By: Barry J. Ewell / Honeywell
Manual operations of machinery have been the common form of human-machine interaction (HMI). The emergence of faster processors, lower-cost memory, enhanced analytical techniques and embedded software continues to change fundamental industrial processes.
Per Gartner: By 2022, 35% of human-machine interfaces in manufacturing operations will be augmented with voice-enabled technologies, up from less than 5 % in 2018.
New capabilities have unlocked the opportunity to create ‘hands-free’ and ‘eyes-free’ functionality that can enhance user interaction and control and manage operations through the use of voice instructions and conversations. Voice-enabled technology can enhance manufacturing and logistics processes, such as pick-and-pass conveyor picking and wave picking, to either optimize the process or provide user-specific language communication that allows for a more diverse set of employees. We expect the functionality to create a safer work environment and opportunities for process optimization by verbally communicating directly with workers rather than the workers reading commands from a small display that may not be in their native language.1
Voice-directed warehousing and associated tasks such as voice-directed picking and packing have been around for at least two decades. These technologies have shown solid benefits in terms of efficiency, safety and convenience, and with continued falling prices in the technology, more voice-enabled solutions are becoming commonplace as part of warehouse management systems (WMS).
A Symphonic Blend of Leading-Edge Software and Hardware
Today, Honeywell Voice enables nearly one million mobile workers to increase their workforce productivity with the use of voice technology and best practice workflow process enhancements.
To use Honeywell’s integrated software-and-hardware voice solution, warehouse workers wear an ergonomically designed, lightweight, wireless computer on a belt, along with a headset. Workers hear verbal commands, and in response, communicate information back by speaking into the headset. The resulting data from the voice recognition system is transmitted from the wearable computer via the warehouse’s wireless network to a host computer application, such as a WMS or material handling and equipment (MHE) system.
With these voice commands and responses, workers stay focused on the job at hand, instead of glancing back and forth from product stock shelves to reading a small or low-light display screen, pick list or purchase order, keying data or scanning barcodes, or juggling both product and an input device.
When we think about a total solution, we are continually optimizing every aspect of our system to provide your DC with superior voice technology that benefits workers with intuitive and ergonomic wearable technology — and the DC operation with outstanding productivity and business value.
Honeywell Voice: Store It. Pick It. Pack It. Ship It.
With Honeywell Voice, that’s exactly what you can do. Built to perform, the “hands-free, eyes-free” system delivers benefits to billions of transactions every day in distribution centers around the world. It eliminates cumbersome paper lists, labels, handheld computers and scanners — making it a faster, more accurate and safer way to work. Together, Honeywell’s market-leading Talkman A700x wearable computer and integrated software suite cut operating costs by eliminating errors and improving worker productivity, shift after shift.
Where Can Voice Deliver Value in Your Warehouse?
- Case picking
- Piece picking
- Catch weights
- Cycle counting
- Line loading
- Leveraging your existing IT investments
Customers consistently report dramatic, measurable improvements across the warehouse, including:
- Accuracy established up to 99.99%
- Warehouse productivity increased by up to 35%
- Payback achieved in 12 months – or less
Workforce management improvements:
- Worker compensation claims reduced up to 50%
- Training time and turnover significantly reduced
- Labor management flexibility greatly enhanced
Not only does Honeywell Voice leverage your existing host application technology, but it also protects your IT investments by building on open-system architecture. Whether you rely on a major WMS solution, a legacy application developed in-house, a simple order management system, or highly automated MHE solution, Honeywell Voice can “speak” directly to your host application without any middleware, or employ one of our existing direct interfaces written for many leading systems.
Honeywell provides its integrated solution in an open computing environment, protecting your investment by providing a seamless transition to next-generation standards. What’s more, we build our application software and tools on industry standards.
Hardware Designed for the Mobile Worker
Understanding environmental factors is critical when designing hardware. For example, the variability of background noise is an issue in manufacturing and logistics because some applications, such as line replenishing, require the end user to move through the facility. Continuing enhancements in noise-canceling technologies and directional microphones are required to ensure first-time recognition of the spoken response or command.
Another issue is device connectivity. Whether the voice-enabled device is mobile or fixed in a single location, network connectivity from the edge-tier device to the platform-tier application is important. At Honeywell, we take into account these and hundreds of other data points when developing, improving and delivering hardware as part of Honeywell Voice.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the exciting improvements in our hardware by looking at the A700x and SRX series headsets.
The A700x is the newest wearable voice terminal that is very robust, yet easy to operate. On its outside, the body looks similar to its predecessor, the A700. But on its inside, Honeywell has taken advantage of the recent availability of advanced software, machine learning, new sensors and powerful processors offered by Qualcomm® to provide additional features atypical of previous voice products, including:
- A new speaker-independent recognition engine allows workers to start using the A700x immediately — particularly important when employing temporary staff
- Advanced predictive maintenance and troubleshooting built in with Honeywell Sentience 2.0 Cloud, and sensors for temperature, height, drops and falls, etc.
