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Effectively Communicate on the Manufacturing Floor

Manufacturing companies depend on all of their team members when it comes to having a successful and efficient operation. This includes the frontline employees, the desk workers, and the workers on the production line. In the manufacturing business, production floor communication breakdowns can lead to disastrous results for both productivity and safety in the workplace. In our experience, the best way to ensure your profitability is to have strong employee engagement and effective communication from top to bottom. Unfortunately, many manufacturing operations struggle in both areas.

Gallup published a white paper in 2017 entitled “State of the American Workplace” that concluded that manufacturing employees struggle with engagement. Only 25% of frontline workers in the manufacturing industry report substantial engagement with the overall manufacturing process, which is 8 percentage points lower than the U.S. national average.

In one of our recent projects, we worked closely with a client in the manufacturing industry who was facing challenges in employee engagement. We developed a customized communication system that significantly reduced noise interference, allowing workers to communicate effectively and safely. This enhancement not only improved safety standards but also led to a noticeable increase in worker involvement and satisfaction within their production processes.

There are a number of reasons why manufacturing employees aren’t fully engaged in the manufacturing process. The daily challenges of a manufacturing work environment often take higher priority in their minds than management decisions that don’t affect their department. But they can always benefit from a communication channel to leadership. Good communication can positively impact both employee engagement and your company’s bottom line, and you owe it to yourself to find the right communication tools to keep your team in the loop. Headset communication systems can overcome some of the traditional challenges associated with communication in a manufacturing or warehouse environment.

Why Communication Is So Important on the Manufacturing Floor

Your manufacturing floor is where the important work takes place, and a successful operation depends on a lot of important factors. For starters, more automation in the manufacturing process frees up your human talent to focus on more important work. Standardized operations and increased automation certainly aren’t overnight processes, and you can’t simply install machinery in your plant and press a button to do all the work. You need fully invested employees who know the process and a communication strategy that keeps your operation organized.

One of the traditional challenges of communicating with employees on a factory floor is that many of your workers often can’t conveniently monitor email or answer their phone for a variety of reasons.

One of our clients consistently struggled to relay critical information to their factory floor workers due to the noisy environment and poor phone reception. We designed a hands free, two-way communication system for them, which allowed for clear, hands-free audio messaging. This solution not only improved the efficiency of information flow but also ensured the safety of employees who were operating heavy machinery, as they could now receive important updates without distractions.

OSHA sets a permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 90dBA for an eight-hour workday, and hearing protection is required in a noise-rich environment. The advantage of a communication headset system is crystal-clear audio quality for spoken conversations no matter how much plant noise is present. Employees won’t have to remove their headsets to speak to each other or yell to get the attention of co-workers not in their immediate line of sight, and they can converse normally as they work together on the line.

Two-Way Communication Methods

Keeping open lines of communication is one of the most important parts of a properly empowered workforce. Information should always flow from the top down, but seasoned leaders understand the importance of having access to information at the street level. Employees on the factory floor should have an effective communication channel with both their co-workers and their leaders.

Wireless two-way communication headsets work in the same way as a conventional walkie-talkie system and facilitate unrestricted direct communication between team members without interference or excess ambient noise. You can accommodate as many users as you need and adjust the system to compensate for the amount of noise in your plant or factory.

Real-Time Interaction

Your manufacturing companies can use a wireless headset system to keep your team organized in real-time. Leadership can communicate directly with line employees, and apps can send mobile notifications to team members in the field when action is required. Workers on the floor will always know where they’re needed and what tasks they will need to perform. Employee communication apps are also a great way to get a temporary or an ad hoc operation started quickly.

A headset system is a great tool to facilitate real-time information exchange and can be especially useful to enhance face-to-face interactions in moderate to high noise areas. By reducing external noise, the headset allows each participant to hear every word of the group conversation no matter where the meeting is taking place. You should anticipate a slight learning curve as you and your team begin to use them in the field. Be prepared to make procedural changes as needed when you encounter opportunities to improve the way you use your new wireless system.

Communication Through Preferred Language

Today’s factory floor is staffed with an increasingly diverse workforce, which prevents both benefits and challenges. Companies can now take advantage of the best talent that the world has to offer, and the advent of globalization has created outsourcing possibilities that extend across borders everywhere. 

We talk to a lot of manufacturing companies that want to enhance their multilingual workforce’s communication in a noisy factory setting. Our solution was a customized headset system capable of delivering notifications in various languages. This innovation not only bridged language barriers but also significantly improved comprehension and response times among employees, fostering a more inclusive and efficient work environment.

Prioritize Safety Protocols

Safety training is always one of the top priorities for new employees, and creating a safe work environment will also benefit the retention of your seasoned staff. A wireless headset communication system will satisfy your hearing protection requirements and enable real-time communication in the field. Workplace accidents usually begin with a communication problem, and a headset system overcomes many of the most common communications problems encountered in a manufacturing environment.

Keeping appropriate signage on the factory floor and keeping safety protocols and policies posted on the bulletin board in the break room or in another conspicuous location will satisfy most legal requirements, and your communication system should also keep your team members notified of new information right away. The pandemic has affected the American workplace in countless ways, and safety protocols continue to change frequently. The good news is that keeping an empowered workforce properly informed is easier than ever in today’s digital workplace.

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