Exploring the Latest Trends and Solutions in Voice Picking Technologies

Posted by Advanced Mobile Group on Aug 4, 2023 8:00:00 AM

Over the past several decades, there has been a strong shift toward voice-recognition technology. In other words, instead of typing a command on a keyboard, people have become more accustomed to using voice-to-text solutions and voice-activated assistants like Google Home or Alexa. But what about in the warehouse?

Interestingly, voice technology has been used in warehouses and distribution centers for years. Specifically, voice picking solutions are incredibly useful for optimizing key inventory and fulfillment processes. Here’s what you need to know about voice picking and the latest trends in these solutions. 

What is Pick by Voice Technology?

Voice picking is an eyes-free and hands-free system using a combination of speech recognition software and an intelligent voice agent to direct an associate through work tasks. Most pick-by-voice solutions work in the following way:

  • ERP and WMS Integration — Voice picking software solutions integrate with a warehouse’s ERP or WMS to receive order information and data about picking locations. 
  • Associate Setup — Workers in the picking department wear headsets equipped with industrial microphones that connect wirelessly to the system running the application. 
  • Work Assignment Creation — The voice application uses provided data to create tasks or work assignments that it distributes to individual pickers. 
  • Work Assignment Receipt — Each worker receives their assignment through the headset with a dialogue to ensure they understand the directions. 
  • Voice Guidance — There is detailed voice guidance, telling the picker where to go inside the warehouse to find the items and how many to “pick.”
  • Confirmation of Work — Once a task is completed, the worker verbally confirms this using the microphone. 
  • Data Collection & Reporting — The system records data in real-time and updates connected systems, which allows for detailed reporting. 

The Evolution of Voice Picking Solutions

Pick by voice technology isn’t new. It’s been around since the 1990s when more costly and somewhat clunky tools were used to improve manual tasks. Those early applications had to work hard to get around the limitations of speech recognition technology. Since then, developers have invested significant time and resources into creating a near-perfect recognition that adapts to the noisy and harsh conditions you’ll find in warehouses and distribution centers. 

Applications for Warehouse Voice Picking Solutions

There’s a common misconception that pick by voice technology only works well for product picking applications. In truth, it can be applied to many different processes within a warehouse or distribution center.


  • Piece Picking — Most warehouses use this technology for piece picking, which involves employees picking individual items from shelves, conveyors, or pallets during the order fulfillment process. 
  • Receiving — Voice solutions can also be used to direct employees during the receiving process, including staging and sorting pallets or boxes coming into the warehouse.  
  • Putaway — Voice direction can be used for putaway activities to ensure inventory is stored properly. 
  • Case/Pallet Picking — Voice solutions can direct employees during case and pallet picking processes to improve warehouse efficiency. 
  • Truck Loading & Shipping — Some warehouses are using voice solutions to direct the truck loading and outbound shipping processes. 
  • Returns — When items come back into the warehouse through reverse logistics, voice can be used to verify receipt, inspect items, and sort them for their next stop. 
  • QC/Audit — Voice direction can be used in the warehouse for quality control and audit functions. 

Advantages of Using Pick by Voice Solutions

Compared to traditional order picking processes using barcodes, paper lists, and clipboards, pick by voice systems create a hands-free workflow. Instead of stopping to read, scan, record, or perform other manual tasks, workers can listen and speak into their headsets. Some of the benefits of using these solutions include:

  • Complex-Order-Fulfillment-Simplified-with-Voice-Collection-1Improved Productivity — Depending on your applications, productivity gains can increase to over 100% with voice picking solutions. 
  • Reduced Errors — Because you’re ditching the paper and allowing workers to focus on their tasks, this can significantly reduce picking errors. 
  • Better Safety — The ability of employees to work hands-free means they are more aware of their surroundings and less likely to become injured in an accident. 
  • Faster Training Time — Because voice picking solutions are simple and intuitive to use, new employees can get up to speed with the system quickly. 

Latest Trends and Solutions in Voice Picking Technologies

The global voice picking technology market was valued at $1.19 billion USD in 2018, a figure that is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.7% through 2025. Big tech company like Microsoft, Apple, and Google has continued to invest in voice recognition software, and the industrial uses for these solutions continue to expand. Some of the latest trends in this space include:

  • Integration Points — Voice solutions now integrate with a variety of other systems like mobile robots, conveyor control, and warehouse management systems (WMS). This type of integration opens up more opportunities for innovation and efficiency gains. 
  • Worker Execution Capabilities — Improved voice recognition technology means that there are more and more uses for these solutions within the warehouse. Instead of simply using voice solutions for picking, they can also be used for cycle counting, packing, freight loading, machine repair, and to fill other gaps in the workplace. 
  • Labor Savings — Many warehouses continue to struggle with labor issues. Because voice-directed solutions reduce selection time, fewer labor hours are required to accomplish the same tasks. Also, some voice-directed work is being combined with robotics, like automated pickers, which makes these positions more efficient and attractive to potential employees. 

Innovation is revolutionizing the picking technology landscape as warehouses and distribution centers have ever-increasing needs. Wearable products and more intuitive solutions are making workers more efficient, improving safety, and cutting costs for organizations. This is only the beginning for a technology with so much potential. 

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Topics: Warehouse Managment, Voice Technology, Technology Trends, Automation

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