Why Retire Your RF Scanner

RF Scanner & PTL vs Voice Solutions

Voice solutions have an inherent advantage over pick-to-light (PTL) and RF scanning system technologies. Voice is a completely natural way to interact with a device which results in fewer errors across the entire selection process.

Studies show warehouse operators will key in the wrong numbers or hit the wrong function key but typically this same group of workers doesn’t speak incorrect information. Video analysis shows that selectors using pick to voice interact while they are working, whereas other systems such as RF scanning require the operator to stop working to interact with the device. Forklift operators can be safely moving while they are interacting with the voice device- something strongly discouraged when using an RF scanning system and impossible with a pick-to-light system.

Voice is inherently faster than RF scanning- speaking a check digit to confirm a location is faster than orienting the RF device, reading the information on the screen, and then scanning a barcode. Further, voice improves pick accuracy because every time an operator looks away from a pick location to view an RF scanner or any other screen, they can pick the wrong item. Voice picking allows the picker to keep their focus on the pick, items, and locations without being distracted by other devices or screens. Voice solutions support all warehouse operations and RF scanning systems can be incorporated if required for tasks such as scanning of long value strings as in the case of serial number collection.

Pick-to-light (PTL) systems are fast but to achieve efficiency they require densely packed pick faces with one picker per work zone. PTL systems are typically very rigid and don’t work well in businesses that have seasonality in the products they distribute or have a tendency to add new items regularly, with less than predictable item velocities. Unlike voice solutions and RF scanning systems which are mobile, when adding locations or sizing due to growing business needs or seasonality, PTL requires additional hardware, wiring, lighting, and maintenance. Further, pick-to-light systems have no means to handle exceptions, so manual intervention is necessary and they have no validation to verify that the correct product is being picked.

RF scanning systems often add verification steps to a process which may actually slow it down compared to paper-based systems, trading speed for accuracy. Since pick to voice systems are faster and more accurate than RF, most operations in a warehouse will see significant productivity and accuracy boosts over RF scanning. Voice systems enhance the speed element of PTL systems, adding the flexibility to size the picking area and personnel as business fluctuations dictate. Voice systems offer the desired accuracy of barcode scanning but without the constant distractions that are the cause of picking errors when operating RF devices.

Cost of Voice Picking vs. RF Scanning or PTL Systems

Cost of ownership is much lower with voice-directed workflow systems since there are fewer components to break and maintain. Because voice technologies do not require a screen, additional handling, constant keypunch, and data entry, they are more rugged and durable than RF scanning systems. Battery use between charges is also longer with voice solutions since they do not require a screen or backlight, allowing operators to easily work a full shift without a battery change, even when the voice system incorporates tasks that require RF scanning steps (an integrated scanner endcap is available).

PTL systems require significant real estate within the distribution center for implementation. This real estate is then dedicated to the PTL investment and is static so that changes- expansion or contraction- require a re-engineering project. Ongoing maintenance for wiring, lights, buttons etc. become an expense, often overlooked by those looking to invest in PTL. As business trends change along with order profiles and consumer demand, today’s distribution center needs to be flexible and nimble to handle the change with little to no impact to service levels. Voice picking provides the visibility and flexibility to meet these ever changing dynamics in real time, without the need for costly re-engineering.

 Voice  RF Scanning
Breakable Components X
Durability X
Battery Use Between Charges X

Why Retire Your RF Scanner