WMS and Voice-Directed Work Solutions - Which First and When?

Posted by Speech Interface Design

rsz_time_is_money.jpgWarehouse Management Systems (WMS) and voice-directed work solutions often go hand-in-hand as ways to improve the overall operational performance of a distribution center (DC). With that being case, however, one does not need one in order to run the other, and vice versa. Below, we have outlined the most common questions our prospects have when researching both and the factual answers behind each.

Do I need a WMS to run voice?

Many companies think that they need a WMS in place in order to implement a voice-directed picking or other DC workflow solution. This is NOT the case. Robust voice application software such as Vocollect VoiceLink can be easily integrated with ERP or very basic order management systems. In such implementations, the voice system often adds some of the functionality and value that a WMS would typically provide – for example, the ability to batch pick in order to increase worker productivity by reducing travel time. So, if your company today operates without a WMS, the business case for a voice-directed work solution will be as compelling as ever.

Should I install a WMS or voice first?

Many companies without a WMS think that they should wait to implement one before implementing voice. In most cases, that means waiting for 18 - 24 months or more – as apart from the larger capital investment required for a WMS versus a voice solution, WMS implementations have longer implementation and payback periods. Voice solutions can typically be implemented in less than 6 months and pay for themselves in less than 12 months. So, why wait to start reaping the bottom line benefits of a voice system? The voice system can be integrated with your new WMS if and when it is implemented in the future. Beyond the voice system having paid for itself at least once by the time you do, here is another bonus: your workers will continue to be as productive and accurate as ever -- never knowing that the host system ever changed.

What about my legacy WMS?

In many cases, companies have a legacy WMS in place that they plan to either upgrade or replace sometime in the near future so they do not want to consider adding another system, such as voice picking. These companies should to fully investigate the value and ROI a voice solution can provide as many find that voice delivers the increased operational performance they had been seeking, thereby extending the value and the life of their legacy WMS.
And, again, as above, why wait to start reaping the bottom line benefits for a high ROI voice system when it can be quickly implemented and be easily transitioned to the upgraded or new WMS if and when it is implemented in the future?

Bottom Line

When evaluating your options between a WMS and voice picking, consider the answers to these three common questions to help you decide on your best course of action. We have seen many companies derive great benefit with minimal investment by implementing voice with no WMS or with their legacy WMS. Given that “time is money and money is time”, many see that there is no reason to wait given that voice can be implemented quickly and is flexible to support whatever WMS choices they may make in the future. As one Vocollect voice customer said: “If I was giving some advice to somebody about whether or not to do voice, I'll tell them: Do it, and do it now!”


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Topics: voice picking