The Importance Of Communication Challenges In Manufacturing. The manufacturing sector contributes around 16 % of global GDP annually and is responsible for around 14 % of the world’s employment, according to McKinsey.The sector is extremely diverse… but one thing that many different organizations in the manufacturing industry have in common, regardless of what they manufacture, how they manufacture it, and where they manufacture it, is the challenge of mastering internal communications.
The manufacturing workforce can be more difficult to reach than workforces in many other industry sectors, which makes communication with manufacturing staff quite challenging. Often, manufacturing staff are in environments where they don’t have access to desktop computers where traditional internal communications materials are sent. facilities where they make products and ship them.
The risk to companies in this sector is great.
- Costly mistakes,
- Breakdowns in safety,
- Negative customer outcomes,
- The loss of talented and valuable employees,
- Potential legal issues,
- Reduced productivity,
- Lower profits.
Achieving best-practice internal communication in the manufacturing industry
It can be a lot of hard work and take a lot of effort, but improving internal communications within your company in the manufacturing industry will pay off, particularly if you follow these steps:
Set out your communications objectives.
- Managers effectively communicate with the people they supervise,
- Employees communicating with management,
- Colleagues communicating with one another,
- And different teams communicating with other teams within the organization to break down information silos.
These standards should be set out for all in your factories, to understand and to be able to follow. Consistency in communication is key to ensure that everyone knows the role they play in helping with the success of the company and to understand the company’s goals.
Setting out communications processes will also empower consistency in communication across different locations.
Benchmark your communications activities
See how engaged your staff are by making out a benchmarking survey. Create your internal communications strategy around the results with outcomes that you can measure after communicating with your working staff.
Determine if there are any weaknesses you need to address.
Your overall internal communications could seem good, but there may be a particular part of the company that’s dragging your efforts down.
When you find any weaknesses in the delivery of your communications like this, you’ll need to put objectives in place. This might involve more training for these parts of your company using different tools.
Use different internal communications tools.
Many parts of the manufacturing industry rely on traditional internal communications tools and channels such as:
- Printed newsletters
- Notices on notice boards
- Team/site meetings
Technology is causing a change in every industry, including the manufacturing sector. One of the effects of technological change is that it also changes the staff. The manufacturing sector is increasingly seeing the rise of remote workforces, and non-desk workers.
Using technology and tools to overcome challenges communicating with manufacturing employees
Here are some common internal communications challenges faced in the manufacturing industry, and ways that digital tools can help to solve them.
Setting out communications processes will also empower consistency in communication across different locations.
Challenge #1: Noisy environments
Noise creates other issues with communication in manufacturing, especially when you’re relying on verbal communication either face-to-face or over a PA system to keep employees informed about critical information.
A great way to overcome this is to deploy eye-catching visual communications solutions such as digital signage displays or have prominent alert notifications sent to any computer screens being used within your plant.
Challenge #2: Overcoming a large footprint
Companies operating in the manufacturing sector can be large, with a diverse workforce located in multiple geographic locations. This might include different business premises spread across a country, or even in different geographic locations globally.
This can mean you have employees in multiple time zones, in different countries and continents, even speaking different languages and observing different cultural customs.
Communicating with manufacturing employees who are working from many different locations is challenging at the best of times. Communicating in manufacturing, employees are less likely to be desk-bound. And many aren’t even physically located in a corporate environment at all – for example, sales teams or transport operators who are constantly on the road.
Even people in traditional desk-based roles in this sector, like other sectors, could work remotely from home as digital technology shifts the workforce landscape constantly.
An alerting tool like DeskAlerts is a great communication solution for the manufacturing industry and can help you overcome this challenge by sending notifications to a variety of devices that will reach employees no matter where they are. Notifications can be sent to any corporate screen… this includes laptops and PCs for those who are at a desk or use other computer equipment within a plant. For employees on the go, there are notifications sent to an app on smartphones and tablets. SMS alerts can be sent to cell phones. And the same notifications can be sent to any digital screens throughout your facilities.
Challenge #3: Quickly communicate multiple hazards to ensure business continuity
Communication Challenges In Manufacturing. The manufacturing sector has more occupational risks than sectors that are almost purely office-based. Heavy machinery and other equipment used in the manufacturing process, chemicals, transport, and other occupational hazards can pose very real risks to the health, safety, and lives of employees. Communication in manufacturing needs to be responsive to this.
