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We live in a world today where you must have a phone in your pocket to stay connected to the world through your email, text messaging and social media alerts. Once in a while, you actually make a voice call with this handy device.

We now see workers and managers in the bakeries using their phones instead of the old public address systems and two-way radios. As the cell phone becomes widely accepted in the production environment, how can we find better ways to use the device as a tool to do our jobs on the floor?

A few years ago, app developers started creating everything from games to useful tools for business professionals. More recently, some creative minds started building apps that we as bakery operators and engineers can use every day. The tools on your phone can save time and drive faster decisions.

 Although you can use Android phones, Windows phones, BlackBerrys and iPhones, the most useful one comes from Apple. In my opinion, the iPhone seems to have more useful apps for all of us, and it seems much easier to use than the others.

For example, you can use the camera and video functions on the phone to capture all sorts of helpful information. A photo of a mechanical, product or processing issue can be immediately sent to others for help in solving a problem.

Video is your best friend when you are conducting a CSI on a situation in the plant. Catching a strange action or failure on video allows you to review it later, analyze what happened, and many times, find a solution for the issue.

Have you ever been out on the floor and needed to check the level of a machine or conveyor? No more trips back to the shop: Just pull out your phone and use one of the handy electronic levels that you have downloaded. You can also use your phone to make vibration and noise assessments on equipment. These apps can record data that can be downloaded or emailed for further study.

Need a stopwatch to calibrate proofer, cooler or oven times? How about converting Fahrenheit to Celsius, or any other oddball measurement conversion? It just takes a couple of thumb clicks on the screen. There are clicker-counters you can use so that you don’t lose count when trying to determine rates on the line, and don’t forget the ever-handy-dandy flashlight function.

Task managers, to-do lists and voice memos can also be very helpful when you are in the middle of something and don’t have writing utensils at your disposal. I have even found a “Note to Self” app where I can quickly jot something on to the screen and the message is sent to my email inbox. Whiteboard apps on your phone can be used to sketch something to share with coworkers where sheer visualization doesn’t work.

If your company allows you to have your cell phone on the floor, make sure you use all of the functions available to you to work smarter, not harder.