BMW Tackles Communication Overload

Jan. 7, 2011
Automaker implements mobile integration into its Spartanburg facility, consolidating network features onto single device.

In this always-connected digital world, more and more of us are suffering from some level of communication overload. Just think of how cluttered most peoples email in-boxes are. Now multiply that by the dizzying number of communications methods that are in place at most manufacturing facilities.

Theres the office phone, theres e-mail and voice mail. Theres instant messaging and text messaging. Theres conferencing via voice, video and Web. Theres VoIP, IPT, TDM, PSTN and countless more acronyms for creative ways to speak to someone.

In short, theres a myriad of technologies that manufacturers use to be more productive and responsive. But along the way, its created a new form of clutter. Its for this reason that German automaker BMW recently went to great lengths to cut the cord and simplify its dozens of communications technologies at its manufacturing facility in Spartanburg, S.C.

BMW worked with communications provider Sprint to implement mobile integration for its employees throughout its operations. The transition required migrating from its legacy PBX system, while combining communications services to reduce the number of devices employees were dealing with.

The mobile integration overhaul extends the corporate network features to mobile devices, enabling employees in every phase of the facility, from the offices all the way to the engineering and production workers on plant floor, to be equally productive wherever they may be.

It allows for mobility, but more importantly it saves us time, says Alonzo Seaborne, BMW Americas region network operations manager. Our line side production people all have these devices and our engineers are quickly and readily available to the company, our suppliers and our customers.

Sprint established call control features, which allows the facility to establish profiles and define specific phone restrictions. For example, some users may be limited to time-of-day access or to intra-company calls on their mobile device. The network allows for changes to be quickly applied to one or many types of devices.

According to Seaborne, BMWs Spartanburg facility reduced the number of desk sets, while consolidating Land Mobile Radio, paging, text messaging and automated system alerting onto one device.

Its allowed us to be able to eliminate redundant infrastructure and gain efficiencies, says Seaborne. Its nice not to have people walking around with two or three different mobile devices in your pocket.

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