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Other Voices: 10 tips for selecting a voice picking vendor

By Lloyed Lobo
Director of business development, AL Systems
April 13, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following column by Lloyed Lobo, director of business development for AL Systems, is part of Modern’s new Other Voices column. The series, published on Wednesdays, will feature ideas, opinions and insights from end users, analysts, systems integraters and OEMs. Click on the link to learn about submitting a column for consideration.

Voice Picking is one of the most scalable order fulfillment solutions on the market and can be configured for virtually any application in your distribution center. Below are 10 useful tips to consider when selecting a Voice Picking vendor.

1. Analyze your needs. Voice Picking is best used for applications with large number of SKUs located throughout the distribution center, that require few reaches per unit of travel

2. Ensure your Voice Picking vendor understands warehouse and distribution center operations. Your potential vendors need to be familiar with these types of operations, not just the hardware and/or software they’re offering. Be sure they know what your associates do on a daily basis and understand the efficiencies you are trying to create.

3. Don’t buy more than you need. No vendor should require that you change your current shipping, receiving, and warehousing processes. Don’t make these alterations unless they improve operational efficiency and productivity.

4. Explain the uniqueness of your warehouse operation. Not all picking, packing, and receiving operations are the same, so the vendor must be able to accommodate your warehouse or distribution center. For example, is your warehouse climate-controlled? Are items shelved, containerized, or palletized? Do you provide cross-docking services, and will the Voice Picking equipment work in these areas? The vendor needs to consider these factors when planning your solution.

5. Take stock of mobile computing devices. If you are happy with your current hardware, ask if the vendor will allow you to keep and utilize it. Be sure you can still leverage your existing vendor relationships.

6. Consider the ease of integration with existing systems. How well the Voice Picking solution will integrate with your warehouse control system, warehouse management system, and other solutions? What if one of those systems changes? Make sure you can easily integrate systems now and in the future and are not limited by custom integration software.

7. Ask for references. As with any service provider, find out how the vendor treats its customers and handles problems.

8. Investigate the company’s financial stability. Make sure the vendor will be able to meet your warehouse needs now as well as in the future. Ask about profitability, current and prospective customers, future plans, and customer service.

9. Look for excellent voice-recognition technology. Choose a vendor that offers high-quality solutions, and make sure the technology can filter out background noise. The voice engine must be able to “hear” and distinguish the speaker’s voice over all other noise.

10. Don’t let language become a hurdle. You can select speaker-dependent solutions and get core vocabularies in a variety of languages. If your workers comprise multiple ethnicities and speak several languages, make sure the Voice Picking solution will understand what they say.

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About the Author

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. Contact Bob Trebilcock.


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