By Mary Kate McGrath - September 22, 2020
The manufacturing industry is, by design, broken into a variety of stakeholders - from an executive suite or top-tier managers, material or production planning teams, sales, finance, procurement, distribution, and more. This poses a unique communication challenge for the industry - how to engage and connect all these workers, facilitating smooth and safe operations for the long term. Industry leaders might be wondering which tools will best help streamline operations in manufacturing, promoting transparency across teams, and bridging persistent communication gaps.
Now, with COVID-19 further complicating manufacturing protocol, the demand for a more connected workplace is higher than ever. Additionally, natural disaster events and other contemporary safety risks might disrupt operations, stressing the need for a proactive communications stance. The sooner managers can begin to build out their corporate communication strategy, the better prepared for any situation, whether it’s bolstering every day on-site operations or ensuring business continuity during an emergency scenario.
To do so, manufacturing leaders are prioritizing technology, especially systems that can facilitate communications across departments - from the executive suite where planning occurs to individuals working on the factory floor, to truck drivers responsible for distributing products. A mass notification system with a broad range of capability can be one of the key tools for improving operations - allowing leaders to quickly distribute information, maintain safe and efficient conditions, and keep workers up-to-date via an employee safety app.
One key element of manufacturing operations is to break down siloed information, allowing all stakeholders to have a clear picture of the organization’s operations, and make decisions accordingly. Teams in manufacturing are likely to leverage a variety of systems, databases, or dashboards, and while these systems might be working well for their individual teams, it’s possible information isn’t reaching across departments, as per EHS Today. Managers looking to improve operations should bolster communications, streamlining both the flow of internal data and the capacity to reach workers externally.
The ability to quickly share information can help breakdown siloed information and improve decision-making among shareholders. Managers can use the system to distribute information to all workers, whether or not these individuals are on-site or working remotely. The notifications can be sent out simultaneously, and reach workers via test, desktop alerts, sirens, or more, all in three simple clicks.
While managers can use these notifications, it can also boost internal support, allowing workers to connect with and engage each other over relevant data or information. For example, if one team is making changes to how they process goods, inventory items, or facilitate the flow of materials, these new protocols can be communicated across the organization, allowing other workers to adjust their process accordingly. This proactive, inter-departmental communication will prevent any serious confusion, as well as allow for ongoing adjustments among team members.
Many manufacturing plants will likely be allotting time and resources toward staffing. Mass notification can help these administrators save both time and money - leveraging an automated polling module to prevent the slow, manual process of shift-filling. Within minutes, administrators can fill a staffing shortage or facilitate a shift-change for a worker by sending out a quota poll through text, email, or voice call.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further complicated shift scheduling - workers who are exhibiting symptoms need to be encouraged to remain home and self-quarantine, which can cause staffing shortages. The polling feature also allows administrators to reach out to both sick employees, ensuring those individuals understand public health protocol and have access to care, while simultaneously connecting with healthy workers to find a replacement.
Manufacturing is facing an unprecedented number of obstacles that could disrupt, or all but halt, operations, with the pandemic, natural disasters, or other concerns. However, more local concerns, such as power outages, traffic pattern changes, or nearby construction, could also potentially pose schedules or operations challenges. If managers proactively communicate any relevant concerns to workers, employees can plan for these delays.
The system can also help boost corporate resiliency and buoy business continuity procedures in the future. No matter what the adverse event - whether it’s a machine malfunction or a violent incident, staff can be informed immediately and engage directly with relevant departments, such as security or human resources.
The two-way anonymous tip feature can also further bolster safety - empowering workers to report any concerning situations or suspicious behavior to relevant stakeholders. The feature connects workers directly with safety stakeholders and allows workers to come forward with critical information without fear of retaliation.
Manufacturing relies on the ability of teams to work seamlessly together, and any disruption can have repercussions across the organization. The ability to improve emergency response stance will ultimately result in smoother, more sustainable operations, safer, more productive workers, and better industry success overall.
Mary Kate is a content specialist and social media manager for the Rave Mobile Safety team. She writes about public safety for the state & local and education spheres.
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