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Voice-Directed Warehouse Systems

Voice-directed, also called speech-based, technology uses speech recognition and speech synthesis to allow workers to communicate with warehouse managers or a warehouse management system (WMS) without having to stop any work. Voice-directed systems typically consist of a wearable computer and a headset. Here is a sampling of what is available.

VoiceLink offering receives SAP integration

Vocollect Inc.'s VoiceLink 3.0 WCS (Warehouse Control System) offering has received certified integration status from SAP AG, a provider of business software.

The new Vocollect VoiceLink 3.0 WCS for use with the SAP ERP application combines voice applications integrated with SAP systems, driving improvement across the global supply chain for both distribution center and information technology operations. The SAP Integration and Certification Center (SAP ICC) has certified that Vocollect VoiceLink 3.0 WCS properly integrates with the SAP R/3 Enterprise application Release 4.7 and SAP ERP 6.0 via the warehouse control systems 4.7 (WM-LSR) interface, which helps connect automated warehouse systems such as warehouse control units to the warehouse management system.

Through its certified integration, VoiceLink 3.0 WCS provides customers worldwide with the assurance that they can quickly integrate Vocollect Voice with SAP ERP and warehouse management applications. The integration of VoiceLink 3.0 WCS with SAP systems provides the ability to benefit from voice applications while maintaining access to existing functionality, with near real-time data exchange.

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Voice technology can enhance efficiency

Wireless voice technology can help companies that deal with the manual handling of products better manage their warehouse and distribution operations. Voice technology is helping to increase efficiencies and improve bottom lines, while improving working conditions and retaining trained workers. The technology operates via wearable computers and headsets, which allows a running dialogue with the worker as tasks are performed.

Voice technology is more affordable now, largely because of the shift from proprietary hardware, to open, service-oriented, standards-based software. The idea behind standards-based software is that services can be independent of each other, but can be combined to accomplish a business objective. Voxware says it was the first company to introduce an open, service-oriented architecture (SOA)-based voice software product for the supply chain industry. In the warehouse, the same voice services can be assembled in different ways to voice-enable different processes in the distribution center. Also, since standards-based software is based on commonly available, internationally recognized standards, upgrades can be accomplished must faster and cheaper because the pool of developers who can work with the technology is greatly expanded.

Voxware's open standards approach makes it possible for customers to take control of their voice system by implementing and evolving it themselves. Not having to rely on the voice vendor makes the implementation process more cost-effective and allows for a more seamless conversion and execution throughout multiple warehouses and distribution centers.

Another attractive feature of wireless voice technology is the fact that it relies on wearable computers instead of hand-held devices. Because it's hands- and eyes-free, voice technology allows workers that focus on the manual handling of products — and those in demanding physical environments — to improve their safety conditions, accuracy rates, productivity rates, and often morale. In many cases, error rates drop by 50%, which translates into accuracy rates as high as 99.98%.

Voice technology is also taking safety to the next level. In fact, after implementing voice software, one company reported it virtually eliminated accidents on the floor while reducing workers' compensation claims by more than 70%. Even more impressive, these costs were reduced even though the total workforce increased by approximately 25%.

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