MANUFACTURING faces challenges due to Covid-19, safely managing premises is a real challenge the industry faces with the likelihood of social-distancing measures continuing for sometime to come.
What’s become clear from conversations we’ve had with businesses of all sizes across the sector, is that while owners and managers understand that technology will play a major role in the safe management of facilites, they are uncertain about what the technological offerings are, how they can apply them to their business’ specific requirements and how they can get a return on their investment in any systems in the long-run. The manufacturing sector is vital for the UK economy so embracing new technologies and harnessing the power of data will help the industry navigate the complex landscape of business post Covid-19.
The first aspect business owners need to examine is how the technology can help them monitor the safe occupancy levels within a building in a simple yet effective way. For example, the sensors installed through the IP camera feeds on the smart building technology we’re using can monitor spaces through algorithms ensuring rooms are not over occupied. The system operates a traffic light system which ensures safe occupancy levels within building and workstations.
Monitoring software offers flexibility because it can be tailored to suit the specific needs of each business. Apart from monitoring occupancy levels, sensors can also help detect cluster areas where people tend to gather providing managers with the insight to put measures in place to ensure social distancing is maintained.
The latest feature is the detection of face masks, to ensure that the workplace remains Covid safe, with alerts to inform when breaches in defined mandatory mask area occur.
In order to abide with GDPR regulations, businesses incorporating visual sensors, need to ensure that no personal data is gathered or stored so the system needs to be able to pick up all the anonymised meta data and automatically clear the personal data. For example, the IP cameras we’re using recognise heads and shoulders but don’t recognise facial features.
The second element businesses need to monitor is the distance between individuals. Through sensors or IP cameras, it is possible to set a safe distance which can be altered when necessary to abide by the changing government guidelines. Audio and visual alarms then alert staff to the problem. The visual alarm can be linked to a monitor on the wall where people can see it. Defined areas can also be set to avoid setting off alerts and alarms. These can include specific desks or workstations. If a venue has already IP cameras in place it is possible to connect software to link to the feed of IP instead of installing new equipment.
In the long term, businesses need to ensure a return on their investment by purchasing monitoring technology that will continue to benefit the business once the Coronavirus pandemic has passed and social distancing is no longer in place.
Monitoring technology can help businesses make the most of their space as it shows them how different areas of the premises are used. Also, linking the technology to the building’s automated management system, which may already be in place to control the lighting or the heating, will ensure the smooth running of the facilities.
Visuals can also provide alerts to staff about areas that need tending to. For example, we can set our software to recognise anything ‘unusual’ within a room or area after it has been vacated such as a white board which hasn’t been wiped clean after a meeting in a conference venue.
When it comes to data, the possibilities are endless. Software can allow businesses to gather information about a wide variety of issues including production, how the weather or specific events affect their industry or trends in how people are interacting.
The implementation of new technology may sound daunting at first, however if you choose a provider that offers a managed a service, they should be able to set the hardware and software up in a way that takes all the hard work out for you. It can be as simple as receiving automated reports that drill into how different elements affect revenue and plan operations around them. Times are changing and it’s important for the manufacturing industry to embrace technological advances to provide their staff and customers with the best possible environment.
Jonathan Harlock is the Managing Director of Sypro Ltd. which specialises in monitoring control analytic software and hardware. Sypro Ltd. is the UK distributor of the UbiqiSense system. https://www.syproltd.com/socialdistancing