On a recent visit to a global metalworks facility on the East Coast, our team discovered something that forgers and steel operations, which are known for a work environment dealing with extreme heat, have in common with cold storage and frozen operations.
At first glance, you would assume that there is nothing these two environments have in common. After all, no one packs a bag the same way for a ski vacation and a beach vacation. And if challenged to identify a common solution between an ice cream storage facility and a rolled steel mill, we’d probably be hard-pressed to think of one. But there is a big one.
What they have in common is Gloves.
What Protects Your Hands Restricts Your Equipment Choices?
Extreme temperatures mean special requirements to protect workers’ hands. There are all kinds of gloves for all kinds of environments – “cold” and “hot” are an oversimplification. Gloves are custom designed for a long list of uses:
- Chloroprene gloves – protect against infectious fluids
- Lifting gloves – padded with wrist support
- Chemical Resistant gloves – from latex, nitrile or butyl
- Cut-resistant gloves – with polyurethane palms and fingers
- Cryogenic gloves – for protection up to -260 degrees
But one big drawback that derives from that protection is the inability to combine it effectively with modern technology options like scanners and tablets.
Scanners and mobile computers, like the one pictured on the right, require the user to manipulate a small keypad, even if on a limited basis. Tablets, rugged or otherwise, have touch-screen keyboards that may have much larger keys, but are essentially unusable with heavy-duty work gloves on the hands and fingers.
In order for workers in these environments to leverage these technologies they are faced with a requirement to remove their gloves, which is not something they could do in those environments without being entirely unproductive or endangering themselves in the process.
If the Headphone Fits, Keep the Gloves On
Voice collection, as we have shared in recent months, keeps popping up as a versatile solution that is overlooked. At the time we toured a facility, managers were in the process of sourcing new handheld scanners but were now doubting the wisdom of moving forward with the upgrades because of the requirement to wear gloves.
If your business has a type of work that requires gloves AND any type of repetitive tasks that require interaction with your systems, then Voice Collection is an option worth exploring. In the metal fabrication industry especially, injuries due to carelessness or inattentiveness are the top causes of injury. A Voice Collection system has a number of benefits that help maintain safety:
- Hands-free means gloves can stay on
- Voice interaction requires no extra manipulation of a handheld device
- Workers can remain focused on their task and not divide attention with a device
- Headsets don’t risk coming into contact with heated (or frozen) work material, preventing costly damage or replacement.
- Training times are much faster
Getting Up to Room Temperature on Voice Collection
One thing we have found as we explored recent opportunities with our existing clients and new prospects – voice collection is still well below its potential penetration AND its potential applications. We seem to run across a new possibility almost every week as we tour a different facility to listen to another business’ problem or project needs.
To get caught up on what we’ve learned over the last year, here are additional articles from 2018 that cover the basics of how it works, case studies (including one ice cream distributor!) and trends to look out for.
How would your business change if you rethought your processes with Voice Collection?