Recent Honeywell research of Vocollect Voice Technology users showed that within a maximum of two years, half of logistics managers expect to or have already seen an ROI after deploying a Voice solution.*
This fast return ran counter to another finding of the research; that nearly half of all non-Voice users surveyed saw cost as the greatest barrier to the adoption of Voice-directed operations.
In fact, Voice users showed an 80 per cent improvement in picking accuracy, together with a 60 per cent increase in picking speeds – all elements that help businesses to maximise efficiency and reduce operational costs.
And importantly, the survey showed that 60 percent of Voice users were able to implement the solution quickly and effectively within two days, which reduced the cost of downtime associated with new IT system deployments, and allowed businesses to reap the returns of Voice sooner.
While Voice solutions offer a whole host of ROI benefits, these cannot be achieved quickly and effectively without the addition of other elements. While Voice installs easily, a deployment involves much more than turning on the software and system. Workflow refinement is a vital element because implementing Voice in a distribution centre (DC) with inefficient processes will not generate the desired results. When implemented together, process improvements and Voice-directed technology can yield impressive results in productivity and accuracy gains.
The real challenge then, after determining that Voice could be a good fit for your DC, is to follow a disciplined approach to investigation, cost-justifying and ultimately deploying Voice technology in your operations in a way that will maximise Voice’s proven results and get the system up and running in the shortest timeframe. Only by doing this is it possible to achieve the estimated ROI.
But how can these improvements best be identified and achieved? An audit is the best way to assess all work processes within the DC and evaluate the effectiveness of implementing Voice.
Every individual task can be broken down to its component steps to ascertain where improvements can be made to lessen downstream process impact. From there, the estimated business results of Voice can be identified. The idea then is not just to add technology, but to implement that technology in such a way that operations are fully optimised to achieve the highest level of performance possible. The expected result can also be used towards calculating the ROI of a Voice deployment.
Once Voice and process optimisation is achieved within the picking function, it can also be expanded to additional workflows to generate further cost savings and performance improvements. Examples include task interleaving between picking, replenishment, packing and shipping, as well as a reduction in the need for stock audits when all product movement is automatically tracked by Voice.
Other savings that may contribute to future cost reduction include lower equipment replacement and maintenance costs, paper supplies, less training time and staff turnover, safety enhancements, less product returns, and increased customer satisfaction.
Technology changes of any kind will fail to successfully deliver results in the desired timeframe if the support of all workers isn’t sought first. Even the most loyal employees can be resistant to change therefore it’s essential to engage staff early to explain the benefits of deploying a Voice solution. Managers need to be on hand to help staff understand that Voice will help them perform their jobs better and is not something to be wary of.
Identifying a change management champion early on helps to motivate new operators and lead the Voice deployment project through the involvement of representatives from different teams in the organisation – supervisors, workers, trainers etc.
It is also essential to communicate regularly before, during and after the Voice roll-out to ensure everyone in the organisation feels included, and are informed as to what is happening and how it affects them.
A successful roll-out is not the end of the story when it comes to Voice. Installing Voice is just the beginning of the Voice journey. Businesses should take advantage of the wealth of data that the Voice system, working in tandem with a WMS, captures. The data can be used to analyse areas of inefficiencies where improvements can be made to operations.
Additionally, once workers see the real benefits of Voice, it is a straightforward process to initiate further changes to processes.
The value of Voice is there for all to see, however more than ever before, businesses are emphasising time to ROI. Even proven technologies can risk not meeting projected ROI timeframes if best practice is not followed throughout the roll-out. Best practice involves looking beyond viewing Voice as purely a technology roll-out, to other elements of DC operations including process improvement, adding Voice to more applications, staff support, and constant performance data analysis.
For more information on the benefits of Voice please contact us today