Sunday, May 23, 2010


What it is

Pick by Voice is a language based picking system. It is possible to pick without invoices or bills of order because the picker gets all the important data by voice response. The picker also has the possibility to communicate with the help of voice entry.

In warehouses where long distances have to be covered or when picking goods that have to be picked up with both hands, it is advantageous if the picker has his hands free and does not have to carry a pick list around.
The pickers have their hands and eyes free for their work. Earphones and microphone replace the classical terminal. Thanks to the increased freedom of action, the order picking process becomes more efficient.
When using pick by voice keyboard entries, watching the display and reading the list are all steps that are superfluous. The operator can concentrate entirely on his job.

If you want to learn more about what pick-by-voice is check out:

How it works

The picker receives his working instructions acustically by his transportable computer (client) via headset. The feedback to the host also takes place with the help of speaking. The data is being transmitted by radio.
In order to reach a high picking quality error checking numbers are used. As soon as the picker reaches the storage area he sais the last numbers of the number assigned to this storage area or of the product-boung barcodes. The system then verifies the accuracy and gives an immediate feedback signal.

The average vocabulary that can be used for pick-by-voice usually is about 100 to 1000 words.

This video is especially for the German students in this course because it shows how the company Schäfer uses pick by voice and therefore the picking is done in German.
But since the explanations are all in English of course everyone can watch it.

To be fair, this video is especially for the Spanish logistics class attendants since this video is in spanish. Still, there are Spanish subtitles so it is also perfect for the foreigners to learn some logistic terms. :)


  • Speach as natural way of communicating
  • paperless picking
  • free hands when picking (no buttons to press)
  • free eyes for simultaneous activities
  • an innovative system that is accessible on the market
  • price level is going to decrease over the next years
  • no installations on the shelf are necessary
  • wide area of application
  • different activities can be done simultaneously (f. ex. Confirmation when walking to the next shelf)
  • very low picking-error rate ca. 0,1%
  • short training period necessary to be able to use the system
  • better concentration of the picker
  • faster, saving in time


  • only small amounts of data can be transmitted
  • only sequential issuing of orders and the waiting time that results from this
  • limitation on the preparation of orders, single goods can’t be identified
  • the possibility to scan barcodes doesn’t exist
  • additional processing power is needed for the speech processing
  • elevated protection from environmental influences is necessary
  • after long working hours it is tiring for the employees
  • problems when using it the first times (the artificial voice is wired at the beginning and at first there might be problems of identification)
  • hardly any communication between the different employees possible

Some of these advantages and disadvantages, as well as a lot more information about picking in general can be found on this German website from the Technical University of Munich.

In this video the members of the company PEPBOYS explain why the company has changed from pick by light to pick by voice system. This way a lot of advantages and disadvantages of pick by voice and pick by light can be seen.
This video is in English with Spanish subtitles.


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