Improve E-Commerce Warehousing and Order Fulfillment Workflows With Voice
While DCs and warehouses of all sizes face many of the same challenges, small- to medium-sized operations (between 100,000 and 500,000 sq. ft.) tend to feel them most acutely, particularly if they’re in the e-commerce warehousing and order fulfillment sectors. Rising customer expectations for a constantly expanding assortment of stock keeping units (SKUs) — combined with rapidly growing networks and an ever-faster pace of innovation — dictates a greater need for enhanced productivity, planning and inventory control.
For many operations, analog or paper-based systems are still a big part of everyday tasks and workflows. Yet this methodology is highly prone to process errors and severely impairs receiving, inventory counting, picking and packing processes. Taking paper out of the equation and deploying voice technology across multiple workflows within the same operation, however, will positively impact accuracy and productivity while supporting better warehouse performance management — regardless of a facility’s size or processes.
Primary and Secondary Benefits of Voice
Although it’s most commonly associated with deployment in picking processes, voice technology can be implemented nearly facility-wide to support numerous workflows . Among them are receiving, put-away, replenishment, inventory cycle counting, temporary moves, packing, staging/loading, cross-docking, returns, value-added services and time/attendance.
Applying voice-directed workflows to any (or all) of those processes yields a range of primary and secondary benefits — all of which contribute to improving the bottom line and maximizing return on investment (ROI). As Gartner research found, “Enterprises that use speech recognition applications to replace paper-based picking or pick-to-light solutions can achieve ROI in less than one year.”
The primary benefits of voice technology that contribute to fast ROI include:
- Accuracy — Errors are reduced by providing a hands-free, eyes-up technology that keeps workers focused on the task at hand. They are no longer distracted by looking at a screen or a piece of paper to know where to go or what to pick next. Workers are directed via voice through the entire process, allowing them to be more alert and aware while performing a variety of tasks.
- Productivity — Because voice-directed workers are more focused on the tasks they’re performing (and not having to stop or pause to look at a screen or a piece of paper), each associate is more fluid in his/her movements and able to move more efficiently throughout their assignments. Fewer steps to complete tasks throughout the day — and less fumbling or struggling with other forms of information — reduces idle time, leading to increased warehouse throughput.
Secondary benefits of voice-directed workflows that also enhance the bottom line include:
- Labor efficiency — The use of voice and the subsequent increase in overall worker productivity lead to additional savings, including: reduction in overtime; the need for fewer inspectors to check order accuracy; less reliance on temporary or seasonal staff; and the ability to cross-train employees to perform more voice-directed tasks.
- Safety — The hands-free and eyes-up nature of voice creates a more alert and aware workforce, helping to decrease the chance for injury. This also leads to less damage and breakage, which ultimately can lead to fewer incidents or injuries.
- Regulatory — To help comply with evolving government regulations, voice allows operations to achieve cost-effective compliance for real-time material tracking and traceability without burdensome processes or costs.
- Inventory and downstream savings — Reduced inventory holding costs are a direct result of the ability to create a more efficient fulfillment cycle from the receiving dock to the outbound shipment, reducing mis-picks and moving product at the right time to meet customer demand.
Download our, Applying Voice Technology to Multiple DC Workflows for Greater Productivity, white paper to find out all the ways Honeywell Voice can help your e-commerce warehousing and order fulfillment operation deploy voice technology throughout multiple workflows for greater accuracy, productivity, compliance, safety and efficiency.