In 2014, technology in the supply chain may see some radical changes, as wearable devices continues to gain popularity. Technology for the consumer is advancing quickly, with offerings such as Google Glass and smartwatches entering the market. According to Manufacturing Business Technology, wearable technology for the consumer is still in the early stages, but it's versatile applications are making it more appealing.
The industry itself includes some technology that has been around a while, such as hearing aids. An aging population could increase demand for devices that can track heart rate or blood sugar. Technology has also gained a boost from voice recognition, which often goes hand-in-hand with devices that are worn. Speech recognition by smartphones is hardly a gimmick anymore - users can perform more functions than ever before simply by using their voice.
Voice Technology in the Distribution Warehouse
One application for the use of voice-directed wearable technology is in the warehouse. According RFgen's white paper "Using Voice-Directed Work in the Supply Chain," the last two decades have seen significant growth for voice-directed work in the global supply chain.
Warehouses require constant multitasking by workers. To have accurate inventory and speedy shipping times, workers must make sure they are pulling the correct products off of shelves and that inventory is updated quickly. According to the white paper, voice technology allows workers to operate with greater safety, accuracy and productivity.
Distributions Center Managers In Many Industries Can Benefit from Voice
Distributors in the food supply chain adopted voice technology early on. While they were among the first, the improved benefits of voice picking software have quickly spread. The advantages for any supply chain can be remarkable:
- Productivity improvements can range from 11 to 50 percent. The technology can be used by all workers, even those who speak a different language, so training costs and times are reduced.
- Because check digits must be read at the location of each product, accuracy is guaranteed to be nearly 100 percent. The trickle-down impact of shipping the wrong material can be very costly, so the return on investment for voice recognition software is realized quickly.
- Safety also benefits greatly because workers' hands and eyes can remain free while they multitask. Keeping workers focused and alert in a busy warehouse can prevent injuries and accidents.