Morrisons is to install one of the largest voice picking systems in the world, in a deal worth more than £6m.

The grocer is working with supply chain technology provider Zetes to provide its 3iV voice software and more than 2,000 Vocollect Talkman voice computers, which will be used by thousands of warehouse staff at Morrisons’ distribution centres.

A pilot site is already live with the technology and Morrisons will now continue the implementation in phases, with completion due during 2010.

Users of the system wear a small computer that gives them instructions for which items they should be picking within the distribution centre and lets them confirm when tasks are complete using vocal responses.

The pilot ran at Morrisons’ Corby freezer distribution centre for three months and demonstrated improved accuracy, easier task allocation, the ability to support multi-lingual pickers and that the system could handle freezer environments.

Once the system is running company-wide, Morrisons plans to improve the quality of its real-time business information and enhance the reporting capability of its legacy and Oracle warehouse management systems.

Zetes managing director for UK and Ireland James Hannay said that Morrisons could expect to get a return on investment from the introduction of the technology across its distribution network in months rather than years. He added that the system will help Morrisons to maintain a competitive advantage and continue outperforming its competitors during the downturn.

Morrisons IT director Gary Barr said the company is confident that the system will meet its requirements and wants to implement it quickly.