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      • How Loud is Too Loud? Why You Shouldn’t Take Hearing Protection Lightly

        Published Dec 09 2016, 9:05 PM by Motorola Solutions

        Since 2004, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported that nearly 125,000 workers have suffered significant, permanent hearing loss. Hearing loss is the most commonly recorded occupational illness in manufacturing. In 2009 alone, BLS reported more than 21,000 hearing loss cases. (OSHA)

        When workers are exposed to high levels of noise for extended periods of time, it may result in permanent hearing loss. Once this damage has been done, neither surgery nor a hearing aid can rectify the injury. The following is an example of OSHA regulations on acceptable noise level exposure for workers.

        OSHA allows 8 hours of exposure to 90 dBA but only 2 hours of exposure to 100 dBA sound levels. National Institute for Occupational Health & Safety (NIOSH) would recommend limiting the 8 hour exposure to less than 85 dBA. At 100 dBA, NIOSH recommends less than 15 minutes of exposure per day.

        Even short term exposure to loud noise can cause a temporary change in hearing or a ringing in your ears (tinnitus). Most individuals have experienced this at concerts or even when using a lawn mower. These problems may go away within a few minutes or hours after leaving the noisy area, however, repeated exposures to loud noise can lead to permanent tinnitus and/or hearing loss. Imagine working in a loud environment where you are exposed to high noise levels 8 hours a day repeating this exposure for weeks, months, and even years.

        Not only can loud noise affect your hearing, but it can also lead to physical and psychological stress. This may have a negative impact on productivity and communication and may be a contributor to work accidents. Hearing loss also has a profound impact on individuals’ personal lives. Not being able to hear sounds that we take for granted such as your family and friends, traffic or television can lead to isolation and depression.

        To protect workers, OSHA has implemented a Hearing Conservation program designed to protect workers with significant occupational noise exposures from hearing impairment. The 3M brand employs Hearing Conservation Specialists and has been dedicated in helping employers in understanding and meeting their hearing conservation requirements. 3M has been providing hearing conservation solutions for noisy environments for years. In collaboration with 3M, Motorola Solutions is now offering a full portfolio of Heavy Duty Headsets. These headsets are optimized and certified to meet Motorola’s performance standards for APX and MOTOTRBO™ two-way radios.

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        These Protective Communication Products provide hearing protection for noise levels above 82dB while allowing users to hear their surrounding environment, and communicate thus increasing their overall safety and productivity. This portfolio is ideal for manufacturing, public safety, public works, utility workers and many other high noise environments where two-way radio communication is also required. We are helping to protect employees’ hearing so they can live a full and productive life well into their retirement and so employers can benefit greatly by significantly reducing their liabilities for work related injuries.

        By Nick Candotti, Director of Global Accessory & Energy Business, Motorola Solutions

        See the 3M Peltor heavy-duty headsets optimized and certified to meet Motorola’s APX and MOTOTRBO standards.

      • What the Next Generation Expects When Shopping

        Published Dec 09 2016, 9:05 PM by Motorola Solutions

        Technology is changing the way retailers go about their business. A big reason for this fast and most unconventional change is the Millennial Generation. Their new approach to shopping has been well documented. What is just starting to be examined, however, is the generation following the Millenials. Who are these people? Born after the Millenials, Generation Z is generally considered to be those born starting in either the mid to late 1990s or from the 2000s.

        According to the “Global Survey on Gen Z Girls' Reveals Digital Behavior” by Stardoll and Carat, around 20% of girls ages 12 and under regularly visit online shopping sites. An additional 13% of girls regularly purchase products online, regardless of their age. Another key area of impact is how retailers reach these consumers. According to a study “Consumers of Tomorrow – Insights and Observations about Generation Z,” Gen Z rejected traditional TV over streaming Video-on-Demand (VOD). And PCs (51%) and mobile phones (43%) were ranked as more important devices than TVs (3%).

