When we discuss communication in the workplace, all sorts of things can be conjured up. Anything from email communication to face-to-face communication from plant managers to the manufacturing floor.
But, what is often overlooked is the basics of communication with the plant floor in its entirety.
We tend to think of communication as strictly a one-on-one process. We send an email, we make a call, we compose a text. Therefore, we have communicated. However, in the manufacturing plant, information can be the saving grace that is the difference between productivity and breakdown.
The challenge can be in harvesting a communication method in a way that is efficient and that reaches a mass without being cumbersome and requiring a massive amount of time wasted.
ure, sending a mass text to the plant floor regarding the status of a line could work, but when you are dealing with multiple shifts of the instant need to communicate, people on the floor may never see the message.
When your entire facility is informed is becomes easier to develop the flow of required information between the various tasks on the factory floor. Operators immediately know the status of connected systems; material handlers understand the condition of inventory and managers along with service technicians can know the status of critical services.
One way to accomplish this upper level of manufacturing floor communication is by using marquee displays on the factory floor.
Facilities have been using such displays for years now to connect directly with existing controls structures and display relevant data to all within sight of the display. One drawback to specialized marquee displays is cost. Another is the fact that they can be very limited in the scope of information they provide.
Marquee displays also require specific software programs and programmable databases broadcasting to specific devices.
Overcoming those challenges may be easier than one might expect.
The use of LED sign boards is one option that can overcome the expense hurdle. These sign boards display pre-programmed data configured to the needs of the facility. While
they solve the affordability issue, drawbacks are that they are considered fixed data boards and will only display a pre-determined data set. The readability of the sign is impacted by the size and distance from the board to the intended reader.
One often overlooked, and more palatable option is the use of preplaced television screens anchored around the factory floor displaying a digital marquee.
This digital marquee is a six-foot wide high definition display mounted to the ceiling of the factory connected to a compact personal computer or laptop. Unlike the traditional marquee or other display system – like the LED – the digital marquee is powered by Windows™, is fully graphical, displays in 1080p UHS and communicates directly with your existing programmable logic controller (PLC) systems using Ethernet/IP.
High definition allows for enhanced display of graphics that are visible across the plant floor. Operators, managers and logistics suppliers can see, hear and rectify production issues as soon as they occur. Because units used for display also have sound capability, sounds can also be programmed directly into the system to audibly notify staff about a given situation.
Graphical displays can change as required to display relevant data as it occurs. This can include, but not be limited to the following information:
Time clock displays during breaks
Part pictures shown when parts are required
Fault information broadcast on the displays
Up to 10 individual screens per system with countless variables to inform personnel.
When the system is not in use – know as the off-state – the graphics display can show the corporate logo fading periodically allowing the screens to protect their integrity while still displaying information that is graphically appealing.
Unlike the traditional marquee system, the digital marquee does not require special software or interfaces to access a plant’s PLC network. The digital marquee can utilize the existing information being displayed on the HMI or robot systems to be broadcast directly on the digital marquee.
Another benefit of the digital marquee is the use of application-based software which allows echoing of data being displayed on the digital marquee to also be displayed on a tablet or smartphone.