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Monitoring worker safety in real time with ‘edge AI’

Ramya Ravichandar VP of Product Management FogHorn
By Ramya Ravichandar VP of Product Management, FogHorn

FIELD INTELLIGENCE: Smart Processes, Solutions & Strategies

As businesses across the globe are returning to work amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many manufacturers are reconsidering policies and procedures to ensure worker safety and adhere to new regulations in the post-pandemic environment.

Given the rapid rate at which COVID-19 spreads, will current health monitoring processes be adequate to ensure worker safety in the face of the next global health scare?

Many manufacturers, regardless of market or location, rely on posted notices and manual monitoring to enforce employee health and safety processes.

The potential for human error when it comes to workplace health monitoring is strikingly apparent when considering businesses paid almost $1 billion per week in direct worker compensation costs prior to COVID-19.

The stakes will be even higher in a post-pandemic world.

As markets reopen, businesses will not want to put their workforce at risk—and prospective employees will likely not seek work at companies that are not prioritizing worker health and safety.

Further, many governments, regulatory agencies and municipalities will likely elevate workplace health and safety requirements as organizations go back to work. And manufacturers operating in multiple countries and markets will need to comply with varying regulatory requirements.

A better system is needed to accurately monitor and identify any potential threats to worker safety and health.

Edge computing, specifically artificial intelligence at the perimeter, or “edge AI,” offers the potential to automate monitoring processes in real time, eliminating the risk for human error.

Real-time AI capabilities provide manufacturers with critical sensor data to help identify potential safety hazards and compliance violations within seconds.

By using thermal cameras to monitor and detect elevated employee temperatures, using audio sensors to detect coughs, and employing video streaming to monitor safety procedures and social distancing regulations on the shop floor, manufacturers can leverage “edge AI” to rapidly identify threats to employee health before illnesses have a chance to spread throughout the factory.

Edge AI and advanced analytics software can be easily deployed using video cameras manufacturers already have in place.

In addition, manufacturers can install additional thermal and standard video cameras at critical points on the shop floor, such as high-traffic points, facility entrances and exits and areas where workers come into close contact with one another.

The insights provided by “edge AI” on these visual and audio streams can also be displayed throughout the shop floor and near employee break areas to inform employees of any potential risks and help prevent additional similar safety hazards occurring in the future.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlights many deficiencies in the way businesses across the globe conduct operations, not the least of which is the monitoring and assurance of employee health and safety.

To meet regulatory mandates and attract the needed skilled laborers manufacturers require, businesses need to rapidly find solutions to better monitor health and safety in the workplace.

Luckily, Edge AI provides real-time insights into health risks. It is also easy to implement. And it is readily available for manufacturers seeking to digitize and improve their operations.

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