In the past organisations that wanted to give onsite mobile workers a communication solution didn't have many choices: radio-based systems, pagers or tannoys were more or less it. Today there's an almost bewildering array of technologies for organisations looking to update or extend those original systems. How do you go about choosing the platform that's right for both current and future requirements?
Hospitals, clinics, research facilities, manufacturing plants — these are just some of the organisations that tend to have a lot of employees who move around their sites. In almost every case, there will be some kind of communication system in place for those mobile workers: a radio-based system that enables regular contact between, say, a maintenance or engineering manager and their team; pagers that direct medical staff to patients in need of attention; a tannoy system that can be used to call the factory foreman to an urgent meeting or telephone call.
But over the years, organisational or employee needs may have changed, and some of these older systems may no longer be completely fit for purpose. If a customer or supplier calls to speak with the engineering manager, how easily can he or she be brought to the phone? The engineering team may be able to contact each other, but be cut off from the maintenance team. And the back-office may be unable to speak to either team.
Communications may have been enhanced in some areas using point solutions, such as providing team managers with mobile phones. But if it's been done in an ad-hoc way, there will be no overall integration or site-wide improvement — just increased costs and multiple contracts to manage.
MORE THAN TECHNOLOGY ALONE
If you're too busy fire-fighting the day-to-day problems, you won't have time to sit down and analyse the situation properly to work out what each department needs and what's required across the site as a whole. Even if you do have the time, you may end up feeling somewhat daunted by the likely scope and scale of the project and the sheer range of technologies on the market today. How do you work out which one is right for your organisation?
Plenty of suppliers will be specialists in one of those technologies; but however skilled they are, they won't be able to give you independent advice. The risk is that they simply push you down the route of the technology they know, without fully taking account of your business needs or the systems already installed on your site.
Ideally, you'd work with a provider that's knowledgeable and experienced across the entire communications spectrum — one that can provide you with unbiased consultancy and advice that starts with what you want to achieve, rather than any one technology.
ANT Telecom is one such provider. Our preferred approach is to work closely with our customers, including spending plenty of time on site. That way, we can find out not just what the facilities or IT manager thinks is needed, but also how end users work and what would make their lives easier.
A PROCESS-DRIVEN APPROACH
We'll look at the overall communications and IT infrastructure that's already in place, with a view to utilising it wherever possible, rather than simply 'ripping and replacing'.
Are your teams struggling to work within the limitations of your existing communications technology, rather than being empowered by it? We'll investigate all aspects of your current setup to see if there are opportunities to enhance or streamline processes to increase efficiency and productivity — and even safety.
If you have lone workers, for example, we can look at whether they're well protected by your existing technology, or whether there's a considerable manual element that could be automated. We can provide sophisticated handsets that feature 'man down' alerts; or integrate location information using an IP-based solution over WiFi.
If your business depends on machine-driven processes that trigger alarms when a problem occurs, we can integrate those alarms with your mobility solution. Instead of a team member watching a monitor for alarms and phoning a colleague to fix a broken machine, those alarms can be routed directly to the mobile handset of the person or team responsible — speeding up response times, helping staff make better use of their time, and reducing process downtime. Fire alarm systems can be similarly integrated, enabling staff to investigate potential problems more swiftly.
SCALABLE AND FUTURE PROOF
It's generally the case that no single technology can provide the complete solution. Your site may be too large for DECT or voice over WiFi alone — a radio system may need to be integrated to extend coverage when people go further afield. If GSM phones are part of your mobility solution — because people sometimes need to be contactable offsite — we can install a private mobile network for making and receiving internal and external calls on the same handsets at much lower rates than over the public network.
What's also clear is that investing the time and effort in a period of unbiased consultancy — that looks at both business needs and technology — tends to be worthwhile. ANT Telecom's overriding objective is to provide its customers with an integrated solution for onsite mobile communications that's designed to meet the needs of the business and its users. Naturally, the solutions we propose are scalable too: so you can be confident that they'll take care of tomorrow's needs as well as today's.
We can supply rugged devices for hazardous environments; or smart devices like tablets that can receive enhanced alarm information.