According to Comparitech, businesses in the manufacturing sector invested $183 billion into IoT in 2017. The reason for this is not farfetched.
Safety managers have realized that cybersecurity is a top priority when integrating technology into manufacturing processes and the Industrial IoT (IIoT) is a vital tool that can boost manufacturing productivity while also ensuring improved consistency levels and reduced rates of errors.
Here’s How the IIoT Improves Worker Safety
The Integration of IoT Sensors with Computer Vision
A lot of IoT configurations in manufacturing sites sports sensors that progressively accumulate data and assist managers with improved decision making.
These IoT sensors have the capacity to monitor trends in order to help business administrators in determining which processes are effective, as well as areas that need improvement.
In terms of safety, businesses are beginning to buy into the benefits of IIoT manufacturing sensors and computer vision to facilitate better staff welfare. The aim of computer vision is to function in the same manner as the human brain and eyes.
It identifies variations between environments and scenarios, then acts responsively. A number of computer vision systems analyze data from IIoT sensors and then search for any irregularities. When it detects them, it will automatically try to halt the industrial machine in order to avoid accidents.
Other computer vision software screen for errors in items. By detecting these defects, it can quickly curb the latent damage caused to employees who manage those products at later phases in an assembly line, and also to the end-users.
Equipping employees with high-tech wearables
Depending on their individual roles, most manufacturing workers usually use protective gear like goggles and high-visibility vests. This equipment helps to ensure their safety in the workplace.
Although IIoT manufacturing wearables are not intended to replace traditional individual protective gear, they will, however, complement them.
Modern IIoT safety wearables are being designed to enhance the visibility of workers, or track elements such as physiological data, noise, posture, temperature variations, exposure to chemicals, harmful gases, humidity levels, etc.
These wearable gadgets can also measure the health parameters of employees such as drop or increase in blood pressure level, stress levels, and other factors that can affect their health. When the early symptoms of health issues are detected by the wearable gadgets, the necessary data is sent to the health and safety officers almost instantly.
It is the duty of the health and safety officers to take the necessary precautionary measures. By doing this, the safety of workers posted in remote sites can be guaranteed.
In addition, some companies have wearable devices that feature fall detection alerts or notify workers about a potential collision from powerful equipment. The information from the sensors is transmitted to a central database and interface that executives can utilize to monitor the general safety trends.
In like manner, the Real Wear brand produces connected safety glasses that sport augmented reality features. This gadget provides workers with real-time feedback that enables them to comply with recommended safety practices at work.
For instance, they can call for assistance, go through checklists, or even access visual references of complex procedures. Furthermore, these glasses have also been designed with a voice-recording feature that will enable individuals to document the procedures they undergo and giving them more time for other productive things.
The Installation of Integrated Building Safety Systems
IIoT manufacturing is progressing at such a remarkable rate that a lot of contemporary buildings sport different types of technology in them. All of this results in integrated safety systems.
A pilot project linked to two schools in Houston demonstrates the likeliness of components such as panic buttons being integrated with highly sophisticated IoT safety systems. Take for instance, when an individual finds himself in a threatening situation, he can press the panic button which can contact both internal and external officials.
These schools also have smart lights that assist individuals in identifying where the safe zones of a building are located. It also notifies them of an impending danger close-by.
Furthermore, one major factor that businesses need to consider when contemplating the transition to any IIoT manufacturing system is that they must have adequate power supplies to carry out the process.
This, therefore, means that it may be necessary for them to ensure the installation of industrial-standard electrical receptacles that will aid the smooth running of such projects.
As a result of the increasing rate of unfortunate occurrences like school shootings, integrated building safety systems are in higher demand now more than ever.
However, the odds are higher that they will be more widespread in manufacturing sites as well. After all, several warehouses occupy tremendously large areas of land.
To finalize the essence of this kind of safety solutions, the February 2019 incident that took place at an Illinois manufacturing site comes to mind.
During the unfortunate incident, a gunman gunned down 5 of his fellow workers. Such an incidence continues to serve as a sad reminder to manufacturers on the need to develop more safety measures for this.
Continuous Concentration on IIoT Security Systems to Enhance Safety
No matter how highly sophisticated an IIoT manufacturing system is, it may still be susceptible to attacks from cybercriminals.
This is the reason why manufacturing firms need to continuously integrate cybersecurity into their safety protocols. According to some experts, businesses operating within the manufacturing industry and otherwise must make IIoT cybersecurity a top priority.
The failure to do this can lead to the possible malfunctioning of connected machines, which can then cause harm to the workers nearby. In addition, if hackers are able to access the connected equipment, they can cause it to operate in abnormal ways that won’t be detected for a while and make the machine to produce defective products. This risk can also affect safety.
Considering these reasons and others, it is very obvious that IIoT manufacturing security is a major trend to look out for in 2020. In fact, there is a high chance that it will continue to remain indispensable in the nearest future.
