Voice in a Multicultural DC/Warehouse by ProQuest


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									cover story                                                                                        Warehouse Management

                                                                      their native-born counterparts to be employed in production,
                                                                      transportation and material-moving occupations (16.4 versus
                                                                      11.5 percent). This reality has enormous implications for the
                                                                      world of logistics, validating what most distribution center and
                                                                      logistics leaders have known for some time.
                                                                         Technology has come a long way in improving productivity
                                                                      and performance in the DC/warehouse. While there are many
                                                                      different types of technology applied, one solution in particular
                                                                      has a special niche to play in addressing this multi-language
                                                                      aspect of human beings working together – voice. This article will
                                                                      examine the merits of voice in the DC for supporting multiple
                                                                      native languages.

                                                                      Voice, Defined
                                                                         But first, what exactly is voice, and how does it work? In a
                                                                      voice-directed DC/warehouse, employee assignments are sent
                                                                      via Wi-Fi from a warehouse management system (WMS) to a
                                                                      lightweight, battery-powered computing device worn or held by
                                                                      the worker. Once received by the device, the work assignments
                                                                      are converted into a series of discrete verbal commands, which
                                                                      the worker hears through a headset. The instructions direct
                                                                      the employee to an aisle/section and slot location. Once there,
                                                                      the employee confirms he or she is at the proper location and
                                                                      completes the task by speaking into the headset. The worker’s
                                                                      words are recognized by the speech recognition software running
                                                                      on the device, which translates the spoken response into data
                                                                      and sends those data back to the WMS. The WMS issues the
                                                                      next assignment and the process repeats itself.

in a Multicultural
A sound solution for building
productivity and performance
By Tom Upshur

     oday’s distribution center (DC) and warehouse labor

T    landscape is infinitely different from that of previous
     generations. Nowhere is change more evident than in
the proliferation of different native languages being spoken
within an individual distribution center. With the continuing
globalization of business, multinational companies face a variety
of challenges in managing their supply chain across multiple
languages and countries.
  According to a March 2009 report from the U.S. Bureau of
Labor Statistics, in 2008, 24.1 million persons, or 15.6 percent of
the U.S. civilian labor force age 16 and over, were foreign-born.
The study found that foreign-born workers are more likely than

34 Supply & Demand Chain Executive August/September 2009
Warehouse Management                                                                                  cover story
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