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Entries » Blog » WAREHOUSE DEVICES THAT CAN WALK, TALK, AND CHEW GUM: The need for Multi-Modal Voice-Picking Solutions

WAREHOUSE DEVICES THAT CAN WALK, TALK, AND CHEW GUM: The need for Multi-Modal Voice-Picking Solutions

Created Jun 02 2014, 5:00 AM by Motorola Solutions

This is the third in a series of blogs by Mark Wheeler discussing technologies and trends in voice picking and multi-modal warehousing solutions.

It’s a phrase we’ve all used, or at least heard, umpteen times. When you needed to have a job done well, you’d give it to someone who can “walk, talk and chew gum at the same time.” That phrase popped into my mind the other day in the context of the technology needed to help today’s complex warehouse operations function efficiently and cost-effectively. When you think about it, it’s actually a phrase that can easily apply to the hardware and software you’re considering for your warehousing operations.

After briefly reminiscing about chewing gums like Beeman’s Pepsin and Black Jack, here’s why I thought the phrase was relevant. Today’s mobile computing devices provide communications and data capture throughout the facility; that’s the “walk” part. Today’s voice recognition and guidance software enables more efficient and accurate picking processes; that’s the “talk” part. But what was most interesting to me was the “chew gum” part.

When's the last time you had one of these?

Picking and Much More
Modern warehouses are marvels of integrated processes and workflows that enable facilities to operate smoothly and productively. Picking is one of the most important of these, but it’s hardly the only one. You know them: receiving, put-away, replenishment, cycle counting, packing, staging, loading, and many more. The reality is that each of these processes has their own unique workflows, therefore the “perfect solution” for one will look different than the “ideal solution” for another.

Shifting Requirements
That’s why, when you’re looking for a voice picking solution, you need to keep in mind other tasks the devices and software are going to be used for within or across shifts. If the same device is going to be used in one shift for picking but used for receiving and put-away in the next, that calls for different requirements both on the device itself and the software that runs on it. Multi-modal inputs such as barcode scanning, keyed entry and other data capture capabilities, as well as the ability to render information to the user with a screen when necessary, are extremely useful tools in many of these workflows. With some voice-only solutions, these same tasks may be extremely awkward, difficult, or downright impossible.The ideal is matching hardware devices and software applications not only to voice picking workflows, but also with how speech enablement software and multi-modal hardware can work hand-in-hand to elevate a variety of warehouse processes and workflows. In the dynamic world of the warehouse and distribution center, having flexibility in your solution has never been more important to achieving the next levels of productivity gains at an optimal Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

The Power of Choice in Voice
Today’s multi-modal approach also has serious implications for the type of system you choose: closed or open. With a closed, single provider approach, you’re generally limited to just a few hardware options and a single set of software capabilities. That means you often cannot take advantage of the most innovative new devices and software. An open systems approach enables you to choose from a wide range of hardware options ranging from traditional handhelds to wearable devices to truck-mounted terminals and more. It also allows you to select software applications offered by the most important technology innovators in the marketplace, from traditional middleware to innovative cloud-based solutions to exclusively terminal-side approaches.

Open-Platform flexible solutions.JPGOpen-platform flexible solutions connect your operation.

At Motorola Solutions, we’ve long been a leader in innovative warehouse and supply chain technologies. We are committed to offering our customers choice across a multitude of innovative options. ( erprise/blog/2014/05/02/open-vs-closed-making-voice-picking-systems-more-flexibl e-and-less-costly). Along the way, we have forged lasting relationships with an extensive and powerful partner network, including many leading voice and multi-modal software providers.

Learn more about the latest solutions available from Motorola and our network of innovators, and find the best ways to source warehouse hardware and software solutions that can walk, talk… and chew gum.

Mark Wheeler is the Director of Supply Chain Solutions - North America for Motorola Solutions

Read other blogs by supply chain expert Mark Wheeler.

Are you ready to pick a new direction now? Motorola Solutions is ready to help you improve your operation.