- Intelligent analytics for evaluating operator performance metrics in real time
- Battery life to extend beyond a shift to 12+ hours
- Inclusion of many time-saving features, including TouchConnect™, TouchConfig™, RapidStart™ and other features designed for faster start-up times
The Honeywell A700x series includes:
- A730x – A first-of-its-kind mobile device combining voice and occasional scanning; ideal for applications such as tote or purchase order induction
- A720x – With two industrial-grade breakaway TCO connectors, identical to those used on prior Vocollect voice devices, which support wired headsets, scanners and printers; ideal for using either wired or wireless headsets and peripherals
- A710x – A wireless-only device supporting headsets, scanners and printers; ideal for vehicle-mounted applications
All of the devices in the A700x series support simultaneous use of Bluetooth®-enabled headsets, scanners and printers. They all also support vehicle-mounted configurations, which significantly reduce device handling, damage, start-up time and battery purchase needs.
Our A700x series devices also fully support existing software implementations, which makes updating to this new platform extremely easy and cost-effective.
All devices offer a choice of two battery options as well as a vehicle-mounted power option. A new standard battery is projected to provide 8–10-hour shift coverage, while an extended-life battery is projected to last a second shift. Use of the vehicle-mounted option eliminates the work stoppage associated with start-up time or battery changes.
The SRX series headset provides superior speech recognition with SoundSense™ technology. It’s embedded with a multi-microphone array that reduces unwanted word and sound insertions by more than 50% compared to other headsets used in high-noise environments. Other key features include:
- Uses high-fidelity acoustic sampling for higher audio clarity
- Advanced speech recognition protocol ensures zero loss of speech and audio information, thus providing the highest levels of accuracy and worker performance
- Enables shared use of electronics while preserving individual worker hygiene through the use of individual headbands
- Reduces both the upfront cost and the ongoing cost of ownership
- High operating performance capabilities with flexible components for reduced investment options
- Most comfortable and ergonomically refined for improved worker comfort, satisfaction and safety
- Designed and certified to operate in every high-noise environment, from dry to cool to freezer
- Features great battery performance that lasts up to 10 hours in freezing temperatures
Honeywell Voice Is a Complete Solution With Proven Benefits
Honeywell Voice is a fully integrated system with rugged, yet ergonomic hardware that’s built to last, and allows you to maximize and leverage existing technology investments. More than technology in a box, it’s a complete program that helps you tap into the efficiency advantages of voice-directed workflows quickly and easily — without disruption to your daily operations.
Its proven benefits include:
Accuracy. Reduce errors by providing a hands-free, eyes-up technology that keeps workers focused on the task at hand. No longer will they be distracted by looking at a screen or a piece of paper to know where to go or what to pick next. The worker is directed via voice through the entire process, allowing them to be more alert and aware while performing any number of tasks.
Productivity. Workers are more focused on the task they’re performing; they’re being directed by a voice without having to stop or pause to look at a screen or a piece of paper. This makes the worker more fluid in his/her movements and able to move more efficiently throughout their day. Fewer steps to complete tasks throughout the day — less fumbling or struggling with other forms of information — reduces lost time, leading to faster warehouse throughput.
Secondary Financial Benefits
Labor efficiency. The use of voice and the subsequent increase in overall worker productivity lead to additional savings, including: reduction in overtime; the need for fewer inspectors to check order accuracy; less reliance on temporary or seasonal staff; and the ability to cross-train employees to perform more voice-directed tasks.
Safety. The hands-free and eyes-up nature of voice creates a more alert and aware workforce, helping to decrease the chance for injury. This also leads to less damage and breakage, which can ultimately lead to other incidents or injuries.
Regulatory. Achieve cost-effective compliance using voice for real-time material tracking and traceability, and to comply with evolving governmental regulations without burdensome processes or cost.
Our expert assessment teams will partner with you to understand your unique business requirements and identify where opportunities exist to optimize your workflows and increase efficiencies within today’s competitive climate.
At Honeywell, we work with thousands of distribution centers of all sizes, across a wide variety of industries worldwide. We bring a deep foundational understanding of the businesses we serve, backed with expert research and data that identifies the real, specific needs of today’s DCs.
With over 130 years of on-the-ground experience, Honeywell is uniquely equipped to help you solve the problems that your business faces every day, see improved results, and be a trusted partner to help you reach and exceed your predetermined goals.
1 Gartner. Emerging Technology Analysis: Build Voice-Enabled Technologies Into Manufacturing and Supply Chain Processes. Emil Berthelsen & Tim Zimmerman. Published April 30, 2018.