Transform traditional passive Protective Equipments into active Smart Devices
What does "connected worker" mean and where does it apply?
"Connected Worker" is related to Industry 4.0 paradigm and illustrates emerging next generation for blue collar workers. Connected Worker is different from "Knowledge Worker" but the connected industrial worker generates a lot of valuable data and context knowledge. There is a lot of media coverage on "connected machines" but we believe that industry 4.0 can and will only deliver sustainable and valuable results if and only if workers are part of the play. For instance, worker personal protective equipment sends and receives data/event from/to other workers/machines/organisations in case of emergency.
Western countries such as France, Germany or US will probably lead the next generation worker revolution as those countries are paving the way for re-industrialization. The political turmoil in US and in Europe will accelerate this trend as citizen do not accept anymore globalization where cheap manufacturing competes with local production units. For instance, Donald Trump has announced during his campaign that he would ask Apple to produce in US (“We’re going to get Apple to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries,” he said in January 2016 at Liberty University and “Apple and all of these great companies will be making their products in the United States, not in China, Vietnam,” he said at Mar-a-Lago earlier this month). There are several articles from mass media criticizing this view but Donald Trump has been elected and he might well do what he said.
In France and in Germany, we observe the same expectations from a large majority of citizens. To be sustainable and economically viable, new emerging technologies and working process must be invented and delivered. That's where industry 4.0 lies !
What are examples of connected worker services?
Ensuring by all means worker protection is not only a legal requirement for most employers but also a way to get loyal and motivated employees, in particular the ones working in harsh and dangerous industrial area.
Smart and Connected solution implemented in PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) can really bring more protection to the worker by allowing him to send/receive real-time and contextualized alert/events.
Even tough a few of them are still innovative, most of manufactured PPEs are unfortunately totally passive and cannot bring any connected services.
Mobile app dedicated to worker is the first basic step to provide connected worker service but is far from delivering the full potential.
What is required to enable connected worker services?
Enabling connected worker services will be a challenge, especially in western countries where "what is new" is very often considered as negative. Usages analysis and technical architectures, as well as security and privacy issues, will be part of the problem and the solution.
- Security and Privacy - Employees and employers must ensure that their data is protected.
- Low SAR (Specific Absorption rate) - Citizen are increasingly sensitive to radiation impact. As a consequence, it might be a barrier for employee adoption. That's the reason why we believe that the worker gateway is best suited in his safety shoes (and not on helmet for example).
- Hidden integration - From the worker point of view, he shouldn't think or even take care about a new complicate device.
- Useful and open to employee appropriation - Employee are not machines and their appropriation level is key for their adoption. Thus "connected worker apps" should be accessible and feasible for employees.
- Easy to use - Blue collars (low or high skilled) require very easy and straight forward tools to achieve their mission and get the best motivation and productivity. Western countries unions are very powerful and they are by nature very skeptical to new technologies and how it could benefit to employees (and not only to employers). The new successful connected worker solution will also have to convince workers about their simplicity and benefits for them.
- Multi-applicative hardware and software - The connected worker device will bring value through different apps. Thus it is important that the device is multi-app.
- Cost-efficient and highly scalable production - Personal protective equipment market is a price sensitive market with huge volume. Scalability and economies of scale is key sucess factor. The cost structure wilb be composed of unit price and monthly or yearly subscription price (telecom, maintenance, ...).
- Power-efficient - The battery-operated equipment will require innovative power management process in order to offer running low-complex app and high-complex app (requiring more power).
- Recyclable - Green impact is a concern for major industrial company and "connected worker" solutions must ensure that they fit this environmental requirement.
- Change management - As for any revolution impacting people, workers and organisation, industry 4.0 and connected worker solutions would require tremendous efforts and change management strategies to achieve the best sustainable results. Specific consultancy and products will target change management.
Intellinium solution and benefits
Intellinium has been working with industrial workers and decision-makers since 2014 to better understand constraints and concrete useful use-cases for connected worker solution, in particular for worker protection & safety. More than 30 services are ready to be rolled-out.
We have developed a unique (patent-pending) technology that enables interactive haptic communication between the worker and its environments though his safety shoes.