Voice FAQs

Check out our Voice WMS FAQs below to discover how this innovative technology can increase your productivity, picking accuracy and profit.

What is Voice Technology?
Voice technology, as used in the warehouse, involves the use of a wearable computer with a headset and microphone so that warehouse operatives receive instructions by voice and verbally confirm their actions back to the system. The wearable computer communicates with the Warehouse Management System (WMS) via a radio frequency (RF) local area network

What can I use it for?
The most common application is Voice Picking of customer orders, where improved accuracy and productivity offer a fast payback, but the Accord warehouse management software (WMS) also enables you to use it for Goods Received, Pallet Put-away and Letdown, and Stock Checking.

Can I use my existing RF network?
Provided your network is 802.11b compliant, with 11 Mbps or 2 Mbps access points, it is likely you can use the existing network. It will be necessary to conduct an RF survey to check RF coverage in the warehouse because the radio reception of a belt worn unit can differ from that of handheld or truck-mounted terminals.

What are accuracy improvements can I expect?
Improvements in order picking accuracy are dramatic and accuracy of 99.9% (one error per thousand picks) or better is usually achieved. The improvements that you obtain will depend on your current method of order picking, but if you are moving from a paper-based system to voice-directed picking, picking errors are usually reduced by between 80% and 90%.

What productivity gains can I expect?
Warehouse picking productivity usually improves by 10% to 20% because the hands-free and eyes-free operation speeds up picking, and trips back to the assignment desk are eliminated.  Administrative productivity is improved because the work of printing and distributing picking lists or labels is eliminated, as is the task of keying picking confirmations, picking amendments and catch weights into the WMS.

What other benefits will I get?

  • Eliminating paper picking labels brings a significant cost saving in the cost of the paper alone.

  • The real-time radio communication enables real-time stock updating. This allows the triggering of letdowns to replenish picking faces, streamlining warehouse management by optimising the use of forklift trucks and preventing re-picks or waiting time due to empty picking faces. Cycle counting can be built into the replenishment (letdown) task, improving the efficiency of the stock checking process.  The improved accuracy of stock recording leads to improved service level and less time spent investigating stock discrepancies

  • Safety is improved as the hands-free and eyes-free operation leads to fewer accidents. Eliminating paper also leads to less waste paper or label backing sheets, resulting in a cleaner, tidier and safer warehouse.

  • The training time for new pickers is reduced by the use of voice, as a voice-directed task is easier to learn than interpreting a paper task.  Training time can often be reduced by as much as half.

What is the payback?
If you operate more than one picking shift then the costs are shared across picking shifts and payback can be achieved in as little as 6 months.  If you operate a single picking shift, then a payback of one year is more realistic.

Can you help me calculate my Return on Investment (ROI)?
Yes, we will ask you a few questions about your current operation and help you calculate an ROI for the system.  Alternatively, you can complete the payback calculator online.

Can I use it in the freezer?
Yes, Voice Technology is ideal for use in the freezer, and the hands’ free operation offers even greater productivity improvements as gloves hamper the use of paper or radio data terminals.  The terminals we recommned can operate in temperatures down to minus 29°C. Voice WMS FAQs

Does it work in a noisy environment?
Yes, the system was specifically designed for noisy warehouses and industrial environments and so it filters out and rejects  background noises.

What’s the difference between speaker-dependent and speaker-independent voice recognition?
Voice WMS uses speaker-dependent voice technology.  This means that each user is required train the system with their  individual speech pattern, dialect, or language.  Voice training takes only ten to fifteen minutes per user. Training allows the system to be much more accurate and robust in an industrial environment where there is a wide range of accents, dialects, and languages, and much extraneous noise.

Speaker independent technology is designed to match the speaker’s voice to previously created, generic voice patterns, and is less suitable for the warehouse environment.

Does each user just have to do the voice training once?
It is often sufficient for a user to perform the voice training just once, and it takes only ten to fifteen minutes.  However, during voice training users do not always speak as they normally would when out in the warehouse. If the system consistently fails to understand a particular word the user can retrain their unit by simply pressing a button on the unit and speaking that word once more.

Can it handle different dialects and accents? Voice WMS FAQs
Yes, each user trains the system for their own voice so that  it can accurately recognise individual user’s speech patterns,  regardless of accent or dialect.  A user can also  train the system to recognise responses in a different language.

Does each worker need his own unit?
You need enough units to cover the number of workers on the biggest shift, plus a small percentage of spares. 

How often do the batteries need charging?
The amount of time a unit can operate on a single battery charge depends on a number of factors.  The amount of power consumed by the radio card varies significantly between different radio cards, the cold temperatures in a freezer also reduce battery life, as well as the amount of radio communication needed by the application also affect power consumption.  Typical times are between 4 and 8 hours.  In ambient temperatures, a battery charge may last a whole shift, depending on the other factors. Operation with a faster RF network in a freezer would almost certainly require a battery change during a shift.  However, standard and heavy-duty batteries are available.

Are the units robust?
Yes, theterminals are designed to be rugged and have been drop tested with multiple drops of 5 feet onto concrete.

How much does the unit weigh? Voice WMS FAQs
The units weigh less than a pound, including a standard battery.

How easy is it for workers to get used to it?
Most workers are enthusiastic and get used to it very quickly.  It is usually quicker to train a new order picker in voice-directed picking than paper-based picking.

Can I use it if I have a cold?
The speech recognition is not usually affected by a cold, but hoarseness or laryngitis may affect operation. However, voice training can be done within a shift if problems occur.

Can hearing impaired people use it?
As long as the users are not 100% hearing impaired, they can often use the system.

What happens if a user is out of range of an RF access point?
The terminal has onboard intelligence and can continue to operate out of RF coverage, but the functions available will depend on the application.  During order picking the entire order is downloaded into the terminal so that a picker would not normally notice a break in RF coverage.  However, in some exceptional circumstances, the Terminal will need to communicate with the server, in which case the application waits until the unit is within RF range again.

How does a picker confirm what he has picked?
The picker will normally read back the last 2 or 3 digits of the barcode so that the system can check the correct item has been picked.  The picker does not have to read back the entire barcode.

Is the voice transmitted over the RF network?
No, speech synthesis and speech recognition is carried out on the unit, and only data is transmitted over the RF network.  If voice were transmitted over the network, the bandwidth would restrict the number of users and high-performance voice servers would be required.  Because the terminals only transmits data and not voice, it does not suffer from these limitations.

How many terminals can I add to the system?
There are no practical system limitation to the number of terminals that can simultaneously use the system, as voice is not transmitted over the network.  However, the main server must be capable of processing the transactions in real-time.

How long does it take to download a user’s voice profile to the terminal?
The user’s voice template is downloaded to the terminal over the RF network at the start of a shift and takes only a few seconds.

If you have any further questions about Voice WMS or Accord, please contact our consultants using the contact form above. 

Voice WMS FAQs

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