IoT is Driving an EHSQ Revolution!
Alan L. Johnson
The rise of Internet of Things (IoT) devices is here and it's connecting everything! Environmental, Health, Safety, & Quality (EHSQ) professionals better stay in tune with these developments or they will see opportunities to elevate the profession go by the wasteside. Fundamentally, IoT and AI are bringing seemingly uncontrollable parts of the business out of the obscure grey and into black and white. This can mean serious operational efficiencies, new revenue generating insights, and further market expansion. Some EHSQ examples include:
There are plenