Industry 4.0, digitalisation, predictive maintenance: the manufacturing industry is a sector in which optimising infrastructure and the use of machinery is becoming increasingly important for businesses to remain competitive.
However, only a few industrial companies have recognised the potential available from their communications equipment. Despite using state-of-the-art IP infrastructures, many organisations aren’t reaping the full rewards from possible integration between IT, operational technology (OT) and telecommunications.
This is an extraordinary area of potential that Snom, a globally established manufacturer of premium IP end devices, illustrates below with a few examples.
Automatic recording of production status and delivery or dispatch of goods by telephone
A telephone switchboard which is based on the SIP standard and is integrated with a company’s information system (ERP/CRM), to which video intercoms and IP terminals are connected, makes it possible to control incoming and outgoing goods in real time.
For example, the correct gate or barrier to a loading ramp can be opened at the touch of a button on an IP telephone, and warehouse staff will be immediately informed about incoming goods via IP paging systems or DECT telephones. Best of all, employees can initiate this without having to leave their workstation.
It is also possible to change the processing status of a product via a button on the telephone and automatically notify colleagues about the sequence of production – as well as feeding this information into the production management system. This gives you full control of production status in real time, without having to use additional PCs or tablets across various assembly workstations.
Operational continuity and safety in the workplace
All technicians can be informed simultaneously at the push of a button about malfunctions and any issues jeopardising production via a group call. Calls can be automatically transmitted to all available internal and external technicians, without having to call individuals who may be on a break or not on-call. In companies where a significant number of employees are usually roaming the company premises or who have no fixed workplace, the use of modern IP DECT terminals ensures that employees can be contacted at all times and at any location within the company building.
This is also delivering benefits when it comes to employee safety. A programmable alarm button on Snom telephones is an example of this – the ‘person down’ function of the Snom M85 cordless industrial telephone registers if the device has been horizontal and motionless for a long period of time. An emergency message can then be sent, depending on the programming of the device. This is ideal for warehouse and factory environments where staff may not be working in isolation or in areas where it’s difficult to shout for help should they have an accident.
When using wireless IP phones, it is necessary they meet the high standards of industrial organisations. This could, for example, include an anti-bacterial, easy-to-disinfect shell or ensuring they conform to military standards which require phones to be incredibly robust, as well as being resistant to dust and humidity – all features which are important in construction and heavy industry. With many factories featuring thick walls and doors, it’s also important to ensure you have an incredibly good signal range that isn’t impacted by fire doors or walls made from reinforced concrete. With its single and multicell solution for indoors and outdoors, Snom ensures that optimum conditions are met.
Where is the forklift truck?
In large, multi-hall industrial plants, locating machinery can be a challenge and often takes up considerable time, particularly during hectic delivery periods. When exploring localisation, beacons and tags are one piece of telecommunications equipment that can enable location-specific indoor navigation to save time and money.
Beacon gateways act as compact receivers that can register devices via Bluetooth or tags and report their location. They are ideally suited to inventory and warehouse management, as theft protection for stock, or as a tool to locate mobile work equipment.
Solutions developed by Snom for these scenarios ensure that beacons are distributed over an industrial site or in warehouses, and send a constant signal to a compatible IP DECT or desk phone via a DECT multicell solution. The tags can be attached to individual devices such as forklift or pallet trucks.
Due to the constant exchange between the beacons and tags – as well as between beacons and telephones – the position of a tag can be more accurately determined and tracked live – at the push of a button.
Upgrading IT and OT infrastructures with state-of-the-art solutions undoubtedly contributes to an increase in productivity. So, it is essential for industrial businesses to optimise their employees’ daily routine, by providing them with effective tools to complete everyday tasks.
This is precisely why numerous companies from the industrial sector have chosen mixed installations of IP desk phones and DECT cordless phones, together with paging and relay control systems from Snom, not only in administrative offices, but increasingly in production and warehouses.