This is the fourth in a series of blogs discussing technologies and trends in voice picking and multi-modal warehousing solutions.
Voice recognition technology and voice-driven picking and response systems have been, and continue to be, important solutions for warehouse workflow efficiency. But as warehousing professionals know all too well, processes and requirements are constantly evolving. One of the newest trends is the growing need for more—and more accurate—data capture.
The Felix-and-Oscar Syndrome
This convergence of voice-enabled solutions and data capture has major implications for the mobile computing devices that help make our warehouse operations run smoothly and productively.
I was a fan of the old television series “The Odd Couple.” If you remember that show, perhaps you’ll agree that these parallel trends of voice and data can make for some somewhat strange bedfellows in the mold of Felix and Oscar. It’s been especially true in mobile computing devices and voice applications.
Voice Alone May Not Be Enough
Although voice-driven solutions are becoming more crucial for warehouse productivity, they’re increasingly not enough on their own. Data capture requirements in the warehouse continue to grow at a staggering pace. In fact, the 2013 Motorola Warehouse Vision Survey revealed that multi-modal voice and scan response will more than double over the next five years. Even greater progress is expected in the use of multi-modal voice and screen guidance where growth is expected to be nearly 2.5 times.
There are a number of reasons for this. First and foremost are the higher levels of visibility and productivity that can be achieved by using more than voice or data capture on their own. The reality is, some processes for capturing data are better with voice while others are better with scanning. Most warehouse operations need an integrated combination of the two.
Another critical reason is that new product traceability regulations are coming soon. One example is the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law in early 2011 and is now in the process of solidifying its specific requirements. Among other things, the FSMA gives the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandatory recall authority. That has huge implications for the food industry, including the meticulous tracking of products and shipments, most often through the use of barcodes. Similar regulatory plans are in the works for the pharmaceutical, medical devices, automotive and other industries.
The question now is, why saddle warehouse workers with devices that don’t have the flexible data capture and information rendering capabilities required to accomplish today’s tightly related workflows? The solution is innovative new multi-purpose, multi-modal devices, which are all about mixing and matching these different voice-enabled, data capture and information delivery applications on a single handheld, wearable, or vehicle-mounted computer. These new not-so-odd-couple devices provide enhanced access and response to accurate mobile data, creating the most efficient workflows possible across picking, receiving, replenishment & loading, and more, especially as task interleaving ties them ever more closely together.
At Motorola Solutions, we and our partner network are at the forefront of enabling the enhanced flexibility, improved productivity and increased ROI of being able to use the same devices and software across different shifts and workflows, providing the capability of beginning to introduce more task interleaving into your warehouse processes. Find out more about the latest solutions available from Motorola Solutions and our network of innovative partners, and learn how multi-modal “odd couple” devices and applications are not so odd after all.
Mark Wheeler is the Director of Supply Chain Solutions - North America for Motorola Solutions