How Push-to-Talk Communication Enables True Collaboration
Communicating with frontline logistics teams is challenging because frontline teams often work in remote locations, and they are constantly on the move in warehouses, at depots, or on the road.
Companies rely on radios to communicate with frontline workers, but radios fail when teams communicate across long distances and through physical barriers like concrete walls.
Communication is often disjointed, with workers isolated for extended periods of time. These communication blackouts decrease efficiency and clog the supply chain.
Most companies are beginning to realize the importance of real-time communication for frontline workers. According to a Harvard Business Review survey, nearly 86% of companies say frontline workers need better technology to support accurate, real-time judgment calls. Many companies are investing in collaboration software to connect their entire workforce.
Why Is Real-time Communication So Important in Logistics?
Effective logistics is a complex coordination of warehousing and transporting goods. Successful logistics increases efficiency, lowers costs, and improves production rates, inventory control, and use of warehouse space. Both customers and suppliers are more satisfied, ensuring better long-term relationships.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, logistics has remained in a constant state of flux. Logistics teams continue to face challenges, including high fuel prices, labor shortages, disrupted supply chains, geo-political upheaval, and difficulty sourcing raw materials and securing available transport.
Many of these logistics challenges are exacerbated by communication delays and disruptions, making effective logistics communications across supervisors and frontline teams more important than ever. The world is moving fast, and logistics teams need to keep up.
How Radios Fail Logistics Teams
Frontline employees and management teams need real-time collaboration to operate at the most efficient levels. Radios are the most common communication choice for logistics and warehouse teams, but they are not the best choice. Radios don’t provide the collaboration capabilities required to successfully navigate today’s complex challenges.
- Radio networks are geographically limited with connectivity issues. They don’t effectively link workers distributed in warehouses, shipping depots, and on the road. Radio transmissions are impacted by the number of floors, stairwells, and walls in a given location and communicating in concrete structures with radios is almost impossible. Dispatch centers and supervisors need continuous contact with all team members, but radios have gaps in connectivity.
- Radios are single-function devices, restricted to voice communications. Voice alone is not always enough to explain a situation clearly or provide detailed instructions to a team member. The longer it takes to accurately describe a situation, the more likely you are to have delayed shipments and deliveries.
- Radios do not keep track of team members. One of the most common uses for radios is determining the status and location of deskless workers, but radios can’t tell dispatchers where workers are, which vehicles are in motion, and who’s online and listening. The first question dispatchers usually ask is, “what is your location?” Dispatchers must wait for the workers to stop what they are doing to respond to know where they are. It is difficult to optimize operations when you don’t know where everyone is.
- Radios do not enable automated processes. If a frontline worker has a question, they must contact someone on the radio, ask the question, and then wait for that person to find the answer. There is no quick way to access information from back-end systems, and routine status checks and verifications of procedures require a two-way conversation.
- With radios, incidents and emergency situations like incapacitations, location breaches, and panic alarms are handled with a call across a radio channel. Someone must hear the call, respond, and manually start emergency procedures. If no one is listening at that moment, the incident response is delayed. If there is a fire in a warehouse or a driver has broken down, you want to begin emergency procedures as quickly as possible.
- Radios do not record and archive conversations, so you aren’t capturing any information from communications shared between team members. This information is useful for optimizing operations and during incident review and compliance meetings.
The Solution: Push-to-Talk 2.0 (PTT)
Maintaining connection with your entire logistics team doesn’t have to be difficult. With a unified communication platform like Orion’s PTT 2.0, you can reach your team any time, anywhere. Logistics challenges can be solved faster with increased range, complete connectivity, and automated processes.
With Push-to-Talk 2.0, you can:
- Stay connected with frontline workers no matter where they are. PTT 2.0 does not have the connectivity issues that radios have. Logistics teams located in warehouses, depots, and on the road stay connected over any network, including LTE, private LTE, Wi-Fi, satellite, and mesh. Workers can communicate over any distance, including on-site, on the road, across town, or across the continent and maintain connectivity through floors, stairwells, and concrete walls.
- Tell the complete story with multimodal communication. If a team member needs to document an event from the road, a warehouse, or any remote location, they can capture the situation using texts, photos, PDFs, videos, and any other supporting documents. Management gets a clear picture of the situation, enabling better incident review and analysis as well as improved compliance reporting if required.
- Use advanced location services with real-time geolocation of each employee to always know the exact location of every asset and team member. With real-time visibility across the entire logistics team, operational command can monitor and adjust plans, optimize routes, and update delivery estimates without interrupting workers for status checks.
- Enable automated processes, so routine and structured tasks don’t require a person-to-person connection.
- With process automation voice bots, frontline workers use voice-activated checklists and automated check-ins. For example, workers responsible for transporting goods can use voice bots to complete checklists and compliance forms prior to moving goods. This ensures smoother movement of products through the supply chain and provides complete visibility for compliance checks.
- Intelligence amplification bots provide frontline workers real-time access to systems, data, and subject matter experts from the road, in the factory, or in the warehouse. Workers can consult manuals and receive instructions from bots, so they don’t have to wait for a person to manually search for information.
- AI bots automate safety check-ins to monitor the location, status, and movement of each team member. No one in operational command has to stop work to wait for a response, and frontline workers can quickly click a button to respond without interrupting their work.
- Use Emergency Response Bots to enable automated emergency response with a single word, ensuring the fastest response. If there is a problem, the worker simply uses a predefined codeword and voice-activated, real-time automated workflows are triggered to manage the emergency response. Push-to-Talk 2.0 AI bots provide multi-step workflows that deliver on-demand intelligence, enabling faster, smarter responses to location breaches, lone worker situations, and other incidents or emergencies. Operational command receives notification of the incident in real time and can monitor the situation and response.
- Record and archive all staff messages and interactions, including voice, text, and visual media. Operational command can monitor communication groups and process information in real time or on demand. Management can search and retrieve information for incident reporting, reaction analysis, and compliance reporting. This information also helps teams optimize operations.
As logistics challenges continue to grow, frontline workers need better technology to support accurate, real-time judgment calls. With PTT 2.0, logistics challenges can be managed more effectively, ensuring faster delivery of goods, optimized transportation, and safer work environments.