Keeping Electronic Components Workers safe using IoT Technology

Covid-19 pandemic has exposed weakness in workplace safety for electronic components supply chain workers mainly around presence and detection of contagions. In this article we will highlight trends before Covid, now, and future solutions that could apply mainly in most work environments without offering a “one size fits all solution for a covid safe environment”.

Although we have seen a shift in behaviour and habits since lockdowns and isolations becoming the norm, IoT technology to support workplace safety must place certain elements into consideration including, layout, space, power supply, communication systems and node points, security and the general environment.

This article has been written in consideration mainly to indoor setups like factories, warehouses, office spaces, institutions of learning etc.

What IoT Presence detection technology was used pre-Covid?

We will use an example of a factory for better explanation of IoT technology used before the pandemic. In companies operating CNC precision machinery majority of them had pressure sensor pads fitted on the floor around the machinery and if someone comes towards the proximity region when the equipment being used is active, the equipment turns off as a safety measure to avoid injury since its detected a breach of safety within its perimeter.

Other forms of technology used were infrared, motion detectors, image recognition using cameras used mainly on cutting tools to avoid dismembering workers etc.

What IoT presence detection technology is being used now?

We have seen an increase in facial recognition technology, mainly to login movements of workers, their interactions and also to measure their temperature especially when they report to work. This touchless technology is highly beneficial in the workplace environment and assist both workers and administration implement social distancing and disease spread prevention. However, in areas like factories where a lot of interaction is required using wearable technology that act like GPS trackers but using Bluetooth technology can be more effective in social distancing enforcement and aid in tracing people you have been in contact if an outbreak occurs in the workplace. In a practical scenario using Bluetooth low energy (BLE) proximity devices can assist employees reduce the risk of contact as you get a notification when you’re breaching the safe distance rules.

Since BLE technology collect data if management want to trace areas that could have potentially been infected by a worker, they can route a map based on data collected by beacons setup across the facility. All these IoT technology is being used in factories around the big factories in the world.

The embedding of voice recognition is great addition as workers can now interact with the equipment without touching them. This can now be programmed to individual voices to avoid conflicting commands when several operators are within proximity of the same machine.

Whats the Future of workplace safety?     

IoT is fast changing, and today’s trends are certainly going to be different in a few years. The introduction of industrial IoT and building automation has been a positive addition to keeping the economy running and most importantly workers safe.

Technologies that promote less physical interaction with people and help keep social distancing are set to be the norm, the use of wireless equipment including headsets with facilities is a trend that is hear to stay.

What electronic components will aid IoT even further?

A quick list of trending parts include:

  • Optical sensors
  • Radar and LiDAR parts
  • Pressure sensors
  • Microhpone arrays
  • RFID parts
  • Wi-Fi & Bluetooth components

Article complied and written by writer George Faraday