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The modern supply chain is much faster, slicker, connected and customer focussed, with an underpinning necessity which ensures everything runs as it should, and on time – Communication.

Effective communication is the key ingredient in today’s supply chain with the slightest missed or mixed-message at any stage having the potential to snowball into a disaster.

Digital two-way radios have become a key cog in the modern supply chain, ensuring messages can be communicated quickly and reliably to those who need them, and over a much wider net.

In this blog we lay out why digital two-way radios have become such an essential element of today’s supply chain and identify the key features which allow these devices to ensure everything remains aligned and on track.

Long battery life

Workers within the modern supply chain can work long shifts – some totalling 12 hours – and they need to be able to communicate with and be reached by colleagues at all times. The last thing they need is for a device to run out of battery part-way through a shift, or spend large parts of it waiting for a battery to recharge.

Long battery life, therefore, is essential.

The typical radio usage life cycle revolves around a 5-5-90% principle. In essence 5% of your time is spent transmitting, 5% is receiving information and 90% of the time the radio is on standby.

This is an effective method of battery management not possible to achieve with a mobile phone because with those devices whether you are talking or listening the device is “engaged”.

Battery technology and the use of Lithium-ion has improved battery cycles even more by providing continuous use for up to 14 hours – ensuring your radios are working for as long as your workforce.

Individual and group communication

At times within the supply chain, it may be that a single employee only needs to communicate with another individual, on other occasions the need to communicate with a larger group at once is essential.

Neither mobile phones nor legacy two-way radios provide this functionality, but digital two-way radios do.

For instance, a manager may need something to be done urgently within a particular area but not have complete visibility over which employees are closest. In this situation having to contact one-by-one to determine their location is not an option. With the ability to communicate with a group of employees – or everyone in the warehouse – they can get an employee on site much quicker.

Similarly an employee in one location may need an answer from someone at another warehouse quickly and being able to have everyone hear the communication is likely to lead to an answer much quicker.

Noise cancellation

It may seem like an obvious thing to highlight, but a key part of communication within a business environment is having both sides of the conversation actually be able to hear each other.

But this is a problem which has plagued operation’s relying on mobile phones and analogue radios for years.

What both of these devices have in common is that they lack the ability to cancel out noise going on in the background which, in a busy environment like a warehouse, is a huge problem when it stops employees from hearing each other.

Either they won’t be able to hear at all and messages aren’t getting through or they will miss hear something and make decisions based on incorrect information.

Either way the supply chain stalls.

Digital two-way radios on the other hand do come with the ability to cancel out background noise, providing a much clearer reception and ensuring messages can be heard and accurately acted upon.

Health and Safety

While digital two-way radios provide a number of business benefits and can have a positive impact on the bottom line, perhaps their biggest impression on the supply chain is raising the bar in terms of health and safety.

The fast moving nature of the modern chain means that the ability to locate workers in particular areas, or be instantly alerted when they are in danger is becoming more important. With legacy devices this has not been possible and a worker in trouble or injured has essentially been relying on either being able to actively raise an alarm themselves or be stumbled upon by a colleague.

Safety features within digital two-way radios however take the initiative of raising alarms away from individual workers and create a “safe by design” structure within the supply chain.

For instance, the Man Down feature within a digital two-way radio, which involved installing a “tilt switch” to detect the angle of the radio along with movement, means that a pre-set alarm can be sounded if the device is titled or becomes inactive for a set period of time – suggesting the employee is injured or in some danger.

This means nearby colleagues or managers can be alerted quicker to trouble and can get help to the employee faster than they otherwise would.

Having this kind of safety feature within the supply chain is an important part of ensuring employees remain safe whilst meeting demanding requirements.

Similarly, location tracking technology means an individual employee’s location within an area can be determined and if they enter an area which is deemed hazardous they can be alerted.

All of these features have become an important element of an important device within the modern supply chain helping to ensure not only that operations continue smoothly and profitably but that those within the supply network remain as safe as possible at all times.

To find out more about how digital two-way radios can help your business improve its supply chain management or enable better communication, click here