With disruption across different sectors being the theme of unLTD this month, our technology columnists Highlander look at the innovative tech that is shaking up the workplace.

Business owners and employees are much more aware of air quality since COVID-19. The pandemic made us all think about making sure our workplace was properly ventilated, but industrial environments pose even more risks. On-site workers are at risk from temperature, humidity, indoor air quality and gases that build up, such as CO2. Elevated levels can have a negative impact on your team’s wellbeing, comfort, and cognitive abilities.

The widespread use of new products and building materials, as well as improved insulation for energy efficiency, can result in increased concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs originate mainly from paints and solvents, carpets and furniture, and cleaning agents and are also emitted by humans.

Exposure to high levels of VOCs can be avoided or significantly reduced by regular ventilation, air purification and removal of strong VOC sources. The Total VOC (TVOC) concept has been established as a practical time and cost-effective method of surveying indoor environments for contamination.

Our range of sensors enables measurement of TVOC levels and thus helps to increase the efficiency of ventilation and air purification and increases awareness of VOC sources and indoor air pollution.

Sustainability

With costs of energy on the up, even the least eco-conscious out there are taking a harder look at making a workplace more sustainable and eco-friendlier in the long run.

Power Distribution Monitors (PDM)

PDM’s measure energy at mains, sub-meter or at circuit and asset level.

The PDM securely streams consumption data to our cloud-based platform in real-time. Providing valuable and timely insight in to where and when your business is using energy.

With the ability to reduce wasted energy usage and monitor plant equipment to reduce peak usage charges, sub-meter energy monitoring can save companies over 30 per cent.

You see an exact breakdown of when and where your energy is being consumed, at machine or circuit level, in real time.

Barrett Steel, a local client, operates a number of energy-intensive, critical assets. Being able to set up alerts to inform maintenance staff when a machine starts using increased amounts of energy can help to ensure hardware failures are reduced. The operational cost saving of this alone can be invaluable.

You’ll see an itemised bill that is not dissimilar to the one from your current energy supplier. Then on top of this a detailed report will analyse the data to tell you when you might be wasting and where. This breakdown can be as detailed as you want – you can even look at specific circuit groups and compare historical periods. You’ll be able to optimise your energy usage from this. It goes without saying that we will help you to comply with CRC and ESOS and will therefore improve your public image and carbon footprint.

Computer Vision

Computer vision is a field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that enables computers  and systems to derive meaningful information from digital images, videos and other visual inputs — and take actions or make recommendations based on that information.

Quality Assurance

With the utilisation of computer vision, it is possible to perform real-time automated visual inspections in every
single item that
is being produced. This is also utilised to detect defective items and categorise them by custom visual criteria, as well as identify pattern changes or additional anomalies. This impacts wastage across a business and can mean not just reduced costs during manufacturing but avoiding expensive product recalls further down the line.

Automated Security Cameras

Computer vision can be utilised with outdoor cameras to automatically detect threats to the security of the premises. The system can alert the on-site security team a security breach is detected.

This includes surveillance of access points, monitoring of barriers and perimeters, suspicious behaviour detection, vandalism detection and more. Some systems go as far as detecting movement, recognising faces, or sharing thermal estimations.

Personal Protective Equipment Compliance

Existing or new CCTV feeds can be utilised in combination with the latest in Artificial Intelligence (AI) to automatically detect and alert the site manager based on specific requirements.

For example, the use of cameras indoors to automatically monitor use of safety equipment such as helmets and visors.

While the fear of a surveillance state means that these technologies are sometimes controversial, their implementation in monitoring temperature for signs of infection during the pandemic and even the ability to recognise a lost child in a shopping centre means they provide solutions that will undoubtedly become more utilised and ultimately keep people safe.

Asset Tracking and Management

Ultra-Wide Band (UWB) allows real-time tracking of any physical asset in a facility to define its location. Materials or products can be tracked to monitor their flow throughout the production process.

By utilising UWB technology it is possible to provide full real-time visualisation of key assets, tools and materials across your entire facility. All tracked assets are visualised on your facility plan with one-foot (30 cm) accuracy and displayed in real-time on any device. Knowing exactly where assets are greatly reduces the time spent looking for missing or misplaced assets or all rejects from a single batch.

Having full insights into where assets were in the past and what their flow across the facility was helps to plan processes better, monitor inventory, reduce search times, limit bottlenecks and streamline workflows.