Mar 22, 2021, Business, Innovations

Voice technologies in logistics – how to use the power of AI

Aneta Skoczewska Business Consultant

Unbelievable as it may sound, voice-directed solutions and speech recognition applications have been present in the world of logistics since the early 90s. Although they have been extremely helpful for many years, traditional technologies with headsets and microphones may not be enough in the second decade of the XXI century. Customers’ demands and expectations went way up and it’s not easy to meet the challenges of the digitized age. But since the 90s a lot has changed. Now, modern voice solutions are scalable and flexible enough to make an indispensable partner for tech-driven logistics. And there are many ways to use them for our own benefit.

Voice-controlled robots

Will robots substitute humans any time soon? Doubtful. But they can be a highly useful support, making our work easier and more efficient. Take for example autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) operating side by side with other workers. They are able to make the process of picking much faster and simpler, saving other employees energy. Using voice and giving a robot instructions over the headsets, lets the worker focus on the picking process without having to constantly glance at a screen. It gives him control and makes completing a task substantially more convenient and faster.

In-depth, data-driven work analysis

Most logistics companies have a warehouse management system (WMS) responsible for gathering necessary data. Although the solution is quite useful, it has a bit of a blind spot when it comes to collecting information about each pick-up, time of completing a task, employees’ daily route, and overall efficiency. Voice picking technology can provide us with more detailed data on products’ and people’s movement, filling an essential information gap.

Multimodality – technologies mix and match

When we’re talking about multimodality in logistics, we mean using at least two technologies for communication between a worker and a WMS or other applied system. But which combination offers the best performance and ergonomics? If we overwhelm an employee with too many devices or pick the wrong technology blend, we may deal with a counterproductive result. 

As a hands-free and eyes-free solution, voice seems to be one of the most practical combination tools. It can be matched with a vision system that provides us with route directions, diagrams and drawings necessary while working in a warehouse. In this scenario, all commands and confirmations can be held by voice and a worker is not distracted by clicking on screen or logging data. 

Streamlined communication with customers

We’ve already talked a bit about how the voice helps logistics companies in organizing their work. But there’s also an aspect of supporting a phone channel communication with customers. A voice assistant can easily answer a phone call and inform clients about the status of their packages. It can provide them with other valid information, collect potential complaints, or take a shipment order. It all depends on what we need a voicebot to assist us with. 

Why is it easier to adopt voice technologies now than in the past?

Some companies might have been afraid of implementing such an unknown, suspicious technology into their operations. 

Will it work the way we expect it to? 

Will it adjust to our workflow?

Will it make our tasks easier or even more complicated?

How long will the implementation take?

Nowadays, the voice technology is so advanced that we no longer have to ask ourselves these questions. And here are some reasons why:

1. Voice system implementation is fast and easy.

It may take up to several weeks to fully implement the system and the employees’ training doesn’t take longer than an hour. Speech recognition works so effectively that the system learns a user’s voice, dialect or even jargon with a 99% accuracy. It understands the commands and is able to ignore a warehouse noise. 

2. It’s definitely cost-efficient.

Voice technology used in a supply chain is one of the lowest cost solutions on the market. A company can buy the hardware and software licence and manage it internally. It can pay for the external data management or have it all covered by discharging a monthly fee for a full stack option.

3. Better, more convenient accessories.

Wireless bluetooth headsets or vests with embedded speakers and microphones are not a huge expense from the company’s perspective, but can significantly improve employees’ comfort and productivity.

4. Voice as an independent solution.

Voice solutions are getting more and more self-reliant, not being dependent on warehouse management systems and any device. A crucial improvement is also connected with switching from Windows-based devices to the Android-based ones. They are more flexible and easier to manage.

Voice technology in logistics – a man’s best friend 

It’s not too bold to say that voice solutions don’t only optimize the processes in advanced logistics but also serve people:

  • Voice systems based on AI make a pick-up-and-go solution without prolonged training and exercises
  • Employees are provided with a safe, comfortable, and ergonomic tool that facilitates their everyday work and reduces the risk of injuries
  • There’s no language barrier – a system can be programmed to communicate in any language a worker feels comfortable in
  • Customer experience is highly improved by a robot answering every phone call – at the same time employees can be transferred to more responsible and less tedious tasks

Need a voice solution? We’re here to help

Voice can enhance many logistics processes – that’s why it’s worth keeping an open mind about how to use it in a business. If you’re still not sure if such a solution matches your organization, just drop us a line. We’re experts in consulting an idea and adjusting proper technologies to a company’s needs and requirements.