An increasing amount of manufacturing firms and businesses from different industries are beginning to understand that undermining security factors could greatly affect their investments in IIoT and compromise safety.
Depending on Uncaged Industrial Robots
The first thing that comes to the mind of many when industrial robotics is mentioned is a visual image of a huge machine that has been restricted to a cage so it can work without causing any potential harm to humans.
It’s true that these robots are still in existence, however, they are often supplemented with other alternatives. For instance, Veo Robotics invented a system that utilizes computer vision, AI, and sensors to aid gigantic industrial robots that operate around humans without being caged.
This technology, which costs $30,000 gives the robots spatial consciousness of all things within their surrounding. Whenever the robot exceeds the specified protective separation distance from an employee or any object perceived as such, it automatically halts its operation.
The objective of this technological innovation is to prevent any incidents that would involve robot-human collisions. It also aims to give better flexibility to manufacturing organizations that desire a cooperative working space between robots and humans without the risk of accidents.
A particular organization that deals in the manufacturing of consumer tools leveraged the benefits of another method through which machines and humans can work together safely. The company invested in cobots.
These robots, designed to work around humans, automatically stop working or slow down when a person is within the proximal range. Thanks to the innovative application of cobots, the efficiency of the company’s business production rose by 30%.
Making Use of Location-specific Analytics and Real-Time Location Systems to Advance IIoT Safety
Sectors like healthcare utilize real-time location systems (RTLS) to keep a tab on people and assets. Now, an organization named Kontakt.io owns a platform known as Simon AI that incorporates sensor technology and RTLS to the manufacturing industry, as well. One of the basic functions of the system is to identify when individuals enter and exit the work environment.
On another hand – from the safety perspective, Simon AI is equipped with other essential components. For instance, it sends warning notifications whenever unauthorized individuals enter into restricted sites.
It also has the ability to connect to a panic button that allows workers to call for assistance and send help to their precise location. Additionally, in the case of an evacuation, the system will reveal how many individuals got to the designated safe meeting zones, and if any persons were left behind.
A crucial aspect of keeping people safe is checking to see if they are at where they ought to be at a specific time period. IIoT manufacturing security technology that provides managers with location-based information from RTLS assists them to confirm that their workers are staying away from danger zones.
Manufacturing companies can incorporate sensors into equipment
By implanting sensors into industrial machinery, managers can view collected data on the working condition of the equipment. Thus, in the case of a possible breakdown or malfunction of any machine, the data will be transferred to the technical engineers so that they can eliminate any risks that pose a threat to the workers. It is the duty of the technical inspectors to initiate immediate solutions that will save numerous lives.
Using IoT to Make Mining Safer
Miners are without doubt one of the groups of industrial workers with a crucial need for high safety measures. Although mining is essential in the world economy, the sector has had its problems with a drop in prices and employing skilled expertise.
Thanks to Industrial IoT, some of these problems are being solved by increasing efficiency and safety during mining processes.
According to a report by MaRS, IoT has been contributing greatly to the mining sector. From drones to auto-driving trucks, highly sophisticated technology and software are being used in mines to solve a vast range of challenges.
Particularly, automation has reduced the number of workers required and has robots carrying out risky jobs rather than human employees. Just like in other sectors, managers can use wearable devices to monitor machinery movements and the movements of miners to prevent accidental collisions.
By remotely controlling machines, managers can also improve safety and efficiency by shutting down machines that are not in operation to avoid the wastage of resources such as fuel.
Thanks to IIoT manufacturing, top mining businesses are recording excellent results in terms of efficiency and safety. For example, Dundee Precious Metals, a prominent mining company, has experienced a remarkable increase in production in their Bulgaria gold mine.
The company uses IoT technology to monitor and examine real-time data that was collected by sensors from different parts of the mine.
Construction Employees Making Use of Smart Helmets
Another construction company in Australia has developed another innovation of wearable technology that helps to better the conditions of workers.
The firm makes use of smart helmets integrated with sensors to track the safety of workers. After collecting data on the workers’ condition, the helmets upload the gathered information to the cloud where it is analyzed by Microsoft Power BI and Microsoft Azure.
For instance, since heatstroke is a major risk associated with Australia’s climate, the managers can utilize the data to examine if a worker is suffering from this condition.
The sensors have been programmed to track the heart rate and temperature of the worker, in addition to measuring the humidity and temperature level of the external environment. When the worker is nearing heat stroke, the smart helmet lets out a warning alarm that alerts the worker. In fact, the sensors can also wirelessly report the situation to the supervising manager.
These smart helmets demonstrate the many ways cutting edge IIoT technology connects workers directly to their working environments in a brilliant effort to facilitate safety and efficiency in the workplace.
In all, the connected nature of IIoT manufacturing encompasses several technologies that can alleviate machine errors and accidents. Safety should always be a major concern that should never be compromised when implementing any IIoT software, and these trends above are central to achieving this.