Smart PPE and AI Combine to Enhance Worker Safety
The Smart PPE industry is experiencing massive growth as many companies hunt for ways to create a more sophisticated work experience that enables increased productivity and safety. In fact, a survey of environmental, health and safety directors representing over two dozen countries and 25 industries in 2018 indicated that the PPE market will continue making headway in the next five years with many increasing budgets as new products become available. The market was already at more than $47 billion in 2018.
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Much of this growth will come in the way of smart technology and artificial intelligence and its integration into work wearables and PPE. It’s a natural progression that offers a number of benefits and in the realm of safety, a huge upside. Here are five areas of opportunity you don’t want to miss out on.
In discussions that examine trends in technology and manufacturing regarding the next generation of workers and the evolution of the roles they're hired to fill, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty has coined a new term -"new collar jobs." New collar workers are people who develop the technical and soft skills needed to work in increasingly "smarter" industries through nontraditional education paths. Typically they can to adapt quickly and easily to changing roles based on advancements in technology. Ideally, workers in new collar roles are trained in advanced technologies like cybersecurity, data science and artificial intelligence.
The fact that these new collar workers are expected to be flexible as the employment landscape changes isn't the only thing that's unique about them when compared to workers of previous generations. Many new collar workers are the attend vocational schools, or perhaps have some kind of focused associate's degree in terms of higher education. Less emphasis is placed on achieving a bachelor's degree. Instead practical skills are prized above all else, prioritizing vocational training over a traditional four-year degree.
The Trifecta of a Lean Workplace
If you were to have a discussion about the ideal workplace, the conversation wouldn’t be complete without highlighting the role lean manufacturing, quality and safety would play. Some industry executives may even use these words interchangeably. Yet, the reality is they each have a very specific function and ultimately should be combined into an overarching operations strategy for optimum results.
Let’s start with ‘lean’ since it is the most comprehensive initiative of the three and since the words lean manufacturing are buzzwords tossed around the industry like the waste it aims to eliminate. Its entire focus is on improving efficiency and effectiveness by reducing waste. This management practice is implemented by companies looking to dispose of anything that doesn’t add value, which means any activity or manufacturing material that creates inefficiencies. Check out one of our latest blogs on the biggest offenders and the best ways to address them. The reason lean is referred to as a practice is because it is focused on the entire value chain and not just various points in the production process. It extends beyond improving quality to developing a worker-powered culture committed to continuous improvement. Adopting a lean philosophy and culture leads to production, cost, quality and service improvements.
Want to learn how Corvex can help boost engagement and productivity at the same time? See the Corvex platform in action here.
Engaging Workers Will Improve Quality and Your Bottomline
We’ve heard and seen it time and again. Nothing can stifle a company’s quality faster than a disengaged workforce. Even if you have all the appropriate processes in place but leadership hasn’t created a true culture of quality, where workers feel empowered and engaged, all efforts seem to fall short. Here are three key facets focused on how you can increase quality in the workplace by engaging your workforce.
1. Have Dedicated Quality Professionals Most equate quality to delivering great products, free from defects. That sounds simple but, when you peel back the layers of an organization, it becomes clear that true quality is impacted when you add the ever so important human element into the mix.
These days, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are not only the buzziest of buzzwords, but they are also all around us — affecting our lives in a myriad of ways by leveraging technology to learn about its users and respond using data collection and mapping. From the simple use of advertisements that can be served to individuals based on interests or browse behavior, to the complex infrastructures of GPS applications like Waze, the implications of smart technology that influence user behavior are endless.
We scoured the web to bring you our top five most inspiring motivational speakers and consultants in workplace safety. These individuals are advocating for change, speaking out on safety and health, and helping transform the workplaces of today.
Making it their mission to help companies big and small increase worker safety, here’s a quick snapshot of some of the most inspiring speakers and consultants in the industry today.
On April 9th, 2019 an article by Corvex CEO and President Ted Smith was published in Manufacturing Business Technology. The piece summarized an important cornerstone of the Corvex philosophy - that without real worker engagement digital transformation will stall. The following is an excerpt with a link to the rest of the piece for your convenience.
The Key to Digital Transformation: Engaging Workers
by Ted Smith
Generational changes within the workforce combined with a tightened labor market are causing pressures many manufacturers have never faced before. A drive toward digital transformation is accelerating that rate of change as industries race to stay ahead of the competition and avoid potential competitive disruption. Unfortunately, as an industry, we’re not always meeting these challenges. For example, last year’s report from PulsePoint showed an overall failure rate for digital transformation projects of 84 percent. And it’s not due to lack of investment. More than $1.1 trillion was likely spent on digital projects in 2018, with about a third, over $333 billion (according to IDC) been spent by manufacturers on applications, connectivity services, and IT services.
At the same time, the improvement rates of quality, safety and productivity in particular seem to have stalled. In fact, the Department of Labor reported in February of 2019 that for the past 8 years, productivity has risen a meager 1 percent on average within the industry compared to nearly triple that in previous periods. Safety improvement rates seem to have plateaued as well, and customer complaints continue to be one of the main lagging indicators for quality.
Read the rest of the article on Manufacturing.net here.
How Lean Safety Creates a Culture Shift
Two of the most effective methods used in manufacturing today are Lean manufacturing and Six Sigma. Lean reduces waste in the manufacturing process and the Six Sigma methodology is used to lessen the variation in a process with the expectation that there are never more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities. Both put the spotlight on the customer and emphasize quality, reliability, timely delivery and products that exceed expectation. So what happens when these two approaches are merged together and used to enhance the safety of a workspace?
While there is a great deal of overlap to begin with, both Lean and Six Sigma address business goals from a different perspective.
Lean manufacturing hones in on removing waste in a process where a product is made to given specifications. Most often, there are opportunities to reduce waste in areas like inventory and overproduction or in transportation and movement – like in the case of travel between workstations.
Improving the Quality of Your Workplace
If your company is struggling with an overly complicated manufacturing process, perhaps it’s time to investigate whether waste is an issue. Not only does waste reduction allow you to be more sustainable, but there are production and cost savings as well. We’ve categorized some of the most common types of waste found in the manufacturing industry, according to Reliable Plant magazine.
Transporting and movement – Transferring product or stock from one location to another shouldn’t happen unless it’s necessary. Same goes for having unneeded travel between workstations or distance that makes the overall production process more inefficient. Check to ensure your manufacturing flows properly and you don’t have workers frequently in wait mode because they don’t have everything needed to complete a task. These are red flags that need to be addressed.
Get Ready for the Safety Management Revolution
Look around any public place and you’re bound to spot several people sporting wearable technology. Watches, fitness bands, fashion accessories, sunglasses and clothing now feature high-tech, fully embedded smart devices that can communicate helpful information with us. It’s a trend growing by leaps and bounds every year and is set to be a $60 billion industry by 2022, according to a report by ABI Research. But it’s not just a health and fitness trend or fashion statement. Wearable safety devices such as smartwatches, smart glasses and sophisticated personal protection equipment are making their way into our workplaces, along with safety management software to provide robust safety protocols for companies.
More than 1 in 6 workers report already using wearables on the job, and it’s creating tremendous opportunities to enhance employee experience and output, and better monitor a worker’s health and wellbeing. Research from Deloitte says smart wearable technology in the workforce is ultimately helping companies operate more efficiently. Their “Workforce superpowers: Wearables are augmenting employees’ abilities” study suggests wearables are creating more effective and productive workers, helping them overcome physical limitations and bridging skills gaps while also keeping employees safer.