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Let’s talk about Wearables and Voice Technologies – is is time to try these on in your business?

wearable ring scannerIn the ongoing search for productivity gains via technology, manufacturing and warehousing leaders have moved from paper to scanners to powerful rugged mobile computers. Now the next phase is well underway…. the adoption of wearable technology and voice-direction as improved methods by which to interact with the computer.

‘Wearables’ is a broad category which, in the warehouse environment, includes devices such as finger- or hand-worn scanners.‘Voice’ tools enable audio interaction with the computer, either one-way (providing audio user instructions) or two-way (the user can also speak back to the computer).

According to Zebra’s 2018 Manufacturing Vision Study, between 2018 and 2022 the use of wearables will increase by 38% (from 40-55% of plant floors). Voice tool usage will increase by 13% (from 45-51% of plant floors).

Wearables & voice use on the plant floor
Information source: Zebra Technologies

The Need for Speed (and Accuracy)
What’s behind this increasing use of these technologies? The need for ever-increasing levels of speed and accuracy – shipping more orders per shift, with lower error rates.

The chart below lays out the primary factors driving wearable usage, as presented by VDC Research. The top factor driving wearable initiatives is increasing employee productivity by keeping users hands-free (59.6%).

Primary factors driving wearable initiatives
Information source: VDC Research

Correspondingly, the impact of voice tools can be dramatic. As seen in the chart below, VDC Research reports that 87% of companies adopting voice report at least an 87% improvement in picking accuracy, while 89% report at least a 10% increase in worker productivity. Those are exceptional gains for any business!

Voice impact on warehouse performance
Information source: VDC Research

The impact of wearable and voice technologies will generally be higher in high-pick-frequency environments. (The seconds saved per transaction will add up faster when there are more transactions.) These technologies aren’t right for every situation, but can be massively impactful in extremely active environments. Also worth noting: if pick error rates are high, voice can be an ideal tool for mitigating expensive errors.

How To Get There – CSSI Can Help
How do you assess whether wearable and voice tools are right for you? We recommend that you start with a conversation with CSSI Technologies. Our experienced team can explore your processes and help to determine the likely impact of these products.

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