With technology advancing at a rapid rate, wearable devices present a major business opportunity for those in the manufacturing industry. By 2020 it is expected that about 75 million wearables will have entered the workplace. Statistics show that by connecting workers to one another and to resources, 50% of companies are expecting a boost in productivity. There are numerous key areas in manufacturing where wearables can provide positive benefits and improve operational processes.
The Key Benefits
By bringing wearables into the work space the training process can become more efficient and tailored to the employee, by overlaying crucial information onto the real world. Smart glasses that utilize augmented reality (AR) technology can create simulated work environments, demonstrating to new employees how to correctly navigate the production line and perform tasks on the job. This in turn saves on the time needed to train new employees and reduces the cost of onboarding.
Streamlined Processes and Increased Productivity
With a larger demand for products to be made faster and cheaper, and a shortage of employees in the industry, there is a constant strain placed upon employer and employee to deliver. Wearables speed up the production process, cut down on costs, and alleviate unnecessary strain on workers. These devices can create a hands-free working environment, collecting and sharing data on a local network. Businesses can design and test their products in simulated environments, increasing design accuracy and enabling them to identify issues before they arise. By doing this digitally, physical prototypes are removed thus cutting down on development time and production costs. On the job, employees can utilize headgear to report problems that arise on the supply line quickly. This headgear can also be used by employees to find products faster, facilitating the next steps in the process in less time.
Safety and Situational Awareness
By gaining insights into their business operations in real-time, employers are empowered to make smart decisions and ensure the safety of their employees. In order to prevent accidents in the factory, employers can monitor workers and vehicles on their wireless infrastructure. Employees could wear clothing equipped with GPS sensors and smart helmets to identify and report situations to this network to notify other employees and managers of any issues. This helps workers to be more aware of what’s going on in the warehouse. For example, if there is a chemical spill, exposure to radiation, or poor oxygen conditions. In addition to smart helmets and sensors, there is also the Chairless Chair, a harness that workers wear that can be converted to a chair. This helps workers to reduce the stain on their limbs from standing for long periods of time and promotes comfort and good posture.
The Bottom Line
In today’s fast paced world, businesses need to leverage new technologies in order to be proactive in the market. Wearables have the potential to reduce the use of resources needed to train new employees, prevent injuries on the job and boost productivity. These factors are crucial to the overall consumer experience, which in the manufacturing industry is a key competitive differentiator. With numerous innovations on the market targeted towards improving business-critical operations, it is important that companies focus on specific outcomes, in order to strategically implement these technologies and succeed.
For more information on wearable devices check out our whitepaper Putting Wearables to Work.