Due to the e-commerce boom, distribution centers are struggling to keep pace with expectations for faster and more accurate deliveries. According to a survey by Honeywell and YouGov, nearly nine in 10 distribution center operators are expecting to adopt new mobile devices and voice-direction technology in the next five years to meet that demand.
The survey of hundreds of IT decision makers across the USA, UK, France and Germany shows that mobile solutions are expected to increase in adoption over the next five years, driven by the need for increased order fulfillment accuracy and improved customer service requests.
Distribution centers lose more than US$400,000 on average every year on picking errors, and as such they are looking for a technological edge to improve accuracy and reduce costs. The technologies include mobile computers, printers and scanners that feature more reliable data capture technology, as well as equipping workers with wireless headsets that provide voice direction to improve accuracy and speed.
Honeywell’s survey revealed that nearly two-thirds of distribution centers currently support omnichannel distribution, meaning they have the data capture and asset tracking systems required to fulfill orders both from retailers and from consumers purchasing on-line. An average of 84% of IT decision-makers asked agreed that data capture technology had made a positive impact on their omnichannel distribution strategy.
According to the survey, voice direction using wireless headsets to direct workers with voice commands can add one hour of productive time per worker each month. The majority of respondents anticipated transitioning to voice solutions within the next five years, including 94% in Germany, 87% in the USA, 82% in the UK and 78% in France. Nearly 25% of distribution center workers around the world do not speak the local language, requiring a need for technology solutions that support multiple languages and facilitate rapid onboarding and training of new workers.
The survey findings report that the average global cost of one picking error is US$59, resulting in distribution centers losing on average more than $400,000 annually on mispicks. IT decision-makers said that the cost of a mispick in the US ranks highest (US$67), followed by France (US$60), Germany (US$52), and the UK (US$50).
October 20, 2015