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Watson Consoles Blog

May 15, 2018 Future-Proof

Here’s Why Your PSAP Should Care About Pencil Trays

Here’s Why Your PSAP Should Care About Pencil TraysIf you are a public safety communications professional, you know the best dispatch console workstations are designed, engineered and built to meet the distinct needs of multiple groups – dispatchers, IT specialists and facility managers. Of all the unique features on a 911 workstation, a pencil tray is rarely among them. So, you might ask, “Why is this relevant to my PSAP?” Here is why.

Focus on improving the user experience 

Anyone who will sit behind, wire cables through, or be responsible for the lifetime maintenance of a dispatch console desk should care about the details – design, materials, electronics, and joinery. More so, the manufacturer should be tuned in to these details. The right materials in the right applications ensure optimal function and product longevity.

continuous improvement

You may not have a piece of storage with one of our pencil trays. However, the story behind a recent change to this accessory exemplifies Watson Consoles’ focus on the details and commitment to continuous improvement. 

Watson team members reviewing console workstation sketch

Continuous improvement assures customers benefit by receiving products/services that meet their needs, and that the provider delivers consistent performance. Internally, the organization will benefit from increased job satisfaction, improved morale, and improved operational results (reduced scrap and increased efficiency).

Commitment to ISO 9001 and 14001 creates 3rd party accountability

ISO 9001 is focused on meeting customer expectations and delivering customer satisfaction.

  • Requires focus on customer experience.
  • Evaluates whether the Quality Management System is effective.
  • Forces organizations to identify and implement improvements.

ISO 14001 is a standard for an Environmental Management System (EMS).

  • Create a plan to minimize the environmental impact.
  • Monitor the effectiveness of the system against objectives.
  • Continually analyze the results and improve your systems.

The pencil tray project 

Nicole Leraas, Product Engineer - Watson Consoles

with Watson Consoles’ design engineer, Nicole L.

Q: How did improving the pencil tray become a priority for the product team?
A: I started this project right after I began working here because I was sort of surprised by the original pencil tray we were using. Even though it was a standard solution that many top furniture makers use, it just didn’t seem to match the quality of the products Watson makes.

Q: It sounds like you initiated it, then?
A: Yes. I took it on as an extra project and won support from the team.

Q: What improvements were you trying to make?
A: There were a couple of details that I knew could be improved. The three-piece deign was cumbersome for the user. As I began looking into alternatives, I was able to find a one-piece tray that solved the user experience issue. Plus, the new design uses less plastic and is a greener material.

 Nicole’s recommendations resulted in these product improvements:

Now made from Green List Polypropylene, the original tray was made from Yellow List ABS.

The original three-piece tray (tray plus hangers) often came apart when jostled and end-users had to clip it back. Now, a one-piece tray remains in place.

The old tray often arrived at the Watson factory damaged from the supplier or would shatter when dropped, which was a real problem. The new tray is super tough (you can drive a car over it).

Q: Is the freedom to affect change in this way important to you, as a product engineer?
A: Yes, it is easy for companies to lose sight of improvement opportunities like this. Being encouraged to seek out opportunities like the tray project is one of the things that makes Watson unique.

Q: Do you have any other improvement projects in your queue?
A: I haven’t taken on another one yet. We’ve been focused on Mercury console enhancements and improvement have been a key part of those initiatives. It is one of my SMART goals to find another environmental footprint related project. So hopefully I can start that soon!

Nicole L at work on another Consoles' project

Why this project matters TO US

People come to work at Watson because its a company where someone can affect a positive change in months rather than years. Making products better AND more sustainable really happens. This is one of the benefits of manufacturing right here in Poulsbo, WA. We have visibility and hands-on control over design, materials, manufacturing, and fit-and-finish.

WHY THIS PROJECT should matter to your psap

The team at Watson Consoles pays attention to the impact design choices have on your job and the world you live in. This includes the super-strong and environmentally sound composite core material on storage cabinets and the cold-rolled steel on framing. And holds true right down to the life cycle of the pencil tray, cup holder, and connecting hardware.

And while you may not be specifying a pencil tray in your 911 dispatcher storage, Nicole’s attention to detail and follow-through on the improvement of a seemingly innocuous accessory is worth noting. Why? Because that level of attention goes into everything we do.Watson Consoles' 911 dispatcher products - workstations, tables and lockers


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