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  • Front End Communication with the Back End

    Hi! I am the general manager at a 64 lane bowling center. Currently we use 2 way radios to communicate calls to the mechanics. We have a lot of communication errors because it is so hard to hear. I feel like there should be an an easier way. I am hoping there is some kind of technology out there that helps the mechanics get the calls easier.

  • #2
    There are actually several ways to handle this. We used the radios during tournaments but like you found the noise to be an issue. We tried headphones which helped some so I guess my first question is; have you tried headphones.

    Alternatives could include text messages to the phones. Also an in house messaging system could be setup to display on a screen in the back A signaling system can alert the tech that an issue needs addressed. Hot keys could be set up for common calls to simplify messages. This could be done cheaply.

    All depends on what you would like to do and would find acceptable. Let us know how we may help.

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    • #3
      We have 3M Peltor LiteCom Plus noise-cancelling radio headsets for the mechanics to use. They use the same channels as typical 2-way handheld radios. They're not cheap, but the sound quality is far superior - the noise-cancelling works for the microphone too, so the desk will have an easier time understanding your mechanics. And you get the benefit of built-in hearing protection and the ability to set the ambient volume level for your own comfort. We can have a full house and I'm working in the pit of a machine in the middle of it and all that clatter is reduced to a whisper, yet still highly detailed so that I can hear pileups and other stuff going on halfway across the house. Highly recommended!

      I experience the same difficulties that you do - also as of a year ago, our radios are used by all staff, not just for the desk to communicate with the mechanic which has made it tougher for us to know whether there's a ball return on 23 or the customers on 23 are wanting to get their beers refilled. Training everyone to use the proper terminology when calling the mechanic and to speak slowly and clearly can help, but it only goes so far.
      Don't let those quick fixes become permanent ones; the job is not done until it is done right.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thank you both for the quick reply. ExMech - we do have headphones. Doesn't really help much. Do you know of a particular messaging system that works best? Is there an app out there specifically made for this?
        DBZodos - What radios would the 3M Peltor LiteCom be compatible with? Would the entire staff have to have these radios or can just the mechanics.

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        • #5
          Again, it all depends on how fancy you want to get. For example, you can use a simple Amazon Alexa device or google device or any smart phone to send a quick email to a google mail account. Then you can have a cheap computer in the back that has a web browser open to the email account. The counter help can say Alexa, send email to bla bla bla. Ball stuck on lane 1. The email would then show up on the back computer. A simple python script could monitor the email account and whenever a new message comes in, a lite or buzzer or both could activate to let the tech know something needs attention.

          Or, you could go more elaborate. You could set up a small computer in the front, could be an existing computer, that the counter help pulls up an app on. They could then send a quick message using a quick key like ball on lane and specify the lane number with the press of a single button. The message gets sent to the back using in house messaging and displayed similar to the other. You could also log the calls to help manage your call log. You could add additional functionality to this. The sky is the limit. Most of this is readily available but needs some adaption to work in your situation. I would be willing to help with this.

          Like I say, options are vast but some need adaption to your situation. Just need to figure a direction to travel. But like DBZ said, noise canceling has come a long way since I was in the business. So if you want to continue with voice communication, that would be something to look at. If you don'[t think voice is going to work out then text may be the route you need.

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          • #6
            A basic, old school, high wattage, no BS microphone loudspeaker/megaphone system is the way to go! It's how we had it in the center I started in.

            We're using a general 13 channel radio set in the center I'm currently working in, and it sucks. We're not a terribly busy center either, but we will get wall-to-wall peaks throughout the year. You just can't counteract the local noises of the machines with radios. Headsets are cumbersome & the truth is we take them off and leave them at the bench or desk too often. Pocket radios with an earbud option built in might be your plan B, but the same things are going to happen.

            Even when clipped onto our bodies (or when we have a headset on, INCLUDING ones with noise-cancelling technology like Bose), the units will pop off while we're in an odd, contorted spot in the machine. Then we can't hear calls. Front counter employees have to leave the counter to come back there, find us in the slew of machines, tell us what the call is after chewing us out about how they called our radio 4 times and go back up front where customers are waiting...it makes things stressful for your personnel (mainly the front end, but us in the back too) and everybody is irritated. You lose time/business by having customers waiting at the counter is what I'm saying. This consistent dilemma can be remedied though if the owner is willing to invest in it.

            If you set something up that's hard-wired, you won't regret it. You can get your mechanics to run speaker wire from the amplifier at the front end, through the drop ceiling, and to the back wall where there will be megaphones/speaker cabinets. The speaker/megaphone configuration should be installed something like this (mind you I don't know what your side aisle situation is):

            1st speaker-behind lane 8 facing slightly toward lane 6

            2nd speaker- behind lane 28 & aimed slightly toward lane 27

            3rd speaker-Behind lane 36 & aimed slightly toward lane 37

            4th speaker- behind lane 56 or 58 facing slightly in the direction of lane 60

            Makes of amplification to look into would be Fosgate, Peavy, Bogen, or Yamaha (just a few suggestions).
            • You'll need a microphone distributor box. Would be a good idea to get one with two XLR inputs.
            • Power supply surge/spike protection (if you don't have any more outlets left on the one you're using for your existing distributed audio/video system)
            • A pre-amplifier with at least a 4-channel output
            • A power amplifier. I would suggest one with 8-channel output, but you can go as low as 4 channels
            Also wouldn't hurt to have a back-end phone tapped into the business landline. They can call the front, the front can call them, calls can be transferred.

