5 Capabilities of Connected Worker Safety
The reason this technology is spreading so fast?
Connecting frontline workers digitally provides real corporate value, empowering employees to identify and act on issues that impact the bottom line.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at five capabilities of connected worker safety and how they are changing the face of manufacturing today.
- Download a free whitepaper to learn Why and How Digital Safety Inspections Help Manufacturers Work Safer
1. On-the-Spot Information Access
One primary capability of the connected worker is the ability to access a wide variety of information on the plant floor, such as:
- Training materials: Making training available on the plant floor means faster onboarding for increased productivity and lower training costs.
- SOPs and work instructions: The ability to pull up SOPs and work instructions helps minimize process variation, ensuring workers always reference the most updated version of procedures. This also helps improve engagement and retention because workers can be confident they are doing their jobs right.
- Troubleshooting tips: When something unexpected happens, giving operators a searchable database of troubleshooting tips can help minimize equipment downtime.
2. Real-Time, Bi-Directional Communication
More than just easier access to reference materials, the connected worker is empowered with real-time, bi-directional communication capabilities. This has a number of benefits for manufacturers and workers, including increased productivity and faster problem-solving.
- Connecting plant floor workers with management and engineering to troubleshoot critical issues
- Pushing important updates such as quality alerts or schedule changes to front-line workers
- Using live process data to guide action, for example when test data indicates a machine maintenance issue
Integrating communications with processes in these ways helps minimize complicated handoffs and back-and-forth. This accelerates the resolution of problems, in particular root cause analysis, while minimizing downtime and inefficiency.
3. Efficient Issue Management
Connected worker platforms are transforming how plants manage issues and tasks, streamlining the process to ensure accountability and timeliness of closure. These solutions help automate steps in the process such as:
- Capturing data (e.g., process data, ad-hoc observations, and inspection findings)
- Assigning action items and due dates with reminders
- Notifying responsible parties
- Escalating issues to management or sharing updates with others as needed
- Documenting solutions and verification steps
Automated tracking of issues from start to finish with an automated platform keeps problems from falling through the cracks and provides greater visibility in reporting. What’s more, it creates a complete record that can be referenced in the future, for instance when providing information to customers or external auditors.
4. Digital Plant Floor Audits and Inspections
Empowering frontline workers to conduct digital plant floor audits and inspections delivers significant benefits to manufacturers, helping reduce defects, complaints, and compliance issues.
In the automotive industry, for example, digitizing layered process audit programs lets plants schedule, manage and report on hundreds or even thousands of checks per year. For plant floor staff, digital audits and inspections give them the capability to:
- Get notifications and checklists sent straight to their mobile device
- Upload findings in real time and escalate issues as necessary
- Include photos of real conditions on the manufacturing floor, such as when documenting nonconformances requiring action
- Reference photos of good vs. bad within checklists themselves to streamline audits and ensure clarity in expectations
5. Proactive Safety Reporting
Safety reporting is an emerging use case for manufacturers implementing connected worker solutions, and it’s not hard to see why. Safety incidents are a major driver of increased costs and worker retention issues, and even small efforts towards prevention can pay huge dividends.
Examples of how plants are using connected worker solutions to promote a culture of safety include the ability to:
- Log ad-hoc observations digitally in support of behavior-based safety programs
- Centralize data on observations and incidents, including near-misses and good catches, for more proactive risk mitigation
- Notify supervisors immediately of identified hazards needing priority attention
- Track and speed resolution of logged issues and observations
For manufacturers looking to the future of digital transformation, the connected worker is quickly becoming a top priority for driving quality and productivity. As the adoption of these solutions grows, so will the gap between plants using outdated methods to manage processes and those using technology to make processes leaner and more efficient.
- Download a free Root Cause Analysis 101 Guidebook for tips and best practices on more effective problem-solving
Jason Holte is the senior product marketing manager for EASE, the innovative mobile platform that helps manufacturers simplify how they administer, conduct and respond to plant floor audits.
Jason began his career at The Behr Paint Company, a leading North American CPG manufacturer. It was at Behr that he developed a passion for enabling quality, safety, and productivity on the shop floor through the use of real-time insights into process and protocol adherence. He considers digital transformation essential to zero error, zero injury manufacturing.
A California native, Jason is a graduate of Concordia University Irvine.