Amazon recently announced plans to open a new 1-million-square-foot fulfillment center in Kenosha, Wis. Employees at the facility will pick, pack and ship small items such as books and electronics. Amazon also recently announced plans to open a high-tech distribution center in Moreno Valley, Calif., according to The Orange County Register.
The Moreno Valley facility will be similar to a high-tech distribution center that Amazon has already opened in San Bernardino, Calif. The existing facility runs 24/7 and relies on 1,400 workers and state-of-the-art automation to keep up with increasing demand. According The Register, on the peak shopping day in 2012, customers around the world ordered 306 items a second.
Increased Demand Calls for Better Technology
Most distributors, especially those in more niche markets, rarely experience demand like that of Amazon, at 306 items per second. However, demand for distribution centers is growing as e-commerce flourishes, and for supply chain managers, that means the need to find technology that can keep pace.
More orders also create a higher incidence of error and inventory control issues, especially if data collection is not up to date. For many warehouses, order numbers are quickly surpassing the amount that paper picking can be expected handle. Even in smaller warehouses, accuracy is usually improved with barcode scanners or other automated data collection solutions.
The Power of Speech Recognition Software
As warehouses move at a faster speed, technology that can keep pace is harder to find. For some warehouses, even state-of-the art barcode scanning software may not be enough. To meet growing demands, or just to simplify warehouse management, supply chain leaders are turning to voice picking technology.
Voice picking offers many advantages for warehouses seeking to improve inventory control, speed, accuracy and safety. Voice recognition software gives workers in the warehouse a hands-free approach to data collection and also permits them to keep their eyes on their work, not on a scanner or barcode. Like other automated data collection solutions, the technology provides warehouse management systems real-time updates, which improves inventory.
"The Power of Voice," a study by Supply Chain Insights, found that warehouse operation satisfaction was higher among voice picking warehouses. Only 46 percent of paper users were satisfied with warehouse operations, while 68 percent of barcode users and 81 percent of voice users said the same. The study certainly suggests the implementation of newer technology can increases satisfaction with overall warehouse operations.
The study also documented specific reasons that respondents gave for their satisfaction with voice technology. Among voice picking users, 63 percent said satisfaction was related to quality improvements, such as better accuracy and fewer errors. Usability came in second at 28 percent, highlighting satisfaction with the hands-free method of data collection and the fact the technology does not require labels. Satisfaction was also based on employee benefits, such as the increased safety level and the simple training involved.