Warehouse Communications, Voice over IP(VoIP) or Push to Talk?

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If you are in the warehousing business and need to communicate with your employees, this is the blog for you.  Here are a few questions to get you started.

  • Have you outgrown a traditional paging system for communication within the warehouse?
  • Do you need to talk to individual workers during a shift without having them return to the office for instructions?
  • Would you like to take advantage of your existing RF or WIFI network in the warehouse to implement a voice system?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, there are two viable communication options that you may want to investigate: Push-to-Talk (PTT) and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).  Although they are somewhat similar, Push-to-Talk may be the better overall choice for a warehouse environment.  Here is some information about both technologies so you can decide for yourself.

To better understand PTT and VoIP, we must first consider how traditional telephone technology works.  Traditional voice calls are transmitted over full duplex, which allows you to listen and talk at the same time rather than waiting.  Half duplex communication allows you to listen or talk – not both- at one time.  Think of it as audio texting.  Over a WiFi network, voice calls are half-duplex transmissions.

warehouse voip phone

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

Using VoIP over a half-duplex WIFI network in the warehouse is similar to communicating using a walkie-talkie.  This may convince some users, especially those who are used to the traditional way a call is handled, that VoIP is unusable.  Others, who adapt well to new technology, may be able to work around this limitation without a problem.

Now, if you’ve heard that VoIP can provide great savings compared to the use of older telephone technology and equipment, you’re right – in today’s office environments.  In the warehouse, however, VoIP needs to be transmitted over the RF or WIFI infrastructure.  With this in mind, adding VoIP to an existing wireless network can have some significant issues if it is not implemented correctly, as data can take priority and bandwidth from voice users.

Push-to-Talk (PTT)

PTT involves less bandwidth than VoIP, as it is designed to run on a half-duplex WIFI network.  It is user friendly, with fast setup of a session (less than a second) and no dialing involved.  In fact, users can even define multiple “talk groups,” which are pre-defined groups of co-workers, to allow a broadcast with private walkie talkie response.

Here are some other benefits of PTT:

  • PTT is compatible with 802.11a/b/g wireless infrastructure with flexible security (Open, WEP, WPA).
  • Many handheld computer manufacturers are including PTT software on their units, such as Motorola’s Team Express software.  Other software solutions include HipVoice and ITalkie.
  • Some solutions can be integrated with existing 2-way radios.
  • Users need just one device to access data and voice capability (although you may need to add a headset).
  • No PBX or server integration is required.
  • Warehouse conversations should be short: less distractions, more worker up-time.

In summary, adding voice to your existing WIFI or RF network can improve worker productivity with a minimal investment in software and hardware.  Why not give us a call today to see how we can help you implement the right voice solution for your warehouse environment.

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