Given the power of smart technology, the realm of IoT is no longer restricted to just a handful of smart home manufacturing companies but is viewed as a technology with the capacity to impact – not just how we live, but also how we work. Over the last few years, IoT has been embraced by every industry imaginable—from manufacturing to healthcare, home automation to retail, financial services to agriculture—to drive better analysis and unearth deeper insight from the growing pool of data. It is estimated that the worldwide IoT market will grow to $457 billion by 2020. Although IoT holds great promises to improve business process efficiency and data analysis, today, the technology is gradually gaining traction in improving industrial safety as well.
In this whitepaper, we will talk about:
- What IoT is and the reasons for its unprecedented growth
- The traditional role of IoT in manufacturing
- The potential role of IoT in industrial safety
- The challenges it presents
- How Guardhat’s IoT solution helps overcome them
What is IoT?
When IoT first entered the manufacturing space, it was mainly exploited to overcome the challenges of manual, time-bound maintenance procedures. With 82% of equipment failures occurring randomly, manufacturers soon realized that taking a reactive approach to maintenance is no longer effective. IIoT opened the doors to a new range of capabilities across predictive and preventive maintenance that enabled manufacturers to more deeply understand the way complex systems work and interact with each other.
The combined power of machine learning and AI with the deep pool of data generated by IoT devices helps with proactively identifying when components of industrial equipment are likely to fail; such timely insight enables manufacturers to replace or repair faulty equipment, thereby avoiding costly damage and downtime. According to a McKinsey report, IIoT-based predictive maintenance can eliminate as much as 30% of time-based maintenance routine and reduce equipment downtime by almost 50%. For the manufacturing sector, this means:
- Remotely identifying equipment issues and failures and increasing the throughput of highly critical assets
- Getting visibility into assets in the field and planning required workarounds to improve equipment efficiency.
- Improving resource utilization, reducing asset downtime, and controlling maintenance costs through planned maintenance.
- Monitoring the state of machines to predict damages and prevent safety issues and production losses.
- Unearthing valuable performance insights and evaluating if assets are running effectively or are about to fail.
The potential role of IoT in industrial safety
Although IoT has traditionally enabled the manufacturing and industrial sectors to improve business output through proactive and timely maintenance insights, the use cases of the technology go far beyond just machine throughput. Today, the technology has the capability to completely transform the realm of industrial safety and make industrial sites a safer place to work for millions of workers around the world.
Industrial safety is in a sorry state today. But despite the appalling statistics about worker safety, organizations are not doing much that is strategic in this area. Solutions remain mired in the past and tend to be piecemeal and low-tech. In that context, leveraging IoT can help propel worker safety to a whole new level. With IoT, the industrial sector can not only achieve ambitious worker safety goals but also derive actionable insight from the ever-increasing amount of data to gauge their safety proficiency levels and take steps in the right direction to improve industrial safety.
Here are some IoT-enabled devices that can truly transform the realm of industrial safety: Until recently, industrial sectors have not pushed the technological envelope for ensuring safety. Although they have been implementing basic safety procedures and providing a handful of safety gears to workers working in high-risk environments, they are not leveraging technological advances to transform the safety management landscape. As the need for regulatory compliance grows and as companies struggle to optimize their operational risk profile, industrial sectors have a lot to benefit from IoT.
In the manufacturing sector, IoT can capture and analyze the data of a forklift operator including the level of training the operator has received, the type of forklift being operated, and the location of operation. Such insight can help paint a real-time picture of risk and automatically alert the supervisor if the chances for an incident are high. Using machine learning, manufacturers can further mine historical data to suggest post-event action plans based on what has been done before and thus improve the effectiveness of the actions taken.
In underground mines, IoT sensors can help mining companies improve safety management standards and safeguard the health and well-being of mine workers. IoT devices can transmit real-time hazard information to underground workers as well as relay lone worker fatigue to supervisors to avert a major risk situation. Live data can enable supervisors to pull a worker out of a risky situation or alert workers to circumvent the impending hazard.
In the chemical industry, where workers often work with hazardous chemicals, voice-enabled IoT devices can enable workers to verbally report incidents and allow build-in AI engines to orchestrate the incident reporting process and offer real-time contextual insights. Such insights can drive real-time awareness, enabling workers to take corrective actions or inform their supervisor about emergency evacuation – if the situation goes beyond normal.
Oil and gas:
The safety of workers working in oil rigs has always been an area of concern for oil companies. However, IoT-enabled cameras, gyroscopes, accelerometers, and GPS devices can pinpoint exact locations where a hazard has been identified hazards, attach pictures or descriptions of the same, and specify the seriousness of the hazard to concerned workers. Such devices can also enable lone workers to respond to periodic safety check-ins or request help at the push of a button.
In the construction industry, where many workers often succumb to their injuries, IoT devices can offer a critical field of vision: by capturing images and videos of the entire site, they can provide risk insight not just into aspects that workers can see but also those they cannot – while displaying where the situation is happening (or may happen) and which workers are in jeopardy. Such actionable intelligence when combined with next-generation data analysis can allow supervisors to quickly act on and shield workers from calamities – at all times. And these are only some of the multitude of industries where this technology has uses.
The challenges for IoT in industrial safety
With a worker succumbing to his/her injuries every 15 seconds, it has become more important for organizations to make use of smart technology like IoT to gauge safety posture, implement corrective measures and alert concerned workers to take necessary action. However, despite all the benefits of using IoT for industrial safety, many organizations struggle to achieve the intended outcomes from their IoT investment.
- For organizations operating in remote mines or oil rigs, the problem of no or low connectivity is widespread. How can they leverage the capabilities of IoT devices if there is no Internet network?
- With workers performing an array of tasks at different locations in an industrial site, how do organizations get a real-time view of the environment that workers are in?
- Many organizations use IoT that focuses only on individual workers but not on the entire workforce. Given that the chances of a mishap are equal for a worker working in a foundry and a worker stationed on a beam, how do they enable enterprise-wide IoT implementation?
- With workers in a large industrial site operating from several different locations, how do organizations precisely locate each and every member of the workforce and communicate with them in real-time – with a latency of less than one second?
How Guardhat’s solution helps overcome them
Guardhat’s patented IoT ecosystem connects industrial workers through an array of state-of-the-art wearables, infrastructure, and applications. Our solutions have the capability to monitor static as well as dynamic sites: from factory floors and warehouses to steel mills and refineries, vertical construction sites to oil rigs and mines. We monitor not just lone/mobile workers but also keep track of the safety and well-being of every worker – no matter where the worker is located, what tasks the worker is performing, or the environment the worker currently is in.
The solution can also directly connect to any compatible BLE-enabled device and offer seamless performance—even in the event of no connectivity. We can monitor worker and equipment movement and gain insight into layout improvements, including improvements to walkways, routes, material transport, and more. Through continuous collection and analysis of hazard data, we can detect serious risks before they occur, have maintenance teams inspect areas, and replace equipment before they break.
Our wearables are built using geo-localization, so workers can be tracked in real-time using sensor data. They enable audio/video communication and offer the ability to scale and integrate with additional devices and form factors in the future. The industrial IoT bus can either be deployed on-premises or on the cloud; it enables integration with a slew of hardware infrastructure including RTLS and communication devices and offers APIs for integration with 3rd party systems such as SAP, Oracle E&HS, IBM Maximo, and more. Our solution also provides a built-in Safety Control Center application and a companion mobile app, which offer real-time notifications and responses using big data analytics.
Key features of our Industrial IoT solution include:
- Real-time indoor/outdoor monitoring
- Wireless connectivity through LTE, Wi-Fi, UWB, BT/BLE
- Audio/video calls and offline recording
- Event-based monitoring and mapping
- Real-time alerts and notifications
- Offline capabilities along with black box data collection
- Environmental sensors to track noise, gas, temperature, and pressure levels
- Fall and safety gear wear out detection
- Integration with 3rd party external sensors, software systems, and other IoT devices
IoT adoption is snowballing at an extraordinary pace; it is estimated that by 2025, 64 billion IoT devices will be present in the world. Organizations across the world have been embracing IoT to boost the efficiency of their business. For instance, oil and gas companies have been able to witness maintenance costs drop by 30%, eliminate the chances of breakdowns by 70% and reduce downtime by 40%. But not many have realized the transformation IoT can bring in the realm of industrial safety. As more and more workplace injury-related news dominates the headlines, leveraging the technology to safeguard worker well-being has become a business prerogative.
Through advanced connectivity of workers and assets, IoT can enable industries to drive real-time situational awareness and critical field of vision like never before. Through intelligent device communication and next-gen data analysis, IoT can collect, deliver and analyze real-time data for those on the front lines of industry – allowing organizations to act immediately — and always stay on guard. With IoT, organizations will finally be able to move away from being unwitting allies to industrial mishaps. They will be able to take the reins of worker safety in their own hands – and steer each worker in the enterprise clear of calamities.
Guardhat is a worker safety and connected worker solutions company that provides situational awareness solutions using IoT platforms and product ecosystem. The company is on the way to pioneering a technological breakthrough in industrial safety monitoring and productivity assurance. Leveraging their propriety IoT platform, Guardhat’s solutions help organizations make decisions that increase productivity, improve response times and implement strategies that ultimately save lives. Guardhat has been mentioned by Forbes as a leading AI safety solutions provider for the manufacturing industry.
In February 2019, Guardhat collaborated with IBM to integrate its platform with IBM’s Maximo Worker Insights solution to provide near real-time situational awareness using smart personal protection equipment.
Guardhat has offices in Detroit and Chicago and offers solutions across North America, South America, EMEA, APAC, and Russia/EU. Their current offerings include:
- Smart wearable solutions
- Safety gear and safety apps
- Geo-localization services
- Advanced IoT platform
- Real-time communication services
- Advanced analytics solutions