The old guard might’ve done everything with pen and paper, however we live in the digital age. So, with such advanced systems, platforms and solutions at our disposal, why are we still burning through thousands of trees to perform run-of-the-mill warehousing processes?
Waste not, want not
Deforestation has a direct impact on global warming. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2020 Annual Climate Report found that the combined land and ocean temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.13 degrees Fahrenheit (0.08 degrees Celsius) per decade since 1880; however, the average rate of increase since 1981 (0.18°C / 0.32°F) has been more than twice that rate.
If this is the case, why are 46% of distribution centers (warehouses) still using paper for picking? This heavy reliance on paper boggles the mind given that more than 80% of citizens in Western Europe and nearly 50% of the planet own a smartphone or use the internet at least occasionally.
Let’s talk numbers for a minute. With a presence spanning more than 58 countries and 1.2 billion people, Amazon, the largest e-commerce retailer in the world, ships approximately 1.6 million packages per day. For our purposes, let’s say that your organization receives 1,000 orders per day. That translates to around 375,000 orders per year. One single or batch order would typically use at least one piece of paper. It’s estimated that the average paper-yielding tree can produce, on average, 15,000 sheets of paper. At one page per order that translates to 25 trees per year used on the picking process alone!
There is a way to cut back
Investopedia defines corporate social responsibility (also known as corporate citizenship) as companies being “conscious of the kind of impact they are having on all aspects of society, including economic, social, and environmental.” It’s the idea that businesses are responsible for the company’s effects on environmental and social well-being, and it’s nothing new. For decades, consumers and governmental bodies have been pushing corporations to take responsibility for their actions, asking them to clean up their pollution and waste disposal procedures.
Until recently, the focus of many social responsibility programs has been on manufacturing and not on warehousing. Now, as companies seek to expand these policies company wide, warehouses are expected to follow suit. With pick lists and bar codes that need to be printed, it can be hard to cut back on waste. Luckily, a voice-integrated solution could be your first step to answer to sustainability issues in the warehouse.
With voice, the need for physical pick lists is completely removed as workers receive verbal instructions from a headset. Rather than referring to a list and moving through the warehouse, the voice software will guide your worker on the optimal path through the warehouse, verifying their location and pick amounts as they go. This not only removes paper entirely from the process, but also allows them to move more quickly and accurately through their picking process.
Other than being good for the environment, why else should I use voice in the warehouse?
There are five main benefits to implementing voice-integrated solutions that a good corporate citizen should care about:
- Low-cost investment – the only devices voice requires are headsets and portable radios. The silver lining? Both devices operate on long-life rechargeable batteries.
- Better for the employees – a hands-free, eye-free picking and navigation process leads to increased accuracy, productivity, safety and worker satisfaction.
- Better for the bottom line – by going verbal, your organization saves a bundle on paper and ink costs, and cuts down on training time, too.
- Better for the planet – by removing the need to print, you can take the environmental impact that both paper and ink have out of the equation.
- More storage space – all that paper has to be stored somewhere – imagine having to store 25 trees worth of paper, every year for multiple years! With voice that need is eliminated, and that extra space can go to expanding your production lines or storage capacity. Don’t need the space? Consider leasing it out to companies that do. With spikes in demand for certain products, companies are scrambling for more warehouse space and are looking for outside-the-box storage solutions.
So, by going the route of voice you’ll not only be having a positive impact on profitability – you’ll also be walking the talk as a responsible corporate citizen. As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. Companies such as Patterson Logistics, a distributor of dental and veterinary products and equipment have seen significant cost and time savings by incorporating eco-friendly voice solutions.
It’s our responsibility to be good stewards of our planet’s health and resources while doing right by our customers and stakeholders. A voice-integrated solution for your warehouse or distribution center serves as a win-win by helping your profitability and the environment.
So, if you’re ready to learn more about integrating voice technology with your warehouse operations, visit here.