What is voice picking?

Voice Picking: An Overview

There are many ways that you can organise your picking. The most basic method is a paper-based approach. But more sophisticated warehousing operations choose from a selection of technologies, including: radio frequency identification (RFID) picking, pick to light and voice picking.

Voice picking is seeing an upsurge of interest recently, and it’s no wonder, as it has a number of productivity benefits.

How voice picking works

Kitted out with a headset and microphone, plus a small terminal that’s typically attached to a belt, warehouse operatives receive audible instructions and make verbal confirmations. They are directed to locations in the warehouse by aisle, rack or bin identifiers, where they are then given the number of items to pick. They speak a confirmation into the microphone before receiving the next instruction.

It is especially appropriate for warehouses that have a large number of items spread over a large area and is a particularly practical solution for operations that run piece and carton picking.

The benefits of voice picking

One of the principal benefits of voice picking is that it is hands-free. The warehouse operative doesn’t need to put down their papers or scanner to then pick items, making it a faster and less cumbersome method of picking.

Voice picking is widely acknowledged to be accurate too. Even warehouses with high levels of picking accuracy can reduce errors and improve the precision of their picking.

Using your voice, which is the fastest of all human methods of communication, gives voice picking a greater element of speed than other methods. An operative can remain focused on the task and can confirm instructions or directions far faster using their voice than they can with a computer or even a pen and paper.

Sometimes termed a “heads up” or “eyes free” method, voice picking allows the worker to concentrate on what they are doing rather than keep checking back to a scanner or clipboard.

All of these factors bring greater productivity to the warehouse. Picking is achieved more effectively, and can often bring savings in the thousands of pounds.

The drawbacks of voice picking

Implementing any new solution come with challenges. But it’s perhaps the initial capital outlay for a new system and headsets that is the greatest drawback in launching voice picking in your operation.

However, as voice picking generally brings greater speed and improved accuracy – resulting in better productivity – this means that costs can quickly be recouped with savings in not having to rectify picking mistakes.

Is voice picking right for you?

Picking is one of the most labour-intensive activities within a warehouse and, as such, represents a major area of concern for warehouse managers. If you can do it in a more efficient way, then the warehouse can deliver substantial savings for a business. Voice-directed applications could represent an important progression for your warehouse.

Earlier this year our warehouse management partner, HighJump, acquired Vitech, a voice-directed picking technology company and a reseller of Honeywell’s Vocollect brand of voice-enabled distribution technology. This allows us to offer voice picking technology that we know seamlessly integrates with HighJump Warehouse Edge (Formerly Accellos WMS).

Discover the efficiency gains and cost savings of voice technology by speaking to one of our supply chain consultants. Call us on 020 8819 9071 or contact us using the website form.