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
A very important focus for grocery managers is the checkout line. This is where the transactions happen, of course, but it’s also the last time for stores to influence the shopping experience of their customers.
Many things can happen at checkout that can cause the line to grow and snake all the way back to the meat department. Coupon redemption, pricing arguments between customers and cashiers, people leaving the line to get one more item, changing shifts of cashiers, and more can have the potential of sending your valuable customers home frustrated after spending far too long in the checkout line.
Research shows that customers will remember a store positively or negatively based on how they felt when they left. Therefore, making sure the checkout process is as smooth and as efficient as possible is a priority.
The MP6000 Multi-Plane Bi-Optic Scanner from Motorola Solutions can really make a difference at checkout. How? The MP6000 will save customers’ time and improve the speed with which they leave your store by swiftly swiping their loyalty cards - paper or electronic - across a customer-facing scanner. Cashiers are free to ring up purchases at any time by eliminating this step from their routine. Also, this machine is fast. Really fast. The 2D imaging engine in the MP6000 gives it incredible swiping speed. It scans bar codes at a higher rate than any laser bioptic available today, both 1D and 2D, on paper or plastic, even smartphone screens.
Be sure to “check out” the technical details online at www.MotorolaSolutions.com/MP6000.
Apologies on the pun, but the MP6000 really is the way to get your checkout lanes flowing smoothly, which will be a great experience for your customers. And the fact that it’s the last thing they’ll remember about their shopping trip makes it a wonderful way to keep your customers coming back again and again for more great experiences.
David Turturro is a Senior Product Manager for 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.
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.
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.
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. (http://communities.motorolasolutions.com/community/north_america/fresh_ideas_ent 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.