How IoT Enhances Workforce Productivity and Safety in Manufacturing
In today’s age of heightened competition, enterprises face a pressing challenge to achieve more with less. A critical area in efficiency improvement is in human resources, with highly productive employees critical to improving the bottom-line. Side-by-side, workplace safety also yields direct benefits in ensuring disruption free work. IoT holds the key to delivering a safe workplace.
Ambient Lighting and Temperature
Productivity is often a factor of the employee’s extraneous surroundings. IoT enabled platforms facilitate optimal working environment.
Consider energy savings. Many enterprises opt for energy savings but remain oblivious to the counter-effect of employees being distracted due to inadequate lighting or sub-optimal heating. IoT systems consider the time of the day, occupancy levels, available daylight, and all other relevant factors, to maximize energy savings, while at the same time making sure the employee is not distracted by lighting and temperature.
Intelligent lighting systems, for instance, consider the data from sensors and set the brightness of the light considering staffing levels, occupancy, and other relevant factors. Such controls are especially useful for night-shifts, where lights set to a designated level help the employee remain alert and work at their productive best.
Lighting platforms, connected with humidity and temperature sensors further integrate with the HVAC systems to set optimal temperatures, depending on the time of day, occupancy levels, and other considerations. Advanced systems with mobile-enabled controls allow employees to set customized brightness and temperature thresholds at their workplaces.
An average US commercial building wastes 30% of its energy. The adoption of hyper-efficient IoT technologies will result in such direct benefits for the enterprise.
Streamlining processes with data and automation
IoT-enabled building systems offer real-time location information of employees and others in the facility. Such data makes it easy to track employee movement and occupancy levels, to allocate work efficiently. It also sheds critical insights into workflows, useful to map inventory plans, production schedules, and shift scheduling in the best possible way.
Integrating Google and Outlook calendars into the mix enables optimal utilization of space. Some possibilities include automatic booking of conference rooms, allocating cleaning staff based on occupancy rates, optimizing floor plans based on traffic and assembly patterns, and more.
Using IoT derived insights to rearrange the workflow, optimize shift or work timings, and other interventions enable an effective sync of employee and available resources, leading to optimal utilization of assets and improved efficiency. It also saves the enterprise the need to purchase new assets or provision for more space.
Better Workplace Collaboration
IoT facilitates better workplace collaboration. Location tracker beacons confirm the location of a person at any given point. Customers and clients having access to the exact location of the service technician, and the estimated time of arrival, has already improved customer service and satisfaction in a big way. Another possibility which has already yielded rich dividends is the marketing manager triggering and deploying the executive nearest to the customer who initiated a request, facilitating instant response.
Such IoT enabled trackers improve productivity and efficiency even inside offices and shop floors. IoT-connected employees have a greater chance of establishing stronger collaboration practices, by making their connected devices sync and communicate automatically with that of others.
IoT gives an entirely new dimension to the dated time and motion studies. IoT sensors offer managers the capability to monitor team behaviors and habits and pick up specific patterns and traits to be improved. Such insights also enable modifying policies to sync with established patterns and the “natural way of work” rather than force everyone to move against the tide.
Remote access to computers and mobile devices, Android cameras, set-top boxes, and other devices, coupled with the ability to control such devices from afar help managers get a clear understanding about each individual’s work processes, and disseminate critical information proactively, waiting for the device user to read the message and respond.
The interconnectivity of mobile devices, vehicles and road systems help executives sync their commute, and reduce travel time. It also gives a fillip to the logistics operations of the enterprise, making supply chain operations seamless. A case in point is AT&T’s collaboration with GM and BMW to add LTE connectivity functionality to vehicles, to provide real-time traffic information. The system co-opts every possible element in the environment, from stoplights to street signs, from real-time front seat diagnostics to infotainment options, and much more.
Adding beacons to intelligent fixtures, and tagging assets offer real-time insight into the exact location of the assets. Such geo-tagging spares considerable time for workers who attempt to hunt down objects and devices. It also reduces the loss rate of goods significantly.
Enhancing facility security and safety
Smart solutions improve the physical security of the premises and connected assets. For instance, intelligent lighting platforms, by turning on the lights when the sensors detect movement, prevent break-ins. Even otherwise, automated switching on of emergency lighting during power outrages improves employee safety manifold and prevents workplace mishaps.
IoT derived heat maps and occupancy data allow facility managers to identify high areas of traffic requiring special attention and enable placement of pathways in an optimal manner. Such occupancy data also find use to create virtual fences around particular zones within a facility, sensing and alerting in real-time if trespassing takes place.
Doing away with non-value adding processes
IoT enabled mobile applications which log employee movements automate hitherto tedious and cumbersome attendance tracking process. The doing away of access cards and other non-value adding processes alone improve productivity manifold. Likewise, sensor-based apps can log attendance in a training session or meeting, sparing the busy executive the hassle to fill a timesheet for records, or having to make separate claims to accounts.
The possibilities with IoT now is just the tip of the iceberg. The IoT powered wave of Industrial Revolution is all set to disrupt the workplace like never before. Enterprises that brace themselves for the imminent changes by overhauling their systems stand a good chance to ride the tide to prosperity.