful statistics such as how long the task will take to complete and average number of items on the pick list. These statistics are important for continuous improvement in the warehouse. Access to this information ensures that the pickers are arrived on time, at the correct location, and on a larger scale, maintain KPIs.

The Future of VDP

As warehouses continue to introduce new technology, the use of VDP will continue to grow as it increases accuracy without the sacrifice in time. Integration with picking robots will most likely grow in parallel due to their complimentary functionality, further increasing standards. The freedom that VDP allows a company to address other bottlenecks in the warehouse such as quality assurance or inventory storage by reallocated picking labor to where needed. Not only will productivity increase in the warehouse, but VDP also provides an avenue for companies to become more data-driven, which is critical for continuous growth and improvement.

By Carmen Su  Establish Inc NY

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