        Taking a hypothetical trip to a current brick and mortar can highlight potential disconnects between the marketing promises of the virtual world and the reality of day to day operations. The youthful shoppers walk in educated, excited, and ready to make a purchase, because they’ve seen advertising, they’ve researched the products and the brands, and most importantly, they’ve discussed it with friends on social media. Their expectations can be ruined if they can’t find an associate when they have a question, or if they do ask a question and the associate doesn’t have an answer or the right information to share. Questions regarding merchandise simply must be answered instantly to keep Generation Z shoppers engaged and satisfied. It’s important for retailers to keep these shoppers interested and happy as they are not only comfortable shopping online, but have grown up with Amazon.com and other virtual retailers. In fact, nearly half of teenagers who use the Internet have made purchases online.

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        Make sure you have the shoes she wants in stock... or she's leaving for your competition.

        Retailers fight irrelevance with innovation and technology in order to meet the expectations of their customers, and these consumers of tomorrow not only expect it but demand the best technology for an immediate, personalized shopping experience. The shopping experience in the physical store needs to be just as interactive and personal as the online experience, so arming associates with mobile devices able to access all kinds of product information is the starting point. Retailers will take this experience to the next level by equipping their staff and their store with product videos, testimonials, social media interaction, special in-store promotions, and opportunities to actually customize the purchase. Starting relationships with shoppers, nurturing and growing an intertwining presence in the store with social media, and continuing to engage with Gen Z shoppers will help retailers focus on delivering an experience where the shopper experiences the brand where even the actual purchase transaction becomes part of the overall experience and fulfilled virtually. After all, that’s what this generation expects.

        Laura Wenzel is an Offer Manager, Retail Solutions at Motorola Solutions

        Learn more about Motorola’s Retail solutions and Staff Communications.

      • Five Reasons RFID is Ready for Primetime

        Published Dec 09 2016, 9:05 PM by Motorola Solutions

        It’s been more than 10 years since the term “RFID” burst into the public lexicon. Looking back at where we’ve come from and where we are today, RFID is clearly ready for prime time. Here are five reasons why, originally published by Business Solutions.

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        Reason 1: The buzz about RFID has subsided
        When all you hear is how important a technology will be, then it likely still has a lot to prove. RFID has become a standard component of system solutions. Customers investigating RFID no longer ask what it is and how it works. Rather, they talk about business problems and how to apply the technology to solve them.

        Reason 2: RFID has become an accepted tool in the toolbox
        RFID is now routinely applied alongside complementary technologies like wireless, Bluetooth, bar code scanning and ERP systems. It is integrated into solutions like IT asset tracking, file management, specimen tracking, retail inventory management, and more. Many users who benefit from these solutions don’t even know they incorporate RFID. And yes, that is a good thing … it means RFID just works.

        Reason 3: The RFID toolbox is big
        Today’s RFID offers an extensive variety of options and capabilities to deliver real problem-solving flexibility. Need long-range tracking in the field? Try an active RFID system. Want a cost-effective system for tracking assets on a loading dock? Use a UHF-based portal system with passive tags. Managing a retail store shoe inventory? Apply RFID labels to your inventory and cycle count with a handheld RFID mobile computer.

        Reason 4: The tools just keep coming
        RFID reader and tag form factors continue to evolve – extending the benefits to more industries, applications and environments. From accessories that transform handheld mobile devices into RFID readers, to overhead reading solutions that make full automation possible – businesses are finding it easier than ever to find the right tool for the right problem at the right time in the right place.

        Reason 5: And the tools keep getting better
        RFID industry standards now ensure a level of interoperability and performance that reduces your investment risk. Today’s RFID can be wireless, rugged, sleek – even virtually invisible behind walls and ceilings. Not only are RFID readers, tags and software applications more compact, more powerful, and easier to use, but they are also more affordable, higher quality and higher performing.

        Chris Schaefer is Sr. Director, Global Market Development, Data Capture Solutions for Motorola Solutions

        Read the full article from Business Solutions (free registration required).

        Learn more about today’s RFID solutions by visiting Motorola Solutions RFID.

      • Open vs. Closed: Making Voice Picking Systems More Flexible and Less Costly

        Published Dec 09 2016, 9:05 PM by Motorola Solutions

        Over the past decade, we’ve begun to see a significant transformation in communications that has been largely driven by the advent of open standards. An everyday example for me is my car’s navigation system. I purchased it five years ago for $2,000 and was thrilled at the prospect of never having to drive around aimlessly as I visited unknown locations.

