As the industrial landscape becomes increasingly autonomous, connected worker solutions are gaining immense popularity. Interestingly, the new wave of these solutions is focusing on the worker to make new-age IoT platforms more human.
In this first blog of our two-part series on the Connected Worker Revolution, we will throw some light on common industrial workforce challenges, why and how it is time for organizations to move from the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to the Industrial Internet of People (IIoP).
Industrial workforce challenges
Safety has always been a great concern for workers in dangerous environments. Solutions are more complex and must work in challenging and hard-to-control environments. Here are some of the challenges industrial organizations face:
Connectivity issues: Connectivity is a luxury. Given the remote and dispersed locations industrial organizations operate in, internet connectivity is almost always poor and sometimes non-existent. The obvious challenge is how to provide reliable “connectivity” while building connected worker solutions.
Technology choices: The typical industrial workplace uses several different systems to accomplish different objectives. However, with multiple technologies – each bringing its own complexity across the user interface, integration, networks, and more – it becomes hard for organizations to manage complexity, interoperability, and make the right technology choices.
Unstructured data: Much of the data coming into the industrial ecosystem is unstructured, often in the form of pictures, videos, and text. In contrast to structured data generated from machines that is easy to analyze, less than 1% of unstructured data is analyzed or used by organizations – because it is just too hard.
Rugged environments: The industrial workplace is extremely rugged, with workers often working deep in mines, at dangerous heights, or in isolation. For tech solutions to work in these environments, they MUST be fall-proof. They must also maintain efficiency and effectiveness in extremely hot, humid, and/or noisy environments.
Getting data out of people: IoT devices have always been great at getting data out of machines. But to make the workplace safer and more productive, these devices need to be just as good at capturing people data as machine data.
Trust deficit: In addition to the challenge of using data generated by people, organizations also deal with privacy concerns over how their employee’s data is captured and used. It might be easy to implement modern systems for data capture and analysis, but controls and data security protocols are necessary – especially for employees apprehensive about how the tracking data will be used.
The move from IIoT to IIoP
There is a pressing need to move from IIoT and IIoP, because no matter how automated the industrial workplace becomes, people remain the most valuable asset. Here is what makes IIoP different from IIoT:
Security and privacy: IIoT solutions focus mostly on security, but IIoP solutions must ensure both security and privacy. Organizations need to be able to offer a variety of privacy choices to users to earn their trust: from getting their consent to track their movements, to offering different options for tracking via wearables in offline mode so the information to send emergency notifications is captured, while remaining sensitive to their need for autonomy and privacy.
Human productivity: IIoP devices need to be able to enhance worker productivity, making it easy for people to complete their tasks efficiently. When choosing solutions, organizations need to focus on systems that boost worker productivity and allow them to transition seamlessly from paper to digital, such as creating lockouts and geofences.
Human communication: In contrast to IIoT solutions that are built primarily for machine-to-machine communication, connected worker solutions account for different types of human communication. Several communication options need to be offered for workers to be able to communicate with each other, including text, voice, and video.
Ergonomic and multi-functional: Simplicity is essential to enable a seamless and efficient connected worker environment. Organizations cannot expect their workers to use an array of specific purpose tools for day-to-day work. Rather, they should focus on providing devices that are ergonomic, combine multiple functions into a single device, and that are intuitive and easy to use for better worker experience and satisfaction.
Human-machine interface: Connected worker solutions enable a vast array of data analysis capabilities; but individuals cannot simply look at a screen full of data, they must also be able to comprehend that data and deliver actionable insights from their analysis. Organizations need to be able to offer solutions that consolidate structured and unstructured data coming from connected devices, quickly enabling action by providing easy-to-understand insights and reports.
While IIoT and IIoP solutions possess similar premises, both are built for safety and both provide capabilities across location awareness, connectivity, and data analysis. Organizations must also be wary of the many differences and embrace solutions that enable successful and sustainable connected worker transformations.
As the pace and scale of the connected worker revolution accelerate, organizations have to make industrial solutions more human-centric; they need to move from IIoT to IIoP to achieve meaningful and sustained results.
Guardhat is pioneering end-to-end connected worker safety solutions for industrial workers. The company offers cutting-edge, wearable technology; a proprietary connected worker platform – unrivaled in its ability to ingest, manage and analyze unstructured data; easy to deploy monitoring and reporting software; and a growing ecosystem of partner integrations. With Guardhat, companies can monitor worker location, health, and work environment to speed reaction time and help proactively solve safety challenges. Guardhat is headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, and operates globally. The company holds 15 patents in real-time location systems, wearable solution design, and connected worker software. For more information, visit: www.guardhat.com or contact us.