Communication tools food manufacturers need to know about
by Rick Farrell, President, Plant-Tours.com
Clear communication is essential in food manufacturing plants, business owners need to keep up with the latest trends in communications technology.
Clear communication is essential in food manufacturing plants, so food manufacturers need to keep up with the latest trends in communications technology.
Seven Communications Trends for 2022
Keeping up with the latest technology is essential to profitability in food manufacturing. These technology trends will make food manufacturing more efficient, safe and improve working conditions.
High Noise Headsets
Being able to communicate in a food manufacturing setting is essential, but the noise of manufacturing can make that difficult. For example, cell phones can be challenging to use in a factory, and Bluetooth headsets aren’t designed for use in high-noise environments.
Communication headsets for noisy environments, known as high-noise headsets, include a Noise Reduction Rating, a two-way radio, and a noise-canceling microphone for clear communication even on a noisy factory floor. As a result, employees will be able to communicate clearly.
High-noise headsets are helpful for factory tours. Investors, subcontractors, or community leaders could wear high-noise headsets while touring a food manufacturing plant, enabling them to ask questions and share ideas.
There’s no better way for leaders to learn more about cutting costs and reducing waste than to talk with employees on the front lines. Factory floor meetings are a simple but effective communications trend in manufacturing.
The Japanese manufacturing trend of Gemba walks, translating to “the actual place,” is similar. In Gemba walks, executives walk to where manufacturing is done to observe the work firsthand and learn more about the manufacturing process.
Floor meetings or walks give leaders and employees opportunities to identify areas for improvement and collaborate on solutions. This open communication style will boost productivity and employee morale.
Cloud-based technology allows food manufacturers to share, input, and change data easily, even among employees who work from home or at remote locations. Cloud-based documents can be accessed by factory workers and those in different time zones.
The cloud-based communication trend is growing. About 60 percent of businesses have already moved their work to the cloud in 2020, which is expected to continue rising.
Internet of Things
Food manufacturers can improve workflow and boost productivity and profit margins by embracing the technology known as the Internet of Things, or IoT. RFID and barcode technology can relay information quickly and seamlessly, reducing the need to enter data manually.
The IoT is becoming part of the Industry 4.0 trend that includes 3D printing, robotics, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and greater worker connectivity. In Industry 4.0, equipment and computers share information.
By 2025, more than 75 billion manufacturing devices will be connected and sharing data, boosting productivity and reducing waste.
Another communication trend in food manufacturing is digital signage that users can change quickly to share information in a noisy environment. For example, digital signage can communicate vital information with employees about a hazardous condition or let them know of a bottleneck on the factory assembly line.
Electronic Batch Records
The technology of electronic batch records makes entering and finding errors in large batches of data easier. Electronic batch records streamline data entry and management while reducing the risk of human error.
Batch records can manage data related to human resources, supplier information, manufacturing operations, and more, making company operations run more efficiently.
As a result, companies can manage reams of information effectively and accurately, which reduces the number of employees dedicated to data entry.
These systems include Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Process Control Systems (PCS).
Smart watches, smart gloves, and smart glasses are part of an $838 million trend in 2022. Wearable devices such as scanners that allow workers to scan barcodes and “hearables” let them communicate easily on a noisy factory floor and are growing in popularity within the food industry.
Just as a worker would wear an apron or a toolbelt as part of their workwear, a high-noise headset or a scanner allows workers to do their jobs easily and efficiently.
Wearable communications items are as lightweight and comfortable as they are useful in a factory setting. Access to data analytics can take the information gathered through wearable devices and make it relevant and relatable.
The Bottom Line
Better communication means less waste, greater efficiency, and higher profits. Food manufacturing noise and distance between worksites can make communication difficult, but the latest communication trends can surmount those obstacles to effective communication and information sharing.
Keeping up with these communication trends will give food manufacturers an edge in production and profitability.