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Pick-by-voice – Voice-directed warehousing

The Zetes picking system increases productivity and reduces the error rate.

ASSMANN made significant changes to its picking system three years ago. Since then, employees in the warehouse have used a voice-controlled system to communicate. This picking system optimises and simplifies warehouse processes – successfully so. Productivity in the wood-picking warehouse has since risen by 20 per cent, while the error rate has fallen to zero in the same period.

On average, the office furniture produced every day in ASSMANN's two-shift system consists of ten individual pieces – roughly 4,500 parts that the picking staff individually remove from the warehouse shelves and then arrange in sets for downstream assembly. They used to carry long lists on which they crossed out the individual items. Now their hands are free, as the pick-by-voice system guides them through the warehouse. Recent arrivals or floaters can also be trained in their new tasks much faster. Uwe Bahr, head of information technology and organisation management at ASSMANN, is delighted with the system: "The change we initiated three years ago was intended to increase efficiency and performance. And we certainly managed that with pick-by-voice!"

Medea Voice by Zetes is a rapid deployment solution. The benefit: The system is intuitive, so it is largely self-explanatory and does not require a particular voice operator. Unlike many comparable systems, it is not necessary for each user working with the voice-controlled program to create an individual voice print. The employee simply puts on the headset and gets started.

ASSMANN used the transitional period to streamline company organisation and increase efficiency. This also involved reducing expensive warehouse inventories by tightening the lead times for individual jobs. Barely two years after introducing pick-by-voice, the investment has already paid off. "Productivity in the picking department has risen from 120 to 143 picks per hour," says Bahr, summing up.

It appears only logical that the picking department for metal and small components like hinges, handles and bases will soon be equipped with the voice-controlled program as well – "entirely in keeping with our strategy of continuous improvement," says Bahr. After all, increasing productivity makes an important contribution to optimising the company's competitiveness and to securing a bright future.

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