Schick-Wilkinson Sword in Milford, Conn., the company's largest manufacturing facility for Schick razors, was faced with a problem when it came to notifying employees of scheduled breaks during their work shifts. Its various notification methods were not able to provide the necessary consistency and accuracy in alerting workers when breaks exactly began and ended. Many employees basically decided for themselves the timing of their breaks by glancing at a nearby clock — a time piece not always synchronized with other clocks in the large 400,000-square-foot plant.

In addition, the plant's notification system did not have much flexibility in sending targeted begin-end signals to the plant's individualized work segments. The Milford operations are divided about equally between a five-day and a seven-day work week, each 24 hours per day, with plant personnel not only working different shifts within those schedules but also in different departments or work cells.

Managing the comings and goings of Schick's 600-employee workforce within this intricate arrangement had become a real scheduling challenge.

The inconsistency, inaccuracy and lack of flexibility were causing widespread confusion, misunderstandings and a disruption in workflow, with many employees leaving early for breaks or returning late. That's when plant supervisor, Tony Sanzo, decided to look for a solution from Edwards Signaling & Security Systems, Cheshire, Conn.

Edwards' Millennium Event Driver Interface Software (MEDI), is a Windows-based package that allows users to manage and control a network of remote paging and signaling devices directly from a laptop or desktop computer. The MEDI software, for example, can be programmed to automatically signal work start and stop times, break times, or any other desired timed event. The software can also be configured to manually initiate tones, WAV audio files, or real time voice messages.

Sanzo was especially attracted by its turnkey capability, not to mention the fact that it would be much less expensive than if Schick tried to build a replacement system on its own. “More important, it eliminated all the chaos,” Sanzo said.