Monday, May 20, 2013

MMH Reports "Automation: Voice or WMS"

Why Are Some End Users Turning to Voice Rather Than Upgrade Their Legacy WMS for New Functionality?

That's the question posed by Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling, in his May 17, 2013 article "Automation: Voice or WMS." His article indicates that "rightly or wrongly, companies view a WMS implementation as risky, costly and painful. It’s one of the reasons most companies keep their WMS in place for a decade or longer, even when that system is no longer meeting all of a company’s needs."

Trebilcock referenced survey questions posed to companies by Ian Hobkirk, managing director of Commonwealth Supply Chain Advisors. Hobkirk "noticed a trend among clients that are implementing workarounds to extend the life of a legacy WMS."  Hobkirk says. “Each has a legacy WMS that isn’t very flexible. They would rather install a workaround than upgrade their WMS.”

In addition to creating workaround code for the existing WMS, Hobkirk adds, “many companies are deploying voice to achieve functionality that is going to be too hard to get through the WMS alone..."

Unfortunitely, for many warehouse professionals, adding voice is a two-edged sword due to the costs and complexity of integrating a server-based proprietary picking system to their existing WMS. Supply Chain Insights  2013 Power of Voice Research Report, reports the Top Three Reasons why distribution professionals avoid voice technology  are 1) “too expensive” ; 2) [as a result] ‘too many competing priorities”, and; 3) “hard to integrate with other systems.

Innovation in voice technology has eliminate this 'Rock and a Hard Place" senario for the WMS market. Mobile innovation means voice placed solely on the mobile device avoids completely the high risk and fear associated with traditional server-based integration.

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