Train With Wireless Headsets
EP Editorial Staff | February 10, 2021
Bluetooth and Mesh Intercom technologies allow you to maintain training practices while meeting employee-health requirements.
By Chris Clarke, Sena Technologies
Training in plants today is very different than it was a year ago. The pandemic has changed the way that plant workers interact, introducing training challenges that are as small as maintaining safe distances and as large as not being able to travel to conduct or participate in classes and seminars. One way to overcome these challenges is to use wireless voice-communication technologies.
Headsets with Bluetooth or Mesh Intercom capabilities are strong, efficient, and effective communication tools. They are independent from wifi, cellular signals, and electricity and are easy to set up. Industrial-grade Bluetooth Intercom is more than the commonly considered consumer Bluetooth applications. It operates with specific profiles that connect robust headsets for voice communication. Bluetooth Intercom is capable of connecting as many as four headsets, making it an ideal technology for smaller groups.
Mesh Intercom transmits voice communication on a mesh network in which each device acts as a node that builds the network, making it stronger and expanding the range. Mesh Intercom technology can support a large number of headsets that use multiple channels for communicating with different groups, so it’s an ideal communication solution for training larger groups.
In today’s environments, in-person training is still possible, but there are challenges. While noisy plant environments remain a common problem, social distancing adds complication, whether the plant is noisy or not. Bluetooth or Mesh Intercom communication headsets can be used easily while wearing masks and maintaining distance. In noisy environments, communication headsets that have integrated hearing protection will make it easier to hear instruction while also protecting hearing.
The common practice of gathering workers at a single location for training or sending an instructor to a site is generally not safe during a pandemic. The most-common solution is virtual training. While that can work in some instances, it’s not always an option when training must be conducted on the plant floor. That’s where Mesh Intercom can offer a solution.
Adapters for Mesh Intercom systems are designed to connect smartphones or tablets that are equipped with Bluetooth to mesh-communication networks. This allows a tablet to broadcast a video conference that can easily take place on a plant floor with clear audio. This connects participants on the floor with remote instructors, allowing training to be conducted as one large group with nearly the same clarity and effectiveness as if it were done completely in person.
In early 2020, a large food-processing company planned an executive visit, demonstration, and training session on a new piece of equipment. Those plans had to change due to pandemic travel restrictions. Rather than reschedule the entire program, the company connected a tablet to their Mesh Intercom network.
They hosted a Zoom call from the tablet for those who were remote. The team of five who were on site were able to do the training while social distancing since they were wearing Mesh Intercom headsets on the same mesh network. The team could still present and host a discussion at the machine as originally planned in a safe and cost-effective manner. EP
Chris Clarke is Industrial Communications Consultant at Sena Technologies Inc., Irvine, CA. Sena develops and manufactures Bluetooth- and Mesh-enabled headsets and communications solutions that provide safe, handsfree communication in industrial and outdoor worksite environments. Learn more at senaindustrial.com.