NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. –
Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Hill, Utah, has been using Voice Pick technology in their high traffic areas since February.
“The voice pick technology is a system that allows the operator the opportunity to move from a radio frequency device to a wireless device using verbal commands given to a talk unit, or ‘talkman,’” said Preston Kriegshauser, DDHU deputy director.
“An implementation team traveled to the DDHU site where they provided classroom and hands-on training to both the supervisors and workforce users of the devices. This included functionality of the hardware, a comprehensive list of vocal commands that operators use to interact with the software and the process of using the unit to complete pick transactions.”
The initial set up began with a with a training phase where the operator chooses from a variety of human sounding “voices” they would prefer to talk to and get responses from. Both female and male voice responses are available, as well as many languages other than English. The operator trains the unit to understand their voice by repeating several different phrases and sentences into the voice unit, and making corrections along the way, until the operator and the talkman are in sync and understand each other’s vocal patterns. That “trained” until is then assigned to that operator.
The voice suite also includes a very light infra-red scanner that is worn on the index finger of either hand. Additionally, a headset and microphone are worn to speak and listen to commands to and from the unit as well as to a mobile printer for required pick documentation.
To begin their task, the operator tells the unit “ready” and is directed to the first pick location for that task. The operator scans the location to verify accuracy. If incorrect, the voice unit will tell the operator they are not at the correct location and will repeat the required location. The operator then tells the unit the national stock number of the item to be picked at the location. If correct they proceed and if not, the correction is made through the voice unit communication to the operator. The voice unit informs the operator how many items to pick and the operator repeats the number as the pick is completed.
This basic sequence of checks and balances is continued until the full task is finished. This system doesn’t require paper pick tickets and engages operators with their performed work.
Currently, DLA Distribution Hill is successfully using this system in three of the highest volume areas and very much look forward to implementing this technology in all warehouses when the Location Identification Program, or LIP, is complete.
LIP is a storage technique where material storage locations are created to fit certain sizes of material/ boxes. The size of the material is measured and entered into a system, currently DSS, and the locations are plan-o-graphed, or more simply, the warehouse locations are profiled to create locations. When material is received and locations are plan-o-graphed, the system will automatically assign the material to an available location which can most easily fit the new material based on available locations that meet or just exceed the size of the container received.
“The workforce was, and still is, very receptive to this system. Interviews with the users are overall very positive concerning the hardware and process,” said Kriegshauser.
“At this point it is going very well and we do not expect that to change. Positive feedback continues to come in from users. I believe at this point we are being more successful in the area of quality and accuracy from more accurate location scans and reading of stock numbers.”