Team communication for nut processing is important to improve efficiency and keep customer lots separated. Sena can configure workplace solutions for demanding processing applications. Strain Farming Company uses Sena Tufftalk M with integrated hearing protection and MeshPort Blue to keep teams connected and working efficiently. Learn how Sena helps Strain Farming communicate better and can do the same for you.
Located in Northern California, Strain Farming Company grows, harvests and shells a variety of nuts including pistachios, almonds and walnuts. The walnut hulling process specifically has a lot of moving parts that take place in Strain’s large processing facility where hearing protection is a requirement.
“It’s an area where if you are not wearing protection, you’ll lose your hearing,” explained Derick Strain of Strain Farming Company. “At first, we just had everyone wearing earplugs, but they had no way to communicate other than hand signals or yelling at the top of their lungs, which even then we really couldn’t hear each other.”
In addition to protecting his workers’ hearing, Strain needed to improve communication practices in the process and began researching communication solutions that could be integrated with PPE. Strain researched a variety of options and encountered high price points, complex systems and a range of unnecessary features. When Strain consulted with his team members, one of his workers recommended Sena.
“He told me Sena might have something, so that’s what led me to look into Sena,” said Strain. “I saw that they had a variety of products and one of their new lines at the time was Tufftalk M which had the mesh capability, and that’s what we bought. It was a timely arrival as well, just in time for this year’s harvest.”
Strain invested in the Over-the-Head Tufftalk M model which offers robust and reliable mesh network communication and advanced noise control with a NRR of -26dB under ANSI S3.19-1974. The 26-decibel noise attenuation was stronger hearing protection than other models that Strain had researched and while he liked the protection, he wanted to focus on communication.
“We’re always talking back and forth, there are trucks coming in and out with product all the time, so communication is everything to be able to keep track. We also have to compartmentalize different lots for different growers, so we have communication needs inside and outside,” explained Strain. “Being able to use the phone while multitasking around noise was a must for me.”
Phone connectivity offered with Tufftalk M also offered that capability for Strain, easing the ability for his team to be able to communicate operations outside of the building as well as inside the building to streamline and sync up processes. The team saw an immediate improvement in efficiency with the use of Tufftalk M.
“Rather than having to physically see somebody or walk outside, they could just talk. It seemed like there was unused or wasted energy from going in and out of buildings as well as having to basically learn sign language.”
Strain initially ordered a dozen Tufftalk M headsets to test them in the facility. Because the processing facility is extremely large and is constructed with a lot of steel, they chose to strengthen the headsets’ mesh network with MeshPort Blue adapters. The MeshPort Blue adapters were placed strategically throughout the facility to enhance the mesh network and improve communication.
“We got the MeshPort Blues for repeatability around the building, we also have a couple of workers in the office who are not around noise, but I still wanted to have communication with them. We got them headsets that connect to MeshPort Blue,” added Strain. “It made a pretty big difference, once we planned out where to put the adapters it worked great.”
Sena MeshPort Blue adapters seamlessly integrate standard Bluetooth headsets with Mesh Intercom networks with Sena’s unique Bluetooth-to-Mesh conversion technology. This allows Strain’s office workers to use any Bluetooth headset to communicate to the teams using Tufftalk M. The adapters can also be positioned to act as repeaters in the way that Strain incorporated them throughout the facility.
“If we were to do this without these Tufftalk M headsets, we would be much less efficient and have to complete checks and balances with hand signals and walking and and out of the building,” commented Strain. “It’s a pretty big plant, so if somebody has to walk 100 or 150 feet to be able to make eye contact with someone and get on the same page it takes time. Often there are questions and other things that need said, that gets tricky. There are not enough hand signals to be able to communicate everything you want to in order to do the job. With Tufftalk M, we were able to get each job done to our specific requirements.”
“Everybody seems to be unanimous in thinking that this was a great addition, especially those who were at the plant in the year before and saw us run without them,” said Strain. “It was basically a godsend. Having the mesh network, I had everyone learn how to mute the microphone so it’s silent when we aren’t talking.”
Strain’s team members are able to listen to music through their Tufftalk M headsets while they work or use their phones through the headsets without interruption from background noises.
The addition of the Tufftalk M headsets to the Strain Farming Company’s nut processing plant has improved communication and boosted productivity while protecting worker hearing in the noisy plant.
“I would definitely recommend the Tufftalk M to somebody who needs more frequent communication,” concluded Strain.
About Sena Technologies
Established in 1998, Sena Technologies is a global leader in Bluetooth communication innovations and created the Mesh Intercom system. Sena offers Bluetooth- and Mesh-enabled headsets and communications solutions that provide safe, hands-free communication, reliability and efficiency for a host of industrial and outdoor worksite environments. To learn more about Sena solutions for industrial applications, visit senaindustrial.com.