Advances in Worksite Connectivity Boosts Productivity, Collaboration and Safety
Wireless Bluetooth and Mesh Intercom technology is changing how workers communicate.
- By Chris Clarke
- Mar 19, 2021
It can hard be for workers to communicate in industrial work environments. Noise levels make it hard to hear one another, forcing workers to shout or use hand signals to communicate. The physical distance typically found in large worksites only exacerbates the problem. When workers need information, they often have to leave their workstations in search of the people and answers they need to move forward. And when an entire team needs to meet, production can be brought to a standstill as the team moves to an area more conducive to conversation.
Safety is also a major concern when communication is limited. Having to shout to alert others to potential dangers can cause delayed reactions, while removing ear protection, even temporarily, can cause hearing loss. When operating machinery or heavy equipment, it is important that workers focus on their environment rather than being distracted by others trying to get their attention.
Enhancing Communication Through Wireless Intercom Technology
Fortunately, wireless Bluetooth and Mesh Intercom technology, by Sena Industrial, is changing how workers communicate. Unlike the two-way radio, these technologies enable full-duplex, hands-free communication. This means that everyone on the network can converse naturally, talking and listening to each other at the same time. Depending on which technology is used, teams can be as small or as big as the application demands.
Using Bluetooth or Mesh technology, work instructions can be shared among entire teams at once. That way, questions and issues are addressed as a group, rather than passing information from worker to worker. When last-minute, critical changes in production occur, everyone can be made immediately aware. If a machine breaks down or supplies run low, the ability to communicate in real-time can reduce downtime. Safety alerts for slip hazards, weather, fire or other situations can also be shared immediately.
Bluetooth Intercom Features
Bluetooth technology used to only be considered for near-field communications. However, new, industrial-grade Bluetooth headsets can reach distances of up to one mile. Communication is crisp and clear, without the signal drops of Wi-Fi or cellular devices.
The Mesh Intercom Solution
Mesh Intercom headsets can connect to a virtually limitless number of devices. These devices are directly connected to each other through the Mesh network, strengthening the network while also broadening its range.
This ultra-reliable network continuously polls devices and chooses the optimal signal path for transmission at ranges of up to a mile. Audio clarity is significantly increased as obstructions and interference are virtually eliminated. Mesh Intercom operates independently of Wi-Fi and cellular signals and is surprisingly simple to set up and operate.
Mesh Intercom is designed for any crew larger than four people. Devices in the same network are automatically connected, eliminating the pairing process. If any user happens to drop out of range, they can seamlessly rejoin by re-entering the range – no manual input required.
Another key feature of the Mesh network is the ability to create whole plant connectivity. In an IoT environment, any machinery with Bluetooth-enabled devices can be connected to the Mesh Intercom network using an adapter. Machine errors and other alerts can supplement or replace pillar lights, texts, and audible notifications, enabling workers to quickly respond to any issues.
Multiple Devices, One Network
With many workers already using their own devices for onsite communication, Bluetooth and Mesh Intercom allows them to connect their personal devices to the network. Smartphones, tablets, and Apple or Google earbuds are compatible using a programmed network adapter. Existing Bluetooth headsets can be retrofitted for the network, as well. Workers can choose the gear that is most comfortable for them while leveraging existing bring-your-own-device programs.
The COVID Factor
The challenges of masking, social distancing and working from home only add to the communication gap. Trying to read someone’s lips is a thing of the past due to masks. The natural conversations enabled by Bluetooth and Mesh Intercom ensure worker safety and allow businesses to comply with state and local mandates.
These technologies also support offsite team communication. By using an adapter with cellular and Wi-Fi networks, users can connect personal devices to the onsite network for multi-site audio and video communication.
Noise reduction, clear communication, and device compatibility are no longer challenges with Bluetooth and Mesh Intercom. With the ability to increase productivity, improve collaboration among teams, and enhance worker safety, the power of Bluetooth and Mesh communication technologies is worth consideration.
Chris Clarke is an Industrial Communications Consultant at Sena Industrial. Established in 1998, Sena Technologies is a global leader in Bluetooth communication innovations and created the Mesh Intercom system. Sena offers Bluetooth- and Mesh-enabled headsets and communications solutions that provide safe, hands-free communication, reliability and efficiency for a host of industrial and outdoor worksite environments. To learn more about Sena communication solutions with integrated hearing protection, visit senaindustrial.com.