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How Two Way Radios Create a Safer Manufacturing Environment

By Ben Burns April 20, 2020

There is no doubt that titanic shifts taking place in the $2.17 trillion behemoth industry called Manufacturing. Politics and pandemics aside, one of the major changes directly affecting the United States Manufacturing industry is technology. Early forays into Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), and Robotics Process Automation (RPA) are just the tip of the iceberg. Other technological advances like Configure Price Quote software and Direct to Consumer (D2C) marketing will be at the tip of everyone’s tongues in no time. However, despite these gargantuan leaps in technological overhauls, there is still one important manufacturing tool that technology can never replace: the two-way radio. In fact, more and more manufacturing professionals are incorporating two-way radio technology into their operations because radios continue to improve both productivity and safety throughout every phase of today’s manufacturing processing.

Discount Two-Way Radio Featured in Manufacturing Outlook Magazine

Manufacturing Magazine Article Recently, Discount Two-Way Radio was asked to contribute an article on how two-way radios create a safer, more productive, and efficient manufacturing work environment. You can read the article here.

The Evolution of Two-Way Radios

Two-way radios have evolved significantly over the past 100 years but continue to be an indispensable tool for today’s manufacturing industry. From resolving plant-floor problems like a shortage of material on a production line to sudden changes in warehouse operations and transportation yards where gate assignments need to be switched on the fly, reliable two-way radio coverage is critical to maintain operational efficiency and being better prepared to respond rapidly to the unexpected.

Digital Revolution

Most of today’s professional grade two-way radios use digital technology rather than analog. Digital circuitry opens up a much more robust collection of features that can be very valuable to the manufacturing industry. One of these features is the built-in digital algorithm that can automatically differentiate the human voice and background noise allowing it to cancel undesirable background noise for clearer, cleaner sound quality.

Another evolution in two-way radio equipment is that they can incorporate software applications that can integrate into existing computer networks and phone systems. As a result, digital two-way radios have the potential for incorporating a multitude of additional functions, including GPS, text messaging, and other forms of communication technologies and information sharing applications.

Core Benefits of Two-Way Radio Technology for Manufacturing Industry

Important Two-Way Radio Features That Help Improve the Manufacturing Environment

However, there are some very specific advantages of incorporating high-quality radios into any manufacturing environment, including:

Safety – Accidents can happen when communication fails. A misunderstanding in instructions; a delay in reporting a hazardous situation; a call for assistance that fails to connect can all add up to trouble.

Without professional communication tools, accidents can happen just because someone misunderstands an instruction. Two-way radios provide crystal clear audio in noisy manufacturing environments and can be equipped with hands free accessories and emergency features. Think about how noisy a plant can get, where shouted instructions get lost in the sound of machinery. Quality two-way radios, especially when equipped with headphones, can make the difference between the safe completion of a task and a dangerous accident.

Safety During the Historic COVID-19 Pandemic

How to Sanitize Your Two-Way Radios Finally, in the age of deadly and highly contagious corona viruses, two-way radios also help create personal separation among factory workers while never losing the ability to instantly communicate through "Push To Talk" technology. Make sure you read our safety guide on how to keep your two-way radios sanitized.

Efficiency – Two-way radios are the perfect tool for maximizing efficiency in any manufacturing setting. In fact, studies have found that two-way radios are so effective for manufacturing facilities that the equipment pays for itself in just a couple of months because of the amount of time they save. Unplanned down time caused by equipment malfunctions, spills, or other disruptions can cause a domino effect that will impact your operation’s output.

It doesn’t take much to stop operations unexpectedly, and that can be costly. Sometimes all it takes to figure out a quick solution and keep things moving is communication between two or more areas. Knowing where your people are in relation to where the problem has occurred can save time and money. Two-way radios can instantly connect multiple people which reduces response times when problems appear and improve results across the entire production line.

Productivity – Never before have manufacturers had to work so hard to do more in less time. Margins are under constant pressure, and in many cases plant managers are having to do more and more with less. Using two-way radios as a communication tool allows workers to instantly communicate with others and help them find quick solutions to problems that may occur. A recent survey by of manufacturing productivity said that 46% of manufacturing workers say that two-way radios reduces downtime by as much as 20%! In fact, there is virtually no area of a plant where using two-way radios doesn’t improve throughput and productivity.

Durability - Professional quality two-way radios are designed to withstand the abuse of hard-working manufacturing plants. They can withstand being dropped on concrete, in water, or even in dust. There is no way cellular phones can withstand this kind of treatment. Consumer radios by contrast are usually built for infrequent use: weekend hunting trips, multiple car caravans, camping trips, amusement park visits, etc. They are lightweight with a thin plastic casing. Commercial radios are designed to be used for hours every day and are constructed with heavy-duty commercial housing. Many are built to military specifications and are waterproof with significant transmitting power.

Two-Way Radios In A Crisis Situation

Two-Way Radios are incredibly valuable tools for manufacturing facilities, but they are also one of the most important tools for crisis management as well. This is especially true for anyone who works in an isolated or remote area, or who works in potentially dangerous environments. In many situations, a cell phone won’t have the immediacy, dependability, or reliability in a crisis. There are three specific features of two-way radios that can greatly improve survivability in a true crisis situation. These include:

  • The Man Down Feature
  • The Lone Worker Feature
  • Emergency Alert Button

The Man Down safety feature detects when there is a lack of movement or if the radio suddenly tilts horizontally, typical signs an accident or emergency is taking place. This application has to be programmed into the two-way radio and is designed to identify when a worker has fallen. When the radio senses lack of movement or a sudden horizontal tilt, a timer is activated which will initiate a “chirp” following a couple of seconds to notify other radio users that there could be an emergency. If the worker is fine but just accidentally tilted the radio, he/she can disable the alert without an emergency signal being sent.

However, if a full minute passes and the worker has not turned off the notification, an alarm will sound to other radios announcing that something is wrong and that the radio operator is unresponsive.

Unlike the Man Down safety feature, the Lone Worker feature is triggered when a worker fails to interact with the radio for a specific period of time. For example, let’s say a worker doesn’t touch the radio for 10 minutes, a pre-warning signal will sound reminding the worker to reset the timer by pressing a button or adjusting a knob. If the worker doesn’t interact with the radio in the next couple of minutes, an emergency notification will be sent to other predesignated radio operators.

One of the simplest and most effective features for averting a crisis is called the Emergency Alert Button. Strategically located on the top of the radio for quick and easy access, the Emergency Alert Button triggers an alarm by pressing one button. Immediately, the radio sends out a voice and/or radio identity to notify specific individuals of an impending emergency. This drastically reduces response times and significantly contributes to a safer environment.