Category Archives: Employee Happiness

Voice-controlled WMS Primes Distribution Centers for Growth

Voice-controlled warehouse management system (WMS) applications have rapidly matured into a proven solution for improving the speed and accuracy of processes within distribution center and warehouse operations. These applications are most commonly associated with picking and order selection, however, many warehouses that use voice picking have also adapted it for other functions such as receiving, put-away, stock replenishment, truck loading, returns and cycle counting.

Why is voice such a valuable tool in the warehouse? The biggest reason is because voice-controlled applications allow warehouse workers to use both hands while picking, packing, and shipping items – rather than needing one hand to scan barcodes and other labels. In the case of Latitude WMS users, the system creates an efficient order of tasks, and uses simple instructions to guide workers to pick and pull relevant items.

Compared to traditional warehouse processes using pen and paper or handheld computers and barcode scanning, a voice picking system creates a hands-free, heads-up user workflow. In the case of Jensen Distribution Services, a full-line wholesale distributor serving 11 western states, voice-controlled processes were slowly rolled out using Latitude after it was first deployed in 2010. Jensen particularly noticed a dramatic improvement when the company moved from batch picking and label picking to a voice-controlled system that allowed workers in the warehouse to go completely hands free.

Jim Hart, senior vice president of operations at Jensen, summed up the benefits of voice. “Quality is huge here at Jensen, so with eCommerce fulfillment transactions growing 80 percent in the past year, Latitude with Vocollect has allowed Jensen to pick a perfect, or a near perfect order. We’re tracking at 0.05 percent errors, compared with 1 percent before our WMS. In fact, this system makes it difficult to make a mistake.”

For more information about how PathGuide’s Latitude WMS integrates with voice, visit our website here.

How long does it take to learn a warehousing management?

Intermec RF bar code scanner

Intermec RF scanner

Any warehousing management system involves new hardware and software, which can initially scare some warehouse employees. RF terminals (bar code scanners), for instance, while easy to use, can involve input skills that feel foreign to warehouse employees who aren’t familiar with texting. Incidentally, this is why some young adults are very adept at using bar code scanners/RF terminals – it’s more or less like using their own smartphone, just a bit heavier.

Are you worried that your warehouse employees will be slow to learn a new warehousing management system? When choosing a warehousing management solution, take the following training concepts under consideration:

  • A well-designed warehousing management system (WMS) has an intuitive interface that will seem familiar to anyone who is capable of surfing the web, which should be most people who work in warehousing jobs. It will be easily navigable, and simple to pick up. It should be accompanied by a web-accessible online help system and/or print documentation. User-centric design automatically reduces training time and costs.
  • Some warehouses have a high turnover rate, because local warehouse jobs are easy to find. If your warehouse employees flee to new jobs frequently, you’ll benefit from a good warehousing management system that automates manual processes. Drastically reducing training time for new employees ensures that you can easily grow your labor force as your business expands.
  • Warehousing solution training needs to use proven teaching methodologies to instruct, inform, and assure end users of the viability and advantages of the new system. A smart WMS vendor has a proven track record of getting new users up-to-speed in under a week.
  • Good warehousing managers will designate several system experts from their current warehouse employees who receive advanced training and can be counted on to help new and uncertain users become accustomed to the system. These should be employees who have settled into warehouse careers and are natural managers.
  • In-depth training must be provided as a part of any warehousing management implementation, and any go-live should include round-the-clock support from your WMS solution provider.

Learn how a warehousing management solution like Latitude WMS can easily make your warehouse run better. Call PathGuide today. 1.888.627.9797.