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Honeywell’s innovative voice technology solutions help companies with mobile workers run more productive and efficient business, mainly in facilities management
Speaking exclusively with Technical Review Middle East, Chris Heslop, head of marketing, EMEA, for Honeywell Workflow Solutions, said that Honeywell Vocollect Solutions are used by almost one million workers around the world. They are mostly deployed within the four walls of the warehouse for all operational processes, including put-away, replenishment, order picking and packing. The solutions are available in over 35 languages, including Arabic. In addition to this, Honeywell Vocollect Solutions are being deployed for maintenance and inspection purposes in the aerospace and automotive industries.
Technical Review Middle East (TRME): How is Vocollect benefitting your customers?
Chris Heslop (CH): The benefits to customers can usually be seen within a very short timeframe. Warehouse customers can expect to see up to a 35 per cent increase in worker productivity, a reduction of 25 per cent in typical training times and up to 99.99 per cent picking accuracy rates – all allowing companies to deliver higher service levels to their own customers. Many users have been able to totally eliminate their auditing process such is the level of accuracy, leading to even greater ROI, which most customers typically see in under 12 months. Other benefits include greater visibility of worker progress. From a central management console, the warehouse manager can see which workers are ahead of schedule and, if necessary move them to other areas of the warehouse to boost operations if required.
Vocollect technology can be paired with the Honeywell Operational Acuity Solution to provide intelligent data analysis from the warehouse – enabling managers to continually refine and improve operations.
In addition, the Honeywell Vocollect Maintenance and Inspection Solution allows workers to carry out voice-directed vehicle inspections and report directly to the voice system , eliminating the lengthy task of writing up reports post-inspection, thus significantly increasing efficiency. With a voice-directed, hands-free inspection process, workers eliminate skipped steps, make fewer errors and are more productive. Customers for this technology include Lufthansa Technik and Honeywell’s own aerospace division.
TRME: What is your strategy to penetrate the Middle Eastern market?
CH: Honeywell has been in the Middle East for over 60 years, providing a range of innovative technologies to support everything from climate control to smart buildings, connected airports, the oil and gas sector and numerous other industries. We now see it as a significant region for our workflow solutions technologies. To this end, we now have put specialised sales and pre-sales team in place to increase awareness of the many benefits this technology brings. We have also signed with leading regional reseller partners to help us deliver our solutions to the Middle East market.
TRME: Why should people choose your product over competitors? Who are your competitors?
CH: Honeywell Vocollect solutions offer established proof-points of sub-12 month return on investment due to typical increases in productivity, achieved in part due to its Vocollect’s Blue-Streak voice recognition technology – a trained voice recogniser. This means that the worker is required to spend a one-off period of about 20 minutes reading a series of key words to enable the system to recognise their particular voice and pronunciation, resulting in much less need for repetition of confirmations. This is something many of our voice competitors do not offer.
That said, much of our competition is indeed alternative technologies, or even pen and paper. Lack of awareness of voice technology or common misperception that voice is only suitable for very large companies can also prove a barrier to the adoption of our technology.
TRME: What’s the price point and how does this compare to other similar products in the market?
CH: Our technology is a bespoke rather than a commoditised solution. This tailored nature of our solution means that it is based on the specific needs of each customer to help them overcome the operational business challenges they were facing. As such return on investment is typically achieved in less than 12 months. We sell through a channel model in the region, and our reseller partners often provide additional services through their own middleware technology.
TRME: Do you have any statistics on how much time this product is saving customers?
CH: Each action made by a warehouse operator saves a couple of seconds – this doesn’t sound like much, but think how many actions are made each day by an operator, multiply that by five days a week – and by the number of workers in a team. It goes without saying that the greatest return on investment is gained by warehouse operators with multiple concurrent small item picking. For example, Kruitbosch, a Dutch bicycle and bicycle spare parts manufacturer, can now pick up to 16 concurrent orders (to be sent direct to customer), compared to four concurrent picks pre-Vocollect voice implementation.
A range of global customers, including Sony, eBay Enterprise and Fox Racing, use Honeywell Vocollect Solutions in their operations.