While manufacturers are starting to harness the power of the data flowing through their machines to boost performance and efficiency, this information can also be critical to improving worker safety and plant security.
Combining Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies with big data analytics allows you to monitor and interpret important safety trends in your plant. This can include injuries, near misses, malfunctions, accidents chemical damages, and property damage. IIoT and augmented reality have enabled a new revolution in worker safety making employee onboarding and training more effective than ever.
Safety issues are notoriously underreported. As a result, your safety data can be skewed, painting you an unrealistic picture of the safety of your plant. Without comprehensive, real-time data, it is impossible to know where things could go wrong in your plant, as well as know where risks are emerging, or if a malfunction is about to occur.
Although it takes careful strategic planning forethought to digitally transform your manufacturing business, the positive impact on your worker safety and productivity will be exponential. With IIoT-enabled machinery, you can gather data from your sensors to get insights into your worker safety in real-time. This makes it easier for you to meet safety regulations and improve your worker safety.
A major cause of workplace injury comes from the malfunctioning of machinery. With a connected manufacturing plant, you can gain real-time data on how your parts are all performing to help decrease or eliminate unplanned downtime and equipment malfunction. In the past, service workers may have performed routine checks on machinery, but this process, undertaken by humans, can be error-prone and inefficient.
By feeding your machinery’s data vast amounts of data into algorithms, your machines can indicate when they are likely to break down before they actually doing so. This form of maintenance approach, known as predictive maintenance, not only minimizes costly downtime but also ensures that machine-related injuries are minimized as much as possible.
One of the best ways to improve worker safety is to upgrade employee-onboarding. Workers are often trained through extensive manuals, presentations, and textbooks; however, it is often difficult for recruits to translate abstract theory into practice, and this can be dangerous when working in a manufacturing plant.
Digital work instructions that can be enabled by augmented reality gives new recruits a much more immersive training experience that results in better knowledge retention and upskilling time. Manufacturers who have used PTC’s AR training are reporting an increase of 30-50% in onboarding time for new employees.
3D work instructions can enable workers to learn by doing, which has been nearly impossible in the past. By allowing you to map instructions over a recruit’s field of vision, recruits can gain real experience in deciphering when a part is likely to malfunction. This provides recruits with a view of parts behind opaque surfaces so they can visualize how they operate, as opposed to imagining it from illustrations from a textbook. This improved training can mean the difference between an accident occurring or not.
AR-enabled work instructions can also feed real-time alerts into employees’ AR-headsets, notifying them in real-time when a part has surpassed a safety threshold. In the past, workers would have to rely on their knowledge of machinery operation.
Digital manufacturing solutions grant instant access to real-time, data-driven insights, which could transform and protect your industrial workforce. Not only does this make your plant more efficient and productive, but it can also improve employee health and well-being.
Leah Gourley is a Digital Content Marketing Specialist based out of PTC's Boston office. She enjoys creating and sharing content surrounding the latest technologies that are transforming industries, including augmented reality and the industrial internet of things.