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Untwisting communications across the supply chain

By Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor
July 19, 2011

Back in the dark ages of communication – say five years ago before the advent of the smart phone – business travelers passed through airports with more devices on their belt than a boy scout. There were cell phones, iPods, pagers, digital cameras and a laptop in the briefcase. Each served a distinct purpose. Today, many of us have combined most or all of those functions into one smart phone.

Enterprise communications are still like that. Down on the shop floor, a supervisor might have a two-way radio to communicate with employees, plus a pager and a cell phone. Ditto the mobile worker. Each of those devices has a distinct purpose. None of them talks to the other. You could say we’re all twisted up.

Twisted Pair Solutions wants to untwist business communications, according to James Mustarde, the company’s marketing director. I spoke to Mustarde last week about an intriguing concept that uses software to allow all the different telephony and communication devices we might have in the enterprise to communicate with one another.

“Communications technology is a mixed bag,” he says. “We began with landline-based telephony. Two-way radio systems came of age after World War II. We moved to mobile phones, digital telephony and VoIP. Today, smart phones, iPads, tablets and Skype capture the essence of what communications technology is today.”

If you’re a large enterprise, he adds, the chances are good that you have some or all of the above at your disposal, depending on when you added to and updated your communications systems. “The problem,” Mustarde says, “if that you can’t dial into a tablet or two-way radio. There’s a limitation to how these devices communicate across a broader network. The functionality is limited to the device your worker has inherited.”

Twisted Pair’s solution allows all those devices to communicate with one another. The company’s initial target was emergency workers, like firefighters. The company is now targeting logistics companies that may have mobile field workers, logistics employees like truck drivers and warehouse workers who are doing pick and pack functionality.

“Our message is that you don’t have to dump the communications technologies you already have,” he says. “Rather, we’re providing a software platform that will allow those technologies to communicate with one another regardless of the device.”

It’s a fascinating concept, especially as warehouses, distribution centers and factories put more emphasis on mobility and mobile communications.

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Executive Editor

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. More recently, Trebilcock became editorial director of Supply Chain Management Review. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

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Article Topics

Blogs · Automation · Twisted Pair · All topics

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484 or email [email protected].

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