By Michael O’Conner, Vice President, Radio Channel Sales, Asia Pacific and Middle East, Motorola Solutions
The ASEAN Economic Community’s long term vision to become the world’s fourth largest economy is highly positive and reflects the region’s fast growing consumer markets which are supported by a population of more than 600 million people.
Growing wealth in the region is also driving an increased demand for road freight services to support the exchange of goods between nations.
With demand for road freight set to increase, logistics organisations are on the lookout to improve the way their supply chains and logistics networks function. The overall number of drivers and trucks in the region is expected to grow by up to 645 percent by 2050 and logistics firms are striving to ensure their drivers have the right level of safety by providing them with resilient communications systems.
Safe, effective, and hassle-free
In any road freight or operations environment where employees are required to keep their heads and hands free, voice communication remains the most popular and essential way to share information.
Most freight drivers today have access to a smartphone but the digital two-way radio is still the most effective tool to ensure safety and productivity.
The most obvious benefit is the ease of use while driving. Drivers don’t have to enter a passcode, look up a phone number and wait for the person they are dialling to pick up their call.
Two-way radios open up immediate and seamless communication to the right people with the push of a button.
Like smartphones of today, two-way radios have also evolved from once being known merely as ‘walkie-talkies’ to full-featured digital devices that come equipped with improved functionality thanks to newly designed applications.
Modern two-way radios are enabled with a range of digital mobile radio (DMR) apps to allow personnel to do much more than just communicate verbally with each other. With new and compatible business apps for DMR systems, drivers can use their radio devices to raise an alarm, locate or, monitor the health of co-workers, track sensitive equipment or deliveries and even share updates with users outside of the radio network using broadband.
One device to do it all
Digital mobile radios today come with a range of applications that are routinely used by freight drivers. GPS mapping capabilities allow drivers to alert the freight company’s headquarters about accidents and roadblocks on planned routes allowing switchboard operators to find alternate routes and communicate changes quickly.
Busy workloads can also be simplified and made more efficient with job ticketing applications that can help drivers track the status of each delivery during busy days. For example, if a driver has a large number of deliveries in a single day, he merely has to use the app to send a message back to base to update that a delivery is complete.
Furthermore, staff at headquarters can create, assign, and monitor ongoing jobs through the radio network to manage new tasks more efficiently. New job assignments sent out to drivers over the network and can be accepted or declined by a driver with the push of a button.
DMR applications are also enabling improvements to safety standards and response times with applications such as ‘Man Down’ helping to alert control rooms when drivers or field workers are faced with potential dangers. If a driver’s radio is tilted beyond a 90 degree angle for a pre-defined period of time, an alarm is activated and a signal is sent back to the control room, with the radio’s GPS tracking system helping to pinpoint where the user is located
Using the same GPS function, another app can automatically detect whether a truck is speeding and send an alert back to the control room so a colleague can ask the driver to slow down.
Why would a logistics organisation choose to invest in digital mobile radios for their workforce when smartphones and other internet-enabled mobile devices are growing in popularity in ASEAN?
The two-way radio will continue to be the most secure and user-friendly device for workers in many heavy industries including truck drivers, but businesses also have the option to extend the reach of their radio communications networks with smart applications including WAVE.
These applications are enabling greater numbers of workers to connect with radio communications regardless of the device they carry – from smartphones, to tablets, desktop phones and PCs. For example, using the WAVE Advanced Desktop Communicator allows a traditional PC to operate as a fully-featured dispatch console, helping to provide visibility over an organisation’s complete communications environment.
The rise in new smart applications not only extends the value and capability provided by radio networks, but enables businesses to save on the costs of augmenting their communications networks in a way that returns immediate benefits to boost efficiency, productivity while enhancing customer service levels.