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Study: Cell phones problematic as plant communication

9/11/2014

Cell phones are one of the most used means of communication in manufacturing plants across the country, but they are falling short for day-to-day operations, according to a new study.

manufacturing worker with phone

One-third of the small, medium and large manufacturers surveyed in 32 states by Motorola use cell phones as their primary means of plant communication. They are used so much, in part, because many workers bring their own devices to work.

Another 31 percent use two-way radios and the rest are split between email and overhead paging systems. Landline phones are the least used, according to the 2014 Study: Top Trends in Plant Communications.

Reasons respondents said cell phones can be problematic include:

The most important consideration for plant communication, the manufacturers said, was having a reliable device with a long battery life.

Having a rugged device that won’t be broken if it is dropped is also important. Each communication failure costs manufacturers 80 minutes in production time and over 2.5 hours of support time.

According to the study, two-way radios were said to be of greatest benefit in resolving problems quickly (60 percent); helping workers collaborate (50 percent); increasing work place productivity (49 percent); improving worker safety (44 percent); and decreasing unplanned downtime (32 percent).

Nearly half of those surveyed said an updated communication system would improve their company’s efficiency and worker safety.

Asked what communications capabilities are most important for plant communications systems, respondents answered:

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