            It works out well for everybody involved & isn't over-complicated. It results in a positive investment.
            Where's Mrs. Pisses?

            Comment


            • #7
              The 3M Peltor headsets are FRS radios, so they should work with any common handheld 2-way radios that also use the FRS channels and subchannels. We have used them to communicate with Midland, Motorola and Retevis FRS radios. Only your mechanics would need the headsets, the rest of your staff can still use the handhelds.
              Don't let those quick fixes become permanent ones; the job is not done until it is done right.

              Comment


              • #8
                Kegel had a software program that tracks trouble calls. It also has a pager feature. Desk staff select the lane number, a window opens showing a selection of common calls or you can write your own call. Mechanic has a pager in his pocket. Simply reads the message and attends to the call. Eliminates the need for vocals completely.

                Comment


                • #9
                  That's a good, advanced set-up on Kegel's part. Makes the best alternative to an intercom/loudspeaker set-up I've heard of so far.

                  This reminds me of something we had when I worked for Brunswick. They had a proprietary program for calls (every Brunswick center around my area mandatorily had it's own desktop computer).

                  When a call was announced and you went out to clear up whatever the problem was, you had to go back to the mechanic's office and log the calls/stops on a screen that had several drop-down menus. This was for the purposes of what they called FPS, or Frames Per Stop. Had to do with monitoring each center's efficiency & to gauge how far behind the mechanics at a given center were on the "regional goals" of customer satisfaction. Not to mention it was a paper saving method.

                  You had to make sure the day's date was correct and select it, then select the lane #, then select the type of call, then select the most appropriate description from a list of common causes for that call (they were preset, but more could be added if necessary), then there was a comment box you could type the specifics into.

                  I would suspect that these days that anyone working in the back end of a Brunswick (Bowlero) would be clocked for the amount of time it took to clear a stop from the instant it was called.
                  Where's Mrs. Pisses?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Best system I ever worked with was a separate PA system with it's own amplifier and mic at the front desk. A 100 watt amp with 70 volt output and matching bullhorn speakers over the pinsetters is the best way to go.

                    You just need to train the front desk people to announce all calls twice, clearly, and concisely. First time gets the mechanics attention, second time makes sure they got it right.

                    Believe me, the radio stuff doesn't work worth a crap when the poop hits the impeller.

                    KISS, Keep It Simple Sucker!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jim_long View Post
                      Best system I ever worked with was a separate PA system with it's own amplifier and mic at the front desk. A 100 watt amp with 70 volt output and matching bullhorn speakers over the pinsetters is the best way to go.

                      You just need to train the front desk people to announce all calls twice, clearly, and concisely. First time gets the mechanics attention, second time makes sure they got it right.

                      Believe me, the radio stuff doesn't work worth a crap when the poop hits the impeller.

                      KISS, Keep It Simple Sucker!
                      That was essentially the set-up at the center I started in. The counter always repeated calls for me too. It cuts miscommunication and confusion.

                      "Give me heavy or give me death!"
                      Where's Mrs. Pisses?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        We used Carrier Pigeons and sometimes Smoke Signals LOL. We used same system Jim stated in Post # 10. Worked well. Pinchaser was also in an isolated "Back Room" which helped a lot of times.
                        Everything has to be Somewhere !!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mickeygm View Post
                          We used Carrier Pigeons and sometimes Smoke Signals LOL. We used same system Jim stated in Post # 10. Worked well. Pinchaser was also in an isolated "Back Room" which helped a lot of times.
                          Having a back end office can be a godsend. Don't have one where I work now, so it's full exposure to insanity & your privacy gets interrupted at random.


                          If you've got a back office, then mount a horn in the furthest upper corner in the room from the desk. Works marvelously.

                          Another option would be to set up a telegraph & teach all the employees Morse Code.
                          Where's Mrs. Pisses?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mickeygm View Post
                            We used Carrier Pigeons and sometimes Smoke Signals LOL. We used same system Jim stated in Post # 10. Worked well. Pinchaser was also in an isolated "Back Room" which helped a lot of times.
                            No you didn't, BrunsWick hadn't invented them yet when you were "chashin'".

                            Just kiddn' ya.......

                            I had a portable bullhorn with a 50 foot lead so I could take it outside with me when I was welding or gluing. That's when we did all are pit cleaning and rebuilds(summertime).

                            We use to buy a keg of beer off the truck, pack it in ice, pipe it up to the shop roof and invite the office girls from the print shop across the street up to enjoy the "Company".

                            But, really the bullhorn system works the best. No matter what's going on everybody will hear the call.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Two way radio with an earpiece covered by hearing protection. Allows you to keep volume low and save your hearing

                              Comment

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