Social distancing and real-time locating systems
Example of how a real-time locating system (RTLS) enabled a facility to stay safe with social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s been a turbulent time during the COVID-19 pandemic. One bad piece of news seemingly follows another. While we’re very lucky to be able to keep operations running from our home office, for many of our customers this is not possible.
We naturally have been following the developments in society, politics and the economy with highest interest. Exchanging ideas and thoughts on a daily basis on how to adapt to the constantly changing circumstances.
Consider the use case of ASM where we had implemented in a production plant in 2019 was “extended” and compensated by using real-time locating systems (RTLS) to help work through the pandemic.
Keeping production running and protecting employees at the same time
In addition to optimizing shop floor utilization, the client is now using real-time localization technology to control social distancing on the shop floor. To be specific, a project manager of ASM said, “We must ensure social distancing in order to protect our employees. But we also have to keep production running at the best possible rate to get through this crisis economically. So, on the one hand, we have asked our employees to always keep several meters distance on the shop floor. On the other hand, they should also avoid meeting at shift changes.”
Our freedom of movement is limited, but our creativity is not!
The employees wear small sensors with UWB radio technology. Anchors installed under the ceiling detect their movements in a defined area. All data are recorded and processed in real time by the RTLS. At the same time they are provided within a real-time IoT platform for analysis and processing with external data from third-party systems.
How anonymous worker data can help employees
It is important employees are comfortable with the technology and not monitored during off time. The implementation of the use case was carried out in close cooperation with ASM’s workers’ council.
In addition, we made sure that the transaction data is recorded anonymously by not being able to link the sensors with information about their wearers. This way, valuable live insights are provided to the controlling department, which helps them to react quickly and at the same time on a factual basis to an ever faster moving market.
As a result, planning errors can be prevented and jobs be secured. And the current situation: ASM employees are being protected against infection with the globally rampant SARS-CoV‑2 virus by using KINEXON RIoT.
The use case was quickly converted to ensure social distancing on the shop floor and thus keep operations running at their best. Of course this is only a small side story. But it should encourage us to remain creative!
Now we are really learning about digitization!
The potential of digitization does not end at the home office. And digitization is not in its final form. It’s a constant process. It’s not a like a TV that you turn on and the entertainment begins.
It is more similar to building an orchestra where you can select your instruments, determine what they will play, and arrange them in a selective way. Music can be noise but it can also heal.
Similarly, a lot of “noise” is also made with digital tools. Now is the time to learn, use and arrange these tools properly. Consider questions such as:
- What about zones around employees that give acoustic signals as soon as a colleague on the shop floor approaches too closely?
- What about automated access controls to ensure there are never more than x people in a room?
- What about automated signals if an employee does not take the direct route to the sink after a certain action to wash their hands immediately?
- How about if employees wear our UWB sensors visibly and see they flash as soon as a colleague is not maintaining the correct ”social distance?”
- Or in clinics: What about autonomously-controlled AGVs that bring food to patients to relieve the clinic staff? Or just to pick up the empty trays?
This is only a small insight into our recent internal conversation. We all want to overcome this crisis quickly and there are many digital tools at our fingertips that can quickly establish new processes.