We sat down with Glen Theiss, Sales Director for Vitech, to get a glimpse into what the future holds for voice and SAP. Theiss has worked with Vitech for 7 years, spearheading most of the nearly 20 implementations Vitech has completed into SAP sites.
To start, what is voice for the warehouse?
“Voice for the warehouse is an alternative to paper and RF driven workflows that allows workers to get their instructions through a headset rather than from a pick list or a screen. It is a proven technology that has allowed companies to improve productivity, increase accuracy and reduce training time while streamlining warehouse processes.”
Why do you think voice has become so popular with SAP users?
“Historically, creating communication between SAP and voice systems has been cumbersome, but new tools have been created to more easily enable this process, reducing the timeline of implementation and project risk. On top of the technical capabilities, there has been a tangible shift in the industry of warehouses having to deliver more with less. Voice enables warehouses to reach efficiency levels that were rarely attainable before, and has a host of long-term benefits like warehouse safety, training time decreases, and worker satisfaction.”
What about voice makes it such a good fit for SAP?
“The hands-free, eyes-free nature of voice technology means workers don’t have to learn data input technology like function keys on an RF device. Instead, they can simply use a communication tool that they feel comfortable with- speech. The voice system takes the speech inputs and sends live updates back into SAP, so you have real time information on what is happening on the warehouse floor."
What should SAP users know when considering voice?
“There are several different voice technologies available in today’s marketplace, and more preconceived notions about voice than ever before. Many misconceptions stem from the idea that all voice systems are the same, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The Vocollect Voice solution Vitech implements was built specifically for loud industrial environments, and its deployment in the warehouse environment for a quarter century has proven it to be a robust solution. Vocollect also provides a native integration into the SAP landscape, so you will have a solution made to work for your warehouse."
What kind of results can SAP users expect with voice?
“Most SAP customers initially focus on picking as a voice-enabled workflow, as that is where a majority of labor costs are in a warehouse. For picking it is common to see up to a 25% increase in productivity, a 50% reduction in errors, and a reduction in training time up to 80%. When using voice for other workflows like put-away, replenishment, cycle counting, or even inspection applications, productivity increases can range from 20-40%, plus the benefit of significant accuracy increases as well.”
What do you see as the future of voice for SAP?
“Right now, voice is most commonly associated with picking workflows. But as voice becomes more common in the SAP landscape, I think we will see the use of voice expand beyond picking. SAP offers unique opportunities to do some really interesting things with voice, like a current customer project where we are voice-enabling packing stations. I believe in the next 5 years you will see most large SAP warehouses running multiple workflows with voice, reducing or removing the need for paper or RF scanning altogether.”
What kind of experience does Vitech have with SAP?
“Vitech deployed the first ever SAP certified direct interface to eWM in North America with Patterson Companies. Since that time, Vitech has deployed voice into roughly 20 SAP WM and eWM sites, and has more SAP implementations in North America than any other Vocollect partner.”
Tell us about one of your favorite/recent/successful projects you’ve been involved in.
“The SAP integration at Patterson Companies stands out as one of the most successful voice implementations we’ve ever completed. When the project began, Patterson had been struggling with paper picking and lengthy training times. After implementing voice, it was like an entirely different operation. Productivity was up 25%, they were able to train workers in one pass through the building (down from days previously), and a handful of checking procedures were eliminated because voice was so accurate. It was truly a remarkable project to be a part of.”
Voice for SAP offers a great opportunity to elevate your warehouse to a higher level of operational efficiency. To learn more about voice for SAP, you can download our new eBook, Voice-enabling your SAP warehouse, here.