Accidents on the factory shop floor are not desirable under any circumstances. Yet, they happen. According to the National Safety Council, 34% of these injuries occur while coming in contact with equipment and objects. About 32% of the injuries result from reactions to the exposed chemicals and overexertion. Slips and falls are responsible for 18%, followed by other non-fatal injuries.
Often, workers are exposed to unhealthy working conditions that result in musculoskeletal injuries, chronic obstructive lung diseases, pesticide poisoning, and noise-induced hearing loss. And this has long been the case.
In fact, back in 2017, Tesla’s “factory of the future” notion was endangered by employees’ complaints regarding shopfloor safety. One worker, as quoted by The Guardian, said, “I’ve seen people pass out, hit the floor like a pancake and smash their face open.”
No doubt, safety measures are in place to ensure that production line staff can perform their duties without being injured. But even when workers follow these precautions, accidents can happen.
Certainly, factory shop floors are in dire need of upgrades, and employing technological interventions promises to do just that.
Common Safety Challenges and AI
Safety and efficiency of the workers have been the prime concerns for the manufacturing industry. Keeping its workforce safe with no dip in productivity is the challenge the manufacturing industry is trying to overcome.
It’s noteworthy that factory shop floors are not only busy but are also dangerous places. Most of the manufacturing industries’ accidents happen on the shop floors. Despite that, safety has often taken a backseat. The beginning of the industrial revolution brought the topic of safety to the fore. But the tussle between efficiency requirements and safety continued.
While the companies stated the importance of safety in their messaging, its practical materiality was still a concern. Therefore, the technological advances in the past decade have been focused on bringing safety, efficiency, and productivity under one umbrella.
What does this entail? Well, in short, it’s about reducing the risk of the occurrence of:
- Slips and falls
- Contact injuries with tools, machines, and other equipment
- Overexertion injuries
- Hearing loss due to noise conditions at work
- Abrasions, lacerations, and strains
- Electrocution hazards
- Eye injuries and chemical burns
- Workplace violence
- Ergonomic stressors – caused by postures and repetitive motions, etc.
Enter Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Artificial intelligence has been making waves in numerous other industries, and it was just a matter of time before it found its way into the production line.
The early applications of AI were on two separate extremes – the first application tackled the safety concerns that were simple to identify, for instance – a worker with a missing hardhat. The second application of AI worked out the plant to optimize other external processes.
Lately, though, along with the ever-evolving AI, networking has also improved. Edge devices are also pitching into the amalgamation of this modern technology and paving the way for Augmented Reality or AR. The industry leaders are blending the advantages of AI and AR to enhance productivity and safety on the shop floor.
With AI advancements and the advent of AR and Virtual Reality (VR), businesses could blend all the features, improve safety, and increase workers’ productivity.
Edge AI, Along with AR and VR, Help Combat the Challenges
There are numerous ways AR and VR, along with edge AI, can help combat the challenges like workers’ safety and boost workers’ efficiency, resulting in enhanced productivity.
The manufacturing industry can leverage AR and VR to improve workers’ safety by educating them to identify the situations that can prove to be hazardous and how they can avoid those situations in real-time. Technological advances have led to VR apps built to create awareness and provide workers with real-time visualization of the scenario.
AR/VR-enabled devices can further help boost productivity through various steps like management of inventory, assembling of products, and maintenance of the product remotely.
Safety Management with Artificial Intelligence
Automated warehouse management is one way AI can help businesses manage the safety of their workers. Checking inventory can be tiring when there are loads of products moving through. Additionally, devoting long hours to standing and climbing heights to keep track of the stocks is dangerous. With AI, businesses can automate the process of inventory management, resulting in fewer accidents.
Another instance of how AI can help safety management is by training the software platform to raise a red flag when a worker is flouting safety norms or is not wearing proper safety gear like hardhats, gloves, or a body suit.
Favorably, this safety management endeavor can be more granular. For instance, in addition to detecting whether a worker is wearing gloves or not, it can further identify if the worker is wearing the right set of gloves for the job. All in all, AI can detect gaps in safety procedures. As such, the system in place can flash a warning and alert the on-duty supervisor or managers.
The Bottom Line
The safety of workers is essential for businesses that wish to grow and stay ahead of the competition. And with all the technological advancements AI brings to the table, businesses can tap into the safety advantage.
A leading provider of enterprise application implementation services, Ascentt specializes in Business Intelligence, Data Warehousing, Customer Relationship Management, and Application Integration. We can drive safety initiatives by automating safety management processes, empowering workers through advanced technologies and data analytics, and ensuring compliance with all regulatory requirements.