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What is a Two-Way Communication System?

Two-Way Communication Systems

Two-way communication systems have many uses. In manufacturing settings a two-way communication system is primarily used for interactive tours as well as collaborative training and meetings. When using a two-way system the user can push a button on a cord connected to a two-sided headset allowing the user to speak to the group. Main speakers have an additional cord connected to the headset that provides a lockable feature which permits speaking without holding a button down. When the lockable button is pressed the user can speak freely to the group while having their hands free to use for other purposes during the collaborative event. Another benefit of the two-way system is the ability to have multiple guides on the same system. By using push to talk and the lockable feature, speaking duties can be transferred seamlessly between presenters. Using a two-way system in environments with background noise allows conversation at normal levels rather than using raised voices, a reduction of ambient noise, and improved participant safety.


Two-Way Communication System & Social Distancing Requirements

The past year has seen many changes to workplace environments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many businesses moved employees from in person office work to remote work from home. This was not the case for many manufacturers who produce essential products. While the work is important, employee safety is much more important, therefore all possible precautions must be taken to ensure the safety of the people at facilities which remain open. OSHA recommends practices such as keeping workers home if they are sick and making sure that if any worker begins to show symptoms, isolate them and send them home are absolutely necessary. Additional actions include: mandating 6 feet of distance between workers, staggered/flexible work shifts, repositioning workstations and installing plexiglass partitions. All these actions will minimize risk and need to be put in place as well. To make sure that the distance between people is kept and to help with vital communication to keep processes and productivity high, employers need to provide communication systems to workers. Two-way communication systems will allow employees to talk to each other in normal, calm voices without yelling over machine noise or over distance. These systems include headphones with built in microphones along with a receiver, transmitter or a transceiver. The lockable feature allows for orderly two-way communication while allowing for hands-free work to be done at the same time. Two-way communication systems will allow for regular meetings, training, collaborative tours, and regular work days to proceed as normal.

Two-Way System Applications

In addition to social distancing requirements, two-way tour guide systems work great for many applications. Any setting with high background noise such as manufacturing, warehouses or trade shows. Another use of the two-way communication system is for emergency services. An example of this would be a fire command center which is a communication center designed to be located near the fire department response point in order to control and transmit information pertaining to a fire emergency site. All major fire associations (NFPA, NFPA72) and international building code (IBC) advise that an emergency communication system be set up immediately to coordinate the fire response. This central control point, complying with state fire code and building code and directed by the AHJ, must be the monitoring location of detection, fire alarm system, sprinkler system and other control systems of the building.


Fire Command Center Communication

For example if a fire breaks out on the fifth floor of a new construction high rise in a downtown area, emergency communications systems can be set up in the lobby control room. From this location the fire official can observe the current situation and direct personnel from entering and leaving as well as allocate resources to best save lives and fight the fire. Personnel will need to use two-way voice communication to communicate accessible floor, level of exit, potential areas of refuge and other important life safety information to responders who will then assist occupants in the building. Using two-way communications systems, the official will be able to give information specific to floor level including accessible route information, clear elevator landings, and other information regarding area of rescue assistance. All this information will increase survivability chances since standard visible signals may be obstructed by smoke or other means. Call boxes by banks of elevators, signage, private residence elevator access could be unavailable to occupants. As part of the fire code of the building visual characters such as braille door signs for the visually impaired that include accessibility information will be in place as well as other information pertaining to part of the accessible means of egress on floors provided for occupancy exit discharge. The required safety markers will help in an emergency situation of this nature but the increased flow of information through two-way audio communication could be the difference between survival and death. In emergency situations, two-way communication systems provide an out capability over one-way systems because of the importance of information flow in both directions. The commanding fire official will need information from the front lines and the responding personnel in the building will need an overview of the situation from the command center. Communication system requirements include durability, ease of use and clear audio transmission even in potentially smoke filled environments.

Two-Way Systems Improve Collaboration

There are many uses for two-way communication systems. In high background noise environments such as manufacturing, warehouses and trade shows these systems are needed to reduce ambient noise and allow normal conversation. During employee and staff training, tours, and other meetings and events the systems will provide additional benefits like hearing protection, improved social distancing practices and better communication over distance. Two-way communication systems will also be effective in emergency situations like fire command centers where officials need to communicate with responders in difficult environments where existing equipment may not be functioning properly. Two-way systems provide value in all situations where flow of information between users is important. Click here to see two-way communication headset options.

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