The heavy industry has been steadily evolving to keep up with new technologies. During this advancement, the rise of the connected worker is becoming increasingly apparent.
A connected worker is an employee who makes use of technology to integrate themselves into their work environment. They engage with devices and software that can keep them linked to systems and facilitate work. By leveraging new technologies such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), workers can perform their duties more safely and efficiently. For instance, workers on a maritime vessel or factory could use a wearable mobile device to monitor their health and safety conditions in near real–time. The device then feeds information back to a larger system, creating a connected worker platform.
A connected workforce is rapidly becoming integral to the heavy industries sector, and establishing a connected worker platform can have a huge impact on your business productivity and safety.
What is a Connected Worker Platform?
A connected worker platform is a digital infrastructure that integrates various technologies to support connected workers in their duties. Common features of a connected worker platform include:
- Near Real-Time Data Monitoring: Enables immediate insights into operational conditions, supporting quick decision-making.
- Health and Safety Tracking: Uses IIoT devices to monitor worker vitals and environmental hazards, ensuring a safer workspace.
- Remote Communication: Facilitates seamless information exchange between workers and management, fostering collaboration.
- Predictive Analytics: Applies AI to predict potential issues or risks, allowing proactive management and continuous improvement.
- Location Tracking: Offers near real-time location data for workers and assets, improving resource allocation and emergency response.
Why Use a Connected Worker Platform?
Challenges of Standalone Devices
Standalone mobile devices, while holding their own benefits, fall short when it comes to providing a holistic view of data. They lack seamless integration and easy communication, since they have to be managed on a per-device basis.
On the other hand, a connected worker platform aggregates all its benefits into one comprehensive solution. Here are five key use cases for employing such a platform:
- Enhanced Safety: Workplace injuries and deaths cost nearly $165 billion a year. Platforms like SOL-X offer near real-time health and safety tracking, reducing the risk of workplace accidents and improving worker well-being.
- Multi-Protocol Connectivity: Compatibility with major connectivity protocols like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Long-Range Bluetooth is a key feature of connected worker technology like SOL-X. This compatibility enables seamless data transmission, real-time monitoring, and efficient communication between devices and systems. With these capabilities, modern solutions like SOL-X is able to provide health and safety tracking, facilitate remote communication, and enable predictive risk management—all with minimal disruptions. Lastly, critical information can be shared in near real time, and supervisors can deploy digital work instructions with ease.
- Operational Efficiency: By enabling near real-time data monitoring and predictive analytics, these platforms allow companies to optimise their operations and reduce wastage. Avoiding inefficiency and optimising operations can save a business $300 million a year.
- Predictive Risk Management: Through the application of AI, connected worker platforms can predict potential issues or risks. This foresight allows for proactive management and mitigation of risks, enhancing overall operational reliability.
- Effective Asset Management: Location tracking capabilities of a connected worker platform provide near real-time location data for workers and assets. This not only improves resource allocation but also allows for swift emergency response, further ensuring the safety and efficiency of operations. This type of enhancement can reduce contractor costs and maintenance spending by 10 to 15%.
Top Trending Connected Worker Technology & Software
Connected worker technology is a rapidly growing trend in various industries. Hazardous environments such as oil rigs, mines, and construction sites benefit the most from it. Such technology involves the use of digital interfaces, IIoT devices, and other advanced tools to enhance worker safety, productivity, and communication.
Demand for this trending technology is soaring due to its potential to increase the efficiency and safety of operations significantly. Here are some devices that are seeing more and more use in recent years, and helping businesses reach new heights.
1. Digital Interfaces
Digital interfaces are a key trend in connected worker technology. These interfaces include live Dashboards and mobile tablet interfaces. They provide a user-friendly platform for workers to interact with the system, access near real-time data, and perform their tasks more efficiently.
A prime example of this trend is the SOL-X Control Of Work system. We developed this system with a range of digital interfaces designed to streamline workflows, ensure on-site compliance, enhance efficiency, and improve safety.
Our Live Dashboards offer a near real-time overview of the work site, allowing our supervisors to monitor operations and make informed decisions. The mobile tablet interface we have implemented enables our workers to access the necessary information and perform their tasks from anywhere on the work site.
Moreover, we have incorporated automation tools into our system that removes the need for paper-based processes. This not only reduces the risk of errors but also saves time and resources, contributing to our overall operational efficiency.
