March 5, 2019

HighJump sees voice-directed work as key to DC automation

Software firm continues building alliances with other tech providers owned by German parent Korber AG.

By Ben Ames

Supply chain technology vendor HighJump Software Inc. is continuing to emphasize voice-directed work platforms as a key enabling technology for warehouse automation and meeting rising consumer demands for e-commerce services, the company said today.

Voice-based picking may not be a cutting edge technology, but it offers a proven platform that can drive 10 to 15 percent improvements in warehouse productivity—a significant jump in a tight-margin business where managers are always on the lookouts for the slightest improvements—HighJump CEO Chad Collins said in remarks at the firm's Elevate user conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Encouraged by such results, users have been broadening their use of voice-based workflows from their traditional application in piece-picking to additional uses like safety, inspection, and maintenance, he said.

HighJump's focus on voice-direction operations is also part of the company's rolling effort to continue integrating its technology portfolio with that of its new corporate parent, the German logistics technology provider Korber AG, which purchased HighJump in 2017 from the private equity firm Accell-KKR.

That move was intended to expand Korber's capabilities as an enterprise software vendor and expand its U.S. footprint, while also giving Minneapolis-based HighJump an opportunity to address overseas markets. The acquisition also raised new challenges, however, requiring HighJump to integrate its software with many new siblings under the Korber umbrella, such as product solution providers Langhammer and Riantics, systems integrators Aberle and Consoveyo, and software vendors Cirrus, DMLogic, Inconso, and Voiteq.

In remarks at the user conference, Collins said the company has been making progress toward that goal by delivering software that is increasingly cloud-based—primarily through Oracle Corp.'s cloud platform—and built around application programming interfaces (APIs), the architecture that allows software platforms to communicate directly with each other instead of relying on third-party links.

HighJump's focus on voice-directed operations also echoes that trend, building on Korber's move in recent months to buy and merge two voice-tech providers, Vitech Business Group Inc. and Centriq Group's Voiteq.

Also in 2018, HighJump launched a warehouse control system (WCS) that provides a single point of communication among material handling equipment (MHE), warehouse management system (WMS), and WCS software, allowing users to deploy automation technologies—such as autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) from Locus Robotics and Magazino—while gaining real-time visibility in the DC.

Together, those moves have helped HighJump record 2018 growth markers including hiring 85 people to bring its rolls to 450 employees, and adding 320 new customers including 71 percent that chose cloud-based software installation over the on-premise model, the firm said.

About the Author

Ben Ames
Senior Editor
Ben Ames has spent 20 years as a journalist since starting out as a daily newspaper reporter in Pennsylvania in 1995. From 1999 forward, he has focused on business and technology reporting for a number of trade journals, beginning when he joined Design News and Modern Materials Handling magazines. Ames is author of the trail guide "Hiking Massachusetts" and is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.

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