        The feeling of euphoria quickly vanished as I discovered the system was clumsy to use and required expensive software updates to reflect the ever changing maps and roadway systems. The only thing that car navigation system could run was their own proprietary software … meaning I had underutilized processing power that I had paid for but couldn’t enjoy any additional benefits. The navigation system was only available when I was in that specific car. It didn’t benefit me when I was driving my other car (and no, my other car is not a forklift as I joked in my previous blog, or navigating an unfamiliar city by foot.

        At the same time, I found several innovative navigation applications on my new Google-based (open standard) cell phone. The applications have significantly better functionality than my vehicle based solution. The maps are continually updated and reflect the latest and greatest information. Plus, that same application can run on different devices like tablets, phablets and smartphones, giving me lots of choice and flexibility. And obviously my cell phone can be used for much more than just turn by turn directions – reducing the total amount of hardware I need to purchase for my daily life and allowing me to spend my paycheck on other critical items.

        Similarly, I have seen this happening in the warehouse industry where voice-directed and multi-modal solutions are revolutionizing warehouse picking, replenishment, and other fulfillment processes. Voice-enabled solutions promote enhanced productivity by allowing hands-free picking and task confirmation; multi-modal systems add bar code scanning and other data capture and response technologies (screens, keyboards, etc.) to assure accuracy and provide instant information access.

        When I consult with professionals in warehouses that have deployed these systems, I find a large majority were initially pleased with them. While they appreciate the productivity gains from their voice-directed solutions, but not so much their proprietary system vendor relationships. According to an Aberdeen Group report, 80 percent of warehousing operations that have deployed voice-driven systems are planning to keep and upgrade them, particularly looking to add flexibility and process customization. At the same time, though, almost as high as 76 percent are willing to consider using a different vendor due to a variety of factors, many tied to dissatisfaction stemming from the escalating costs, deployment complexities and workflow inflexibilities from their legacy systems.

        Mounting Frustration

        This may seem like a dichotomy, but it’s really not. I find that in most cases, warehouse managers are observing the fast paced innovation of open approaches in technology and are becoming increasingly frustrated with being locked into closed systems in their warehouse operations. Why have so many organizations opted for these closed systems? In the early days of voice-directed technology, closed proprietary systems were basically the only solutions available. If warehousing organizations wanted to make use of voice-directed systems, they had few choices.

        Today, however, these solutions are proving to be overly costly because the proprietary systems approach often comes with steep annual licensing fees and more pricing leverage for the vendor for core hardware, accessories, and software. Equally disturbing is the fact that closed systems limit access to the newest innovations from the burgeoning community of third-party application developers.

        Open Systems in Warehouse Operations
        Non-proprietary systems bring the same kinds of advantages to voice-picking and multi-modal warehouse solutions. Open systems offer warehousing professionals the ability to choose the best, most customizable devices and applications to fit your specific requirements. No longer are you proscribed from using innovative software that won’t run on your proprietary hardware. You can select hardware and configure software applications that provide the enhanced flexibility and customization that warehouse operations need to increase efficiency and lower total cost of ownership.

        Open systems can also lead to greater success in the marketplace. According to the Aberdeen Report, “if companies who are committed to voice could find a way to make their software infrastructure more flexible then they could gain a further competitive advantage over companies that continue to live with closed, proprietary custom solutions.”

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        Open Systems Leader

        At Motorola Solutions, we have long been a leader in, and champion of, providing a broad and flexible hardware portfolio for voice and multi-modal solutions. This commitment is reflected in the long-standing relationships we’ve fostered with several leading voice and multi-modal picking software providers, each with their own unique approach and market specialization. Learn more about the latest solutions available to you from Motorola and our innovative partners in voice and multi-modal technology, and see how together we are helping manufacturing, supply chain, and warehouse operations pick a new direction.

        Mark Wheeler is the Director of Supply Chain Solutions - North America for Motorola Solutions

        Read other blogs by supply chain expert Mark Wheeler.

        Are you ready to pick a new direction now? Motorola Solutions is ready to help you improve your operation.