Defense Logistics Agency to Test Vangard Voice in Warehouse Operations

Under a one-year contract awarded earlier this month, Vangard Voice Systems will work with Psion Teklogix and McLane Advanced Technologies to create a prototype voice-based solution for U.S. military distribution centers worldwide.

The three firms will work together to create a solution to help the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) manage warehouse operations in 25 distribution depots worldwide that handle nearly 5 million items for the U.S. military and other federal agencies. The contract award, valued at just slightly more than $230,000, requires McLane, Vangard, and Psion Teklogix to deliver a voice solution prototype that provides hands-free, voice-activated capabilities for three existing warehouse management processes, while avoiding changes to DLA's existing Distribution Standard System network or warehouse applications. The three warehousing processes are order picking, stowing, and inventory control. The prototype will be tested in DLA’s depot in Susquehanna, Pa.

The project will incorporate Vangard’s AccuSpeech Mobile Voice Platform (MVP), which adds voice-directed capabilities to existing client-server, Web/HTML, and Windows Mobile-based applications. The solution will reside on Psion Teklogix’s Ikon mobile computers. McLane, which provides value-added logistics and information technology services and products for government and commercial operations, will provide help-desk and onsite support for the voice solution prototype.

Dan Villanueva, Vangard’s vice president of marketing, expects to have the prototype ready for testing in about a month. “We hope to be finished with development and have the application voice-enabled and on the warehouse floor in December,” he says. “DLA will then begin testing, and will have the option to purchase additional software and hardware and to add additional workers to get additional test metrics.”

According to Villanueva, DLA put out the request for proposals in early September, and Vangard ultimately won the contract because it is the only voice vendor whose applications do not need to reside on the warehouse operators' own servers. That, he says, is where the warehousing industry as a whole is heading. "It also had to be portable to the Web because DLA has a Web migration strategy," he says.

“We’re adding value to [DLA's] existing architecture without having to change it,” he adds. “With the ability to voice-enable it with a client-resident solution, we are able to add the value of voice without the risk, integration, and maintenance concerns.”

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