Connected Worker Solutions
As a 25 + years mineral processing worker before co-founding Universal Site Monitoring (USM), which is a connected worker industrial safety technology businesses - I think it’s great that we are seeing multiple real-time connected worker solutions being innovated to ensure Industry can keep their workers safe.
Historically, we have been able to look after and make considered proactive decisions associated with process health and machinery safety status in real-time, using PLC / DCS systems for many years now. That production monitoring technology has advanced year on year, to ensure continuous improvement in process health maintenance and underpin significant reductions in production losses for most modern processing plants and refineries globally. I remember on one of the many minerals processing sites that I worked on not that long ago, where as soon as the grinding section had an unplanned shutdown, calls would start coming into the grinding control room almost immediately, questioning what was happening, and when we could expect to see production resume.
That sometimes instant reaction to a production loss event was made possible due to the Mill Superintendent / Process Managers etc. being able to remain connected in their offices - with real-time access to the process control data stream. Unfortunately, during my time in mineral processing, we did not have or see the same advancement of real-time health and safety status oversight, for the operations personnel working at the ‘pointy end of the stick’ in that same processing facility.
On several occasions as a Mill Shift Foreman I became concerned with a ‘somethings wrong‘ gut instinct, as we tried to locate a teammate who's processing plant section was showing signs that there was a problem, they were not answering their radio and we had no idea where and how they were. Luckily for me, the majority of those concerning situations ended up okay, with no terrible result at the end of the process - but for some colleagues I worked with over the years, the result was not so good.
I often wonder where we would be now, if 30 years ago industry had also advanced real-time proactive Personal Health & Safety Monitoring capability including; an operators location, continued mobility, slip, trip, or fall event, atmospheric, ambient, and biometric condition, etc. with the big data gathered, correlated, and presented at a control room panel interface in much the same way as a modern PLC / DCS system - maybe we could have been very well advanced on that front to this day and many debilitating injuries or even fatalities could have been avoided altogether. Hindsight aside, fortunately we are now seeing rapid advancement in this connected safety technology space, so at USM we believe the next decade is going to see a massive leap forward and improvement of health and safety results in the industry, which is a real health and safety positive to the industrial workers of the world and their families.
At Universal Site Monitoring we are certain that the greater the global adoption there is of real-time, proactive intervention capable, connected worker solutions - the greater the exponential improvement in health and safety outcomes will be for companies, their workers, and in turn their families. This can be somewhat validated by the productivity improvements that have been made globally by the adoption of modern PLC / DSC systems.
Companies looking to take on board a proactive intervention capable and real-time connected worker solution have much to consider as the risks are many and varied depending on the process they work in. To be completely relevant to any given facility, real-time connected worker solutions must be flexible and capable of delivering time and location stamped data sets that cover site-specific or process-specific risks. The systems developed need to look at much more than one or two risks - they need to have the capability and flexibility to build a monitoring, alerting, and alarming, big data analytical and communications capability that covers the majority of risks on a site.
At Universal Site Monitoring we believe real-time personal health and safety data needs to use big data flow proactively, to prevent situations reaching personal exposure alarm state, significantly reducing the occurrence of incidents affecting personnel in the field.
When control room operators and production supervisors are given advanced technology tools that enable them to proactively look at correlated and trended real-time data, that analyses the majority of the personal health and safety risks on their respective sites, this will allow them to proactively act accordingly. We are sure that Industry will see good proactive safety decisions that prevent developing situations from getting to alarm or incident states in the first instance. That must be the end goal for personal safety monitoring.