Voice Technology Basics
Voice Picking Systems Combine Speech Recognition, Mobile Computers and Industry-Standard Software
Voice picking and other voice-directed warehouse applications utilize industrial speech recognition technology and standard mobile computers that communicate over wireless networks to other warehouse systems. Voice applications typically integrate with inventory, order, labor management and warehouse management systems to improve hands-on warehouse processes.
Use the links on this page to get more in-depth information about the key technologies used in voice applications, or contact us to schedule a detailed technical discussion.
Speech Recognition Technology
Underlying every effective voice application is a sophisticated speech recognition platform designed to ensure users are understood quickly and accurately, every time they speak. Unlike consumer speech recognition systems, warehouse solutions require near-perfect recognition accuracy even in a noisy environment with a widely diverse user population. The latest warehouse solutions incorporate advanced speech recognition technology with additional noise filtering and audio processing technologies to ensure near-perfect recognition in harsh industrial settings.
Read more about the Lucas speech recognition for a full description of speech technology used in a DC.
Voice users on a warehouse floor wear headsets and mobile computers that provide wireless communication with a server or other back-end systems. The voice software running on the mobile computer provide verbal instructions to the worker and the worker speaks back to the system to confirm his work. His spoken responses are interpreted by the speech recognition system.
Early voice picking systems used dedicated voice appliances – a purpose-built mobile computer meant only for voice directed warehouse applications. Since the early 2000s, all of the major industrial computer manufacturers (Zebra/Motorola/Psion, Honeywell/LXE/Intermec, etc.) have introduced voice-capable mobile computers. These so-called multi-modal devices can be used for voice applications and for traditional RF applications that use the device screen and built-in barcode scanner. Since then, the voice market has migrated away from voice-only hardware, and new voice applications have emerged that combine voice direction and speech recognition with barcode scanning in a single, seamless workflow. These solutions can also be run on rugged smartphones and other new generations of wearable devices.
Learn the key factors to consider in selecting the best device for your DC.
Software Architecture and Integration With Other Systems
Voice applications that run on a mobile computer (the voice client) can integrate with other IT systems (such as warehouse management or inventory systems) in a number of ways. If your WMS includes built-in voice picking functionality, the voice client can connect directly to the WMS. This direct approach provides rapid deployment for basic voice capabilities. In some cases, however, DCs will need to customize the standard WMS voice functionality to address their specific process and operations needs. A good first step to determine if a direct voice-WMS solution is right for you is to define an optimal voice process flow for your operation and to use this as the basis for a gap analysis of your WMS voice capabilities.
Many DCs using voice today use a server-based architecture in which the voice client communicates via a voice server to back-end WMS or inventory systems. Like the direct approach, this multi-tier application architecture can provide real-time integration with WMS systems. The advantage is that the server-based voice system provides greater flexiblity to implement an optimal voice process (or processes) in your DC without the time, cost and risk of customizing your back-end systems. In addition, server-based solutions using voice (like Lucas Warehouse Optimization Solutions) provide additional process management and configuration tools, and advanced reporting and business intelligence dashboards that complement and extend existing systems.
Understand how voice and WMS systems can work together.