Other risks such as fire, floods, gas leaks, natural disasters, terrorism, and active shooters are also a concern.
Being able to quickly alert employees to any of these issues is crucial to help them remain safe. DeskAlerts can be used to send mass notifications outlining the issue, and what steps need to be taken, to 1000 people in just one minute, using only one click – saving valuable time in an emergency.
Alerts can be sent to any devices, including computer screens, mobile phones, tablets, and any digital screens in your plant, factory, office, warehouse, or another corporate facility to improve your communication in manufacturing.
DeskAlerts can also be configured to work with a range of other emergency notification systems so it will instantly alert your employees to a hazard, such as a fire or unsafe air quality.
Challenge #4: Low levels of employee engagement
According to a Gallup survey, only 25 % of people employed in manufacturing are engaged at work – this is 8 % lower than for the average US employee, and is one of the greatest HR challenges in the HR industry.
It’s estimated that actively disengaged employees in the United States alone cost the nation’s economy somewhere in the order of between $483 billion to $605 billion every year in lost productivity. And a further $1 trillion in losses can be attributed to preventable workplace injuries, illnesses, absences, staff turnover, and fraud.
Poor communication in manufacturing is a major contributing factor to low levels of engagement – when people don’t know what’s going on or what’s expected of them, it’s difficult to feel like a valuable part of the process.
Using a range of innovative digital tools, you can cut through the clutter and noise of the modern manufacturing workplace and reach your employees with critical information.
Challenge #5: People are not always at the computer
Communication Challenges In Manufacturing. Workers who are on the manufacturing floor don’t always have access to their smartphones or email. While workers who are on the go delivering your goods to your customers may not have access to computers or have the opportunity to be in an environment where they can see fixed digital displays.
It’s important, therefore, to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all tool to improve internal communication in manufacturing and, therefore, boost engagement. You will need to use a system for communicating with manufacturing employees that cut through and cater to these diverse needs.
DeskAlerts has multiple channels and tools to reach employees in a range of scenarios: digital signage displays can be used to communicate to employees who don’t have email or smartphone access during their work hours. Mobile notifications can be used to reach those who are on the road or work remotely or for production floor communication. Pop-up alerts can reach your desk-based employees and bypass the increasingly unreliable, overloaded email system.
Real-life examples of improved internal communication in manufacturing
Many organizations in the manufacturing industry already use DeskAlerts to improve their internal communications outcomes.
Communication in manufacturing case study #1 – Verso Corporation
The organization implemented DeskAlerts to provide a reliable way to keep employees informed about crucial information, including key systems outages and downtime.
Different departments within Verso Corporation use DeskAlerts to send information they need everyone to be aware of. This includes security teams based at the mill, safety, and IT departments. They use the system to send urgent information about safety issues and IT outages.
According to Mike Oehler, IT Specialist with Verso Corporation, DeskAlerts has drastically sped up the amount of time it takes to get event notifications out to employees.
“We mainly use DeskAlerts for mill safety events such as fire, chemical leaks, bad weather, and so on,” he said.
“We also use it for IT systems events such as IT systems outages and upgrades.”
“For most of our needs, DeskAlerts has the features we need and is easy to use,” he said.
Communication in manufacturing case study #2 – Catalyst Papers
The company needed a reliable solution for its emergency communications. Catalyst Papers turned to DeskAlerts for a solution using the API to send critical safety messages from Data Historian systems.
Jon Claude, Catalyst’s Manager of Manufacturing Systems, said that by monitoring sensors in various areas of the company’s production environment, they can trigger plant-wide messages if dangerous situations arise. This includes hazardous levels of sulfur dioxide or hydrogen dioxide.
“Safety and environmental stewardship are part of our core operating philosophies,” he said.
“The flexibility that the DeskAlerts API offers have allowed us the opportunity to strive for results in this category and ensure we’re taking all steps necessary to ensure the health and safety of our employees,” he said.
If you’re finding internal communications and employee engagement to be a challenge within your manufacturing organization, start by taking some small steps as outlined above.
By making internal communication a priority within your organization you’ll find that you strengthen the internal culture in your plants, factories, and outlets and your company will be more cohesive and better run.