Our webinar, “Empowering connected workers of the future: AI for improved efficiency, safety and job satisfaction” is a must-see for industrial operation companies. With the increasing buzz surrounding connected worker strategies and an ever-growing emphasis on worker safety, it’s our goal to shed light on how a connected worker strategy can work for specific companies.
The webinar covers the upside of connecting workforces, delves into specific industrial use cases, along with a product demonstration of exactly how connected worker technology works.
Geoff Mair, SensorUp CEO, introduces the concept of the connected worker and offers specific examples, and Larry Toube, SensorUp VP Product and User Experience, offers a product demo highlighting actual data points. You can view the recording now and to give you a preview of what you can expect, here are seven key takeaways from the talk.
1. Safety culture is now the status quo
Geoff highlights some of the global trends that are driving the adoption of connected worker strategies and shares a hard truth that many industrial companies are facing. “Safety culture is really becoming the only acceptable culture,” Geoff notes. “COVID-19 is really driving more attention to this.”
He also addresses trends like resource pricing, the ageing and retiring of skilled workforces, and the proliferation of new technologies as contributing factors to the connected worker trend.
2. Efficiency losses are more costly than companies realize
Wait times. Poor wayfinding. Duplicated effort. “Research shows that most frontline workers lose 2-3 hours per workweek to lost time, and it’s not because they’re choosing to do so and it’s not because they’re lazy,” says Geoff. When companies don’t have accurate tracking of their operations, they don’t have visibility into where the inefficiencies are. “Micro-delays really add up to a significant amount of loss.”
3. Connected worker solutions can offer significant, measurable ROI
The financial benefits of a connected worker strategy are significant. “Research from Accenture suggests that implementing a connected worker strategy can result in approximately 8.5% gains in worker efficiency and a reduction in operational expenditures of roughly 8%,” notes Geoff. “The impact is that an expected ROI for connected worker solutions is 290% per year from saved costs, saved lives, and productivity. Investment in a connected worker just makes sense.”
4. Many industrial workers are ready to embrace the familiar hardware solutions
Sharing data from a Verdantix study, Geoff shows how the various connected worker technologies usually get deployed among different types of workers. Not surprisingly, costly tech like alternate reality devices, smart glasses and various body-worn sensors are with frontline and field workers. For us, the most eye-opening piece of the data was the popularity of wrist-worn devices like smartwatches as an end-point device. It’s a data point that has informed our product development.
“We really like smartphones and smartwatches,” says Geoff. “We like smartphones because almost everyone has one, and they are easy to use. And we really like smartwatches for their form factor which is smaller, hands-free, and is really appropriate for frontline workers.”
5. Digitization of processes can bridge the skills gap
The ageing and retiring of operational workforces is a concern for all industrial companies, a challenge that Geoff says can be addressed with connected worker solutions.
“Customers should be digitizing their paper processes and making the relevant checklists, forms, and instructions available on endpoint devices, instead of big paper binders that are locked away in a cabinet,” says Geoff. “This can really help with that skills gap when you have new, less experienced but technology-savvy employees coming into the workplace.”
6. Leading with “frontline workers-first” solutions will drive adoption
An objection that customers often have is around worker adoption and privacy concerns. SensorUp aims to focus on empowering workers instead of a “Big Brother” monitoring approach.
“We are very focused on the connected worker experience — really making frontline workers safer and more productive,” says Geoff. “We are combining that with all of the great management and operator data that we already collect across the organization, but with a focus on that frontline user experience.”
7. The most successful connected worker projects start with a small pilot
“The most successful projects out there focus on a single problem to start,” says Geoff. “They show success in solving that one very specific problem and then expand from there into other areas.”
Companies need to consider their capabilities — what knowledge and skill sets do they have to adopt these kinds of technologies? “We’ve seen that the most successful connected worker strategies are small pilots that are aligned with larger enterprise initiatives like digital transformation,” adds Geoff.
Bonus takeaways: 18 different use cases
The use cases for connected workers are as varied and diverse as the companies that are adopting them. Below are just some examples of connected worker use cases that the SensorUp software supports:
- Liquid hauling
- Minimizing non-productive time
- Contextual data on equipment
- Methane monitoring
- Remote management
- Real-time coordination of resources
- Contractor management/dispute management
- Permitting assurance
- Fatigue management
- Digitizing paper processes
- Slip/trip/fall detection
- Real-time safety alerts
- Competency Assurance
- Evacuation and mustering assistance
- Incident investigation
- COVID-19 risk management
Connected worker product demonstration
In the second half of the webinar, Larry shares several demonstrations of some specific use cases, including a project with the Department of Homeland Security. Clicking through the software on his screen, Larry demonstrates a number of ways that connected worker technology can make work safer and more productive:
- Multiple sensor aggregation for better situational awareness
- Incident investigation, exposure tracing and tracking for improved health
- Live sensors in an industrial setting to coordinate activities across systems
- Augmenting sensor data with point cloud data to provide much more precise context to disparate data, representing the digital twin of an organization
- Configuring the system to create and manage alerts and issues automatically through the workflow automation engine
- Specific ways that important data can be consumed on a mobile device, giving frontline workers real-time access, providing a better digital experience
“We provide the ability for many different sensors,” says Larry. “Whether that be smartwatches, gas detection sensors, medical-grade biometrics sensors, we have the ability to aggregate and infuse all of that data into a central asset and make it available via our central awareness application.” Larry shows a Department of Homeland Security example that uses 24 different sensors and the various specific ways that collected data can be socialized and contextualized.
The best question from the Q&A
Watch until the end to see Larry and Geoff answer specific questions from webinar attendees. By way of a sneak peek, here was our favorite: “How quickly can I have this kind of system set up?”
Geoff’s reply might come as a surprise to companies that are used to years and months-long technology rollouts. “We can set up the SensorUp software plus some pilot devices in a couple of weeks,” says Geoff. “It’s really quite quick. We offer mobile devices and a wide variety of sensors pre-integrated. We don’t have to do any development work or any heavy lifting.”
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