As part of the economic forces that shape the directions businesses take, the supply chain can either work with or against companies in a number of industries. When the global economy took a hit during the Great Recession, logistics involving the production and distribution of goods across vast geographies were equally impacted, and this sector is slowly making a return pre-crisis levels.
Logistics and Transportation on the Rise
A recent report released by The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals and presented by Penske Logistics indicated the logistics market is falling short of the growth experienced by other industries as demonstrated by the U.S. gross domestic product. However, costs increased by 2.3 percent compared to the previous year, reaching nearly $1.4 trillion. This is the 25th annual "State of Logistics Report," and this year's report is somewhat subdued in terms of revenue. However, trucks in particular were found to be carrying heavier loads.
The trucking industry has been hurt as of late due to an employment shortage, while the railroad industry has been able to pick up the slack. Meanwhile, inventory levels were up 3 percent in 2013, which likely comes as welcome news to many distributors and manufacturers. With fully-stocked merchandise levels, businesses can operate with confidence knowing they won't likely have issues related to back orders. In addition, manufacturers can rest more easily knowing they have integrated the strongest inventory management tools.
How Can Companies Increase Efficiency?
One of the most innovative ways that organizations can achieve transparency in their supply chain and greater data integrity is through voice-enabled tools. It's not enough to move beyond paper-based business processing. Voice recognition has assumed a prominent role in nearly every industry. Consider the way companies have integrated speech technology to automate customer service channels.
Organizations focused on managing manufacturing and distribution facilities with greater agility would do well to look at the added benefits of voice-enabled processes. For example, a Vocollect white paper highlighted the extent to which many of the leading grocery distributors - 72 percent of the top 75 U.S. companies - use voice picking and voice-directed management tools to efficiently handle receiving, selection, replenishment, cycle-counting and various other processes.
What Are the Benefits of Voice Picking and Voice-Directed Technology?
First, it reduces the amount of multi-tasking that employees working on the floor have to do. Not being able to focus on important tasks can be dangerous, especially working in a fast-paced environment with heavy machinery and many moving parts. Second, voice-based management systems can reduce the number of costly errors that companies experience when employees are forced to transfer information from paper documentation into a computer or software platform. This eyes-free, hands-free solution allows workers to manage data entry using a variety of communication tools, including radios. As a result, distribution centers have experienced increased productivity between 11 and 50 percent, which leads to substantial cost savings.
With the logistics sector rebounding, there's bound to be greater supply chain activity. Manufacturers and distributors must be ready with the most advanced voice picking and voice-directed technology available.