How Industrial IoT Can Lead to Safer Manufacturing

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Posted by: CMR December 9, 2021 No Comments

The Internet of Things (IoT) and its related or connected devices continue to evolve at a rapid pace.

Businesses of all shapes and sizes, including manufacturers, are becoming increasingly more vulnerable to risks as these IoT devices, which are connected to a network, collect, share and act on customer information and data.

It’s been a tremendous cultural and economic boon that IoT devices are widely used and have become popular today in making personal and business lives easier and more secure. This includes using thermostats with heat sensors, security cameras with mobile access, and door locks with virtual encryption.

Many industries are also using IoT devices to improve efficiencies and safety. For manufacturers, the use of imagery and wearable devices has helped reduce their most disruptive business problems.

For example, some manufacturers use IoT sensors on machines to help pinpoint a failure or breakdown. These sensors can also be used for predictive maintenance sending an alert to the supervisor when a machine on the plant floor needs servicing. As a result, by moving away from a regular maintenance schedule, the business can improve its operations and lower its costs.

Other examples of IoT devices include connected cameras (imagery) to detect risk in workplaces. This can improve safety, quality, and productivity. In addition, wearables can be worn on the body of employees to help reduce the risk of injury and improve workers’ safety, and as a result, help lower the number of workers’ compensation insurance claims.

Water damage prevention technology can also be used to monitor water, temperature, humidity, and flow. This can reduce the risk of property damage and business interruption from accidental water events.

Industrial IoT and imagery

Many manufacturing facilities already use cameras in the workplace. IoT imagery software connects to existing cameras. It uses computer vision to identify safety risks and can trigger real-time alerts of unsafe behavior highlighting areas to promote a safer work environment.

Cameras with artificial intelligence software can also help improve compliance with safety protocols such as wearing safety equipment like vests, gloves and glasses, abiding by forklift zones and speed limits, ensuring proper clean up to prevent slip and fall accidents, and improving ergonomics.

Imagery can also be used to identify incidents as they happen, including slips and falls.

Wearable technology is smart manufacturing

It has become common for people to use wearable technology such as fitness trackers regularly to personally manage their overall health and wellbeing goals. However, in manufacturing, it has been an emerging practice for employers to use wearable technology to improve ergonomics, track employee location during a crisis, and detect falls.  Examples include belts that can track movement in the workplace and vests that monitor environmental conditions, air quality and noise levels.

In addition, gloves that record data on how workers use their hands and wrists on the job can help improve worker safety. Armbands that track how often a worker is pushing or pulling repetitively for their work can help reduce job-related injuries. And straps worn around the chest or other body part to monitor ergonomics or detect worker falls can assist in worker safety.

The Hartford’s IoT Innovation Lab

The Hartford’s IoT Innovation Lab sees connected devices as an opportunity to reduce potential insurance losses. It can also raise awareness around safety risks in manufacturing workplaces. The team uses these devices to predict and prevent losses and provide valuable insights to customers with data and information collected.

For example, a window assembly and warehousing business located in Kansas implemented a wearables IoT program from The Hartford and turned the data collected by the devices into actionable improvements to increase employee safety and benefits for customers.

Wearable devices were able to provide valuable insights on some problematic behaviors of employees, specifically around bending, reaching, and twisting. The data brought to light specific habits of employees that could be addressed and solved. The common theme was that sometimes just one small and simple fix can lead to big improvements for employee safety. Seeing the impact to employees through the data was crucial in influencing safety culture and driving change to reduce risk.

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Author: CMR

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