While many industries have been able to continue operating while keeping their workforce safe by shifting to remote working solutions during the pandemic, manufacturing and factory based-businesses have faced greater challenges.
They’ve had to move quickly to meet new health and safety requirements.
In the manufacturing sector, one of the biggest concerns around COVID-19 is the impact on employee safety, as well as supply chain disruption and revenue.
But much of the technology needed to keep employees safe and productive in these environments is already available and, in some cases, already being used.
Technology like the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics can provide a safer, more efficient manufacturing process. The main challenge now is identifying which of these technologies to prioritise.
Remote monitoring with IoT
For years, manufacturing has been under pressure to increase productivity, make processes more efficient and meet higher safety standards.
IoT can relieve that pressure by enabling proactive monitoring of equipment, and identifying faults before they become a problem.
This “Industrial” Internet of Things combines a network of sensors within equipment that provides real-time data on production and machine performance. This allows staff to be more proactive when it comes to repairs or maintenance.
Over time, these data insights can help spot trends in falling performance. Engineers can then schedule regular or proactive repairs and adjustments, helping to avoid potential delays caused by malfunctioning equipment, keeping employees safe and maximising efficiency.
Wearables or low-energy Bluetooth devices, for example, could be used to monitor the movement of workers on the factory floor. You can then identify points of congestion and come up with social distancing measures to keep it to a minimum.
Also, if you’re concerned about employees moving around hazardous areas, you can set up work “zones” that can send alerts or notifications directly to employees via a mobile device to ensure they are aware they are entering a hazardous area and to take precautions. These are all vital parts of creating a robust health and safety solution for your workforce.
Managing the return to work
An AI assistant can provide a single source of up-to-date information, 24/7, on shifts, factory health and safety policies, and social distancing, either via email updates or notifications on their smartphone or tablet, without your HR
Your employees can even check when others are due to take over, allowing for a smoother handover.
IoT and cloud connectivity are the building blocks of tomorrow's manufacturing workplace, and they’re transforming the way equipment is being used and monitored.
By uncovering problems before they escalate, processes can remain efficient thanks to proactive maintenance, rather than waiting for things to go wrong.
In the short term, with fewer people allowed on-site, these technologies can help supply chains to remain productive and efficient. Most importantly, these technologies are helping make a safer environment for employees.
As COVID-19 continues to impact society and our daily lives, now is the time to start building healthier, safer workplaces for the future.