Ensuring worker safety for the technician of the future

How IBM is helping market innovators improve worker safety with industrial IoT

The National Safety Council hosted their annual NSC Congress and Expo event in San Diego, California from September 9 to 11. This event is the world’s largest safety, health and environmental confab, serving the billion-dollar occupational safety and health market. The IBM Maximo® team was there to talk about the technician of the future. We were joined by a group of amazing business partners — organizations that are collaborating with us to put smart to work for worker safety and productivity within the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

How do we keep technicians safe?

Field force planners, operations leaders, and safety officers face daunting challenges. They need to ensure worker safety while improving productivity, lowering costs and achieving compliance. They know that the right IoT data and insights are crucial for the technician of the future to be safe and successful on the job every day. I had the opportunity to speak with  IBM business partners who attended NSC Expo 2019. And I’d like to share with you what they told me.

“I don’t want workers distracted with technology or the integration hurdles of deploying things in the field.”-Jason Lee

Jason Lee is the founder of Smart Cone Technologies Inc. The company provides a sensor gateway solution that helps make the work environment safer within industrial companies and government agencies. Their innovation can be rapidly deployed in remote locations at a third of the cost of traditional site technology.

Jason Lee of Smart Cones. The company philosophy is: Easy to assemble, hard to break.

The cone is built with the company’s proprietary Click IoT modular assembly system. A halo of sensors provides LIDAR, visual recognition, RFID, sound or other features specific to the needs of each particular site or business. The appropriate communication protocol (900Mhz LoRaWan, Wi-fi, Bluetooth, MQTT) brings sensor data together in one platform. To complete the solution, IBM Maximo provides a flexible hardware platform with edge computing and smart asset management software.

“We spend our time thinking about the technician of the future.”

Jason says the goals of Smart Cones are to provide access to information, humanize technology and put the technician first.

“This means if I’m running a company, and I want this company to get work done efficiently and safely, I don’t want workers distracted with technology or the integration hurdles of deploying things in the field,” Jason says. “This is what we’ve been living with over the past ten years and we cannot have this preventing workers from doing their job.”

He insists that complex technology does not make a worker more effective or safer. That’s why an integrated solution and platform, like Smart Cone with IBM Maximo®, helps a connected worker more easily achieve their goals. Data collection isn’t just for the sake of record keeping, tracking and reporting, but to protect the employee. “This is the real technician of the future,” Jason says.

Dean Willard created an intelligent exit strategy

Dean Willard worked in private equity for the industrial, healthcare and aerospace sectors before he discovered a unique opportunity. Together with his daughter, Emily, he founded Willard IoT, and developed the smart exit sign. Willard IoT worked with ARROW and IBM to create this revolutionary device designed for highly regulated facilities such as health care facilities and hospitals. At its core is the IBM Maximo asset management solution.

Willard IoT’s smart exit signs help organizations achieve compliance using automated acoustic sensors, cameras and other technology features. For example, RFID tracking provides safer and more efficient environments through the real-time location of assets, personnel and patients.

Dean Willard

Dean Willard of Willard IoT. The company’s smart exit signs opened up new ways to achieve compliance.

Better technology enables better technicians

Because healthcare is highly regulated, it’s a monumental task to achieve safety compliance every day. But it’s absolutely essential to do so. Within each hospital, there are about 450 pieces of life safety equipment. When a health care provider can track them all, and determine not just their location, but their condition and usage history, they increase operational efficiency. Even nurse calls can be improved through a variety of devices that determine the urgency and basis of the patients’ need, and deploy the appropriate staff member. Willard IoT technology, with IBM Maximo, enables this. The result is better accuracy and satisfaction while helping providers achieve regulatory compliance.

Technology protects from head to toe

Mark Bernstein, CEO of Wearable Technologies, founded the company five years ago, His mission was to help make workers safer through wearable sensors that connect people in the field to site offices and control rooms. Sensors that monitor noise, gas, location and other environment factors connect through a hub that brings data together to monitor real-time worker safety and productivity.

These smart PPE (personal protective equipment) garments have applications for millions of industrial workers in the oil and gas, construction, transport and shipping industries. The garments use the Eleksen wearable hub to pair with sensors simply by touching any hardware device. This hub uses 2G, 4G; any variety of radios to communicate as a dedicated safety device to build an accurate picture of worker safety for the site control room. For example, for a gas sensor, the system can identify who is using it. It can also indicate where they are using it, and monitor the data stream in real-time.

Maximo Worker Insights provides predictive analytics to examine data and provide protection based on the individual worker, the job, and what is happening in the work environment.

Mark Bernstein of Wearable Technologies.

The technician of the future may be a robot

Mark Bernstein predicts a future that includes more robotics and automation. The trend is unstoppable, he says, and the worker of the future will use technology like augmented reality and digital twins. He also predicts low cost enhancements that raise the bar of worker productivity and safety. He believes that the rise of the robots will cause the technician of the future to become more specialized.

IBM Maximo helps enhance safety and productivity in the workplace

At IBM, we’re passionate about improving workplace safety and performance in every industry. We’ve partnered with some of the best and the brightest health, safety and environment experts in the world. We help them develop new tools and capabilities to improve leading and lagging indicators. And IBM Maximo® is an integral element in each of these solutions.

Learn more about IBM Maximo Worker Insights and IBM Maximo HSE. And see how others are successfully using Maximo solutions.

Save the date

If you have more questions, or if you’d like to experience a full spectrum of IBM Maximo’s capabilities, save the date for IBM IoT Exchange, to be held in Orlando, Florida in March 2020.

And, we will see you next fall at NSC Expo!