How Wearable Technology is Revolutionizing Industrial Operations

Revolutionizing Industrial Operations with Wearable Technology

Technological advancement has paved the way for new businesses, new ways to advertise, new ways to communicate and new ways to connect. So, what about the industries that have been here for decades, or even centuries, yet are still critical even in this modern time? Utilities, refineries, factories, and agriculture are examples of industries that have been ignored and underserved by digitization. Not anymore. The development of new tools, along with the expertise and commitment from CBT to innovate, are transforming the way these industries operate. Through Connected Worker, efficiency, accuracy, safety, and reliability can be measured and optimized, generating a dynamic return on investment. 

How Wearable Technology is Revolutionizing Industrial OperationsWhy digitize? Primarily: access to information, accountability, predictability, reliability, and data security. Information that can be highly useful in making management decisions is now available that has been previously difficult, if not impossible to gather. Accountability is enhanced as the system can detect when someone is on task or not. Predictability around service and maintenance requirements or scheduling can save money and time. Data security is available as paper logs cannot be lost, tampered with or destroyed. 

What is Connected Worker? Connected Worker comprises: wearables, camera, screen, mic/speaker, and connectivity. In short, a wearable device with a camera capturing the worker’s field of view, a screen to read instructions or visualize the asset components (through Augmented and Virtual Realities), sensors, earpiece and microphone for two-way audio, and network connectivity for two-way communications. These components are further enhanced by the connectivity to other users. The ability of several users to log in and see what the wearer sees can allow training to be efficient and effective. The ability for screen sharing and real-time annotations to be visible by all not only provides the wearer critical, relevant information but also fosters a collaborative environment for problem-solving. Gone are the limitations of physical location as in-person meetings or on-site training. Connected Worker is a complete, end-to-end solution that generates significant efficiency gains to increase throughput, reduce the cost of production, minimize waste, minimize downtime and streamline operations. 

Example #1: Troubleshooting a malfunctioning asset

This is a reactive situation where downtime could be quite costly. Often, a technician is needed to perform onsite tasks, but they do not have the expertise to diagnose the problem independently. Rather than investing in travel and time for a trained specialist to go to the site, Connected Worker enables the technician to conduct the necessary tasks with the guidance of a remote expert. By streaming video from the asset to the expert, the expert can see and validate issues, readings, and settings. Then using the screen, the technician can be served access to manuals with step-by-step instructions, or even a visual aid illustrating and labeling the asset components. The two-way communication allows the technician and the specialist to discuss necessary steps and outcomes. Lastly, additional sensors can be connected to monitor the location of the worker and their vital signs to ensure their safety and monitor their well-being in hazardous conditions. 

Example #2: Training a new Technician.

Technical training is necessary and must be conducted before a technician can perform any tasks. The challenge is that much of what is learned in a classroom or lab setting is lost between the training end and the beginning of their first assignment. Not to mention the amount of complexity that often is only understood by those with the most experience with the equipment. Connected Worker empowers technicians to perform tasks with the guidance of a remote mentor. Much like that in the troubleshooting example above, a remote mentor can be leveraged to deliver hands-on training and real-time operational impact simultaneously. This can reduce human error, increase technician skills and save on unnecessary travel and overhead costs. 

Example #3: Driving a Crane

Crane operators (or operators of many types of heavy equipment) often rely on others to see what they cannot. It takes a team using hand-signals to relay real-time feedback on lift and drop positioning and keep everyone safe. While the additional team members reduce the chances of a miss or an accident, there is inherent risk for those on the ground and also for human error. How many times have you accidentally activated the wrong turn signal in your vehicle? This same type of mistake in a construction project can have devastating consequences. With Connected Worker, the operator can view what their teammates see, by capturing video in their helmets, and displaying that video on the operator’s screen. This delivers precise feedback to the operator and they are no longer depending solely on their counterpart to communicate necessary adjustments.

The opportunities for streamlining operations, eliminating unnecessary cost, and mitigating risk are endless. Connected Worker offers customized applications depending on the user requirements. CBT engages clients by conducting a design-thinking engagement to assess the current digital usage and road map. Critical user journeys (CUJs) are captured and acceptance criteria is defined to identify what features and requirements are needed. Key data points are determined to allow for base-lining performance and capturing performance metrics overtime, paving the way for future trends analysis and reporting. The tools, the data they produce and the operational impact generate a return-on-investment that is measurable and allows our clients to reallocate resources, reinvest capital, or simply capture savings.

How is return-on-investment calculated?

Before evaluating a potential investment the first step is to capture the current cost of ownership of the asset. This includes: asset procurement costs, installation costs, service and maintenance costs, operational labor costs and insurance costs. The more difficult costs to calculate are those hidden in the paper and pen paradigm. An investigation into how much time is spent searching for and reading through logs, truck-rolls to read gauges and/or diagnose performance issues, travel time, overstaffing, and even opportunity cost as a result of inefficiencies, would be needed to provide an accurate accounting for a baseline. Many times the digitization uncovers unknown waste and losses previously undetectable. 

Once Connected Worker has been implemented, a comparative analysis can be done using the same inputs to the cost-of-ownership; identifying trends in expediency, accuracy, uptime, and overall productivity. Not just based on usage of the helmets, but also capturing operational metrics that were previously undocumented. Connected Worker is a game-changer in bringing technological advancement to industries where networking, software, and data have been difficult to leverage. 

Schedule a meeting today and uncover what Connected Worker can do for your operation.