2. IIoT Devices
IIoT devices are a crucial component of connected worker technology. These devices usually take the form of wireless Bluetooth beacons, and are placed at strategic points in the workplace to pick up signals. This forms a web of connections that transmit to other smart devices like smartwatches.
These IIoT devices are becoming increasingly popular in various industries due to their ability to enhance safety and efficiency. For instance, in a ship, SOL-X Connected Worker Health and Safety Solution uses beacons to provide near real-time location tracking of workers, helping to prevent accidents and ensure a quicker response in case of emergencies.
These devices also facilitate data sharing among workers, supervisors, and other stakeholders. This can lead to improved decision-making, better coordination of tasks, and ultimately, enhanced productivity and safety outcomes.
Mobile and wearable devices are becoming increasingly popular due to the ease with which they can upgrade a worker’s connectivity.
Products such as SOL-X’s Intrinsically Safe SmartWatch can provide an individual user with a wide range of functions. These devices can collect data on workers’ health, send alerts regarding their surroundings, and allow them to contact others. Additionally, the SmartWatch is ATEX certified and equipped with a wide range of health vitals and environmental sensors.
The SOL-X SmartWatch is a powerful tool for enhancing worker safety and productivity in energy, industrial, and maritime sectors. By providing near real-time health and environmental data, our device allows for proactive safety measures and immediate response to potential health risks.
4. Cloud Computing Systems
Cloud computing systems are a key trend in the connected worker technology landscape. These systems store and process large amounts of data in a secure and efficient manner, enabling real-time analytics and decision-making.
SOL-X is delivered to customers through a Software as a Service (SaaS) Cloud model and an On-Premise Edge Server model. This means that our system can be accessed and managed remotely, making it a flexible solution for diverse industrial settings.
Additionally, SOL-X uses world-class secure cloud service providers such as Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. These providers have implemented comprehensive security measures to ensure and maintain the security of their infrastructure, and have committed to adhering to rigorous security and compliance standards. This quality assurance ensures the security and reliability of our SOL-X system.
Case Studies of a Connected Workforce
Integrating our connected worker solutions into their production processes has helped several large companies achieve operational excellence. Here are some ways businesses use connected technologies to improve worker safety and increase productivity.
In the maritime sector, SOL-X Connected Worker Health and Safety Solution was implemented by a leading shipping multinational company. The company faced challenges such as:
- A lack of visibility of individual crew members
- The loss of important documents due to human error
- Difficulty in finding the right party for task approval onboard
SOL-X’s Control Of Work system streamlined and optimised the overall workflow, reducing the average time to work by about 44 minutes per Permit To Work (PTW).
Through establishing a Connected Worker Platform, the system improved quality control and execution of tasks onboard, enhanced compliance, and promoted proactive crew behaviour and accountability. The SOL-X SmartWatch provided GeoFencing capabilities, enabling hazardous areas to be marked out, and alerting workers when they were in danger zones. The SmartWatch also improved worker well-being, providing ambient heat index readings and heart rate alerts, and encouraging personal fitness tracking.
In the petrochemical industry, SOL-X was implemented in a leading wastewater treatment plant. The plant faced challenges such as:
- An inadequate safety culture
- Low operational visibility and lone worker monitoring
- A lack of situational awareness among workers
SOL-X provided near real-time visibility of worker location and Control Of Work operations monitoring. Through GeoFence alerts, workers were kept aware of their surroundings, enabling them to remain in a fit state through connected wellness features and fatigue management.
The wearable SOL-X SmartWatch allowed workers to stay aware of the heat, keep track of their heart rate, and manage their work-rest hours. The SmartWatch also detected higher incidences of heat stress in zones like the Dryer Room. It then provided insights into infrastructure improvements such as where Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) should be placed.
Embrace the Future of Safety with SOL-X
Connected worker technology is revolutionising the way heavy industries operate. By integrating digital interfaces, IIoT devices, wearable technology, and cloud computing systems, our solutions are empowering workers to make use of digital transformation on the work site.
SOL-X, our connected worker platform, is at the forefront of this revolution. It has a comprehensive suite of features, including our Control Of Work, Crew Protect, and SmartWatch systems.
Whether you operate in the maritime, petrochemical, mining, or offshore industries, we can help you meet your health, safety, and environmental obligations using our connected worker approach. Don’t wait to make your workplace safer and more efficient. Establish a connected worker platform with our SOL-X Connected Worker Health and Safety Solution today.
Download this article here.