WHEN IT COMES TO WAREHOUSE PICKING, VISION AND VOICE ARE SIMPLY BETTER TOGETHER. HERE'S WHY.
When speaking with warehouse operations teams, we’re often asked whether Vision Picking is better than Voice or RF picking. Our take from seeing inside hundreds of picking operations is actually that vision and voice are better together.
For Vision picking solutions that deliver the biggest operational impact (and ROI bang for your buck), the real power is in workflows that leverage vision, voice, and in some cases scanning – to deliver simple and intuitive instructions in ways that humans normally communicate.
To understand why this is true, here’s a roundup of 5 reasons why vision, plus voice and scanning are a better combination to drive productivity, and strengthen your team's picking performance.
1. Make picking accuracy a “no-brainer” by appealing to more human senses.
With vision and voice picking, workers see and hear their instructions as a multimodal experience as they move through the picking process. This means pickers receive instruction through intuitive, natural cues easily and quickly processed by the human brain both audibly and visually. This is made possible via Augmented Reality (AR) smart glasses, that can simultaneously see overlays directly on the pick locations, show text and pictorial information, speak or receive audible information, and even scan via the on-frame camera. When presented to the worker in the optimal sequence, picking systems for the first time can ‘communicate’ with the warehouse worker as they intuitively expect to be instructed. It’s a simple, easy-to-process way of picking correctly - every time. In other words, picking accuracy becomes a no-brainer.
For a warehouse picker, where the daily reality is pinpointing items that look almost identical, this visual-voice-scanning combo is a powerful support mechanism for precise picking. On long, repetitive shifts where “mind numbing” fatigue can risk errors and slow task completion, having inputs on multiple fronts helps reduce doubt and boost confidence in each decision along the way.
2. Overcome delays and repetition from noise interference.
As anyone that works in a warehouse knows, it’s a loud, busy place with forklifts, conveyor, and all kinds of activity taking place at once. For pickers relying solely on voice commands, it’s easy to miss a cue or have a confirmation drowned out by background noise. Add that up over time, and these delays significantly slow down the picking process and are a source of confusion and frustration for pickers.
Here, the persistence of visual cues helps to eliminate any delay. While a voice command is helpful and safe when a picker is walking, and asking the system to ‘Repeat’ does not materially affect the picking speed or accuracy, in other scenarios it costs time. When standing in front of a pick shelf, for instance, the time it takes to ask for a repeat command, hear the response, and mentally process and execute the task can seem like forever. And while veteran workers might just try to remember or deduce based on past experience, this significantly increases the probability of a mis-pick. With Vision picking, even if an audible or text based cue is missed, the worker has persistent visual guidance to proceed with the pick, keeping their rhythm unchanged. No need to ask for a ‘Repeat’, rescan a label, or re-read instructions.
3. Speed picking with instantaneous responses – even before a voice command is completed.
Humans are visual beings. We can process images 60,000 times faster than text. We also remember 80% of images we see, vs 20% of text we read, and only 10% of what we hear. And although we process audible information almost as fast as images, the time it takes for an audible instruction to be delivered dwarfs the time it takes to process it. For a warehouse worker to follow a voice command, they must wait for a full audible instruction to be completely vocalized. In certain cases, this waiting time can stretch out longer than needed. A veteran worker for instance, who knows the process like the back of their hand, may actually be slowed down by waiting for the system to complete the full voice command. The time taken to first hear the command, mentally register it, and begin heading towards that location can end up delaying action. By contrast, visual cues appear instantly – with no delay.
Here, visuals can be the advantage to clue workers into what’s coming next – at an instant glance. Knowing where they’re going next via an arrow, pickers can already be reaching for or heading towards that location. Text can remain persistent on the screen of their AR smart glasses, allowing for an information refresh in a glance. And a red ‘X’ or a green ‘pick qty’ overlay on a shelf or a cart can relay the pick task to even the newest worker in a millisecond. Ultimately by having the best of both tools, vision and voice, at their disposal, the worker is empowered to respond to whatever cue is most appropriate in that moment, shaving time off the process task by task.
Warehouse workforces are diverse, with employees from a range of cultures and linguistic backgrounds coming to work each day. When it comes to training, onboarding, and receiving instruction, language barriers can each significantly influence an operations ability to meet daily production, let alone seasonal spikes.
Here, universally-recognizable visuals can go a long way towards improving the rate at which new staff come up to speed. Through symbols and colors known to almost everyone such as “Red means stop, Green means go,” visual cues tap into commonly-understood commands that barely need explanation. As a result, training can be reduced from weeks down to just minutes, with new or temp staff contributing to operational goals immediately. Additionally, long after training is completed employees always have access to clear, easy-to-follow instruction to enable their best results, and avoid accuracy mistakes driven by repetitive and mundane tasks.
When you equip a workforce with powerful tools like these, the impact extends beyond performance alone. It also impacts how employees feel about their jobs.
By removing barriers to the friction points and frustrations on the job, you’re clearing the way for employees to do their best work. Whether it’s avoiding another frustrating repeated command, or freeing them from extra walking on a route, they’re no longer struggling with unnecessary delays, redundant steps, or wasted effort. They get clarity about what to do – with everything they need to know, supplied in intuitive ways to support them on the job. Instead of being isolated from data, or overwhelmed by information overload, they’re tapped into what they need to know most to perform at their best. It’s a confidence boost across every decision, and heightened engagement in what they’re doing. This enhances job satisfaction, helping retain pickers that could go work at another DC at a moment’s notice. Instead, when they come to work for you, they’ll be wielding the most cutting-edge tools and technologies at the center of what they do.
With better tools to do their work, that enable faster responses and instant reactions, they’re working faster and smarter – and feeling stronger about it too. It’s win-win for the operation.
And there you have it! And these 5 are only just a few of the core benefits of LogistiVIEW’s Vision Picking. In fact, these tools can impact operations beyond picking: driving savings in palletizing, loading, receiving, put-away and more. Check out a demo of LogistiVIEW to learn all the ways that your DC can radically improve operations with vision and voice today. Schedule a demo of LogistiVIEW now.
Learn more about vision and voice solutions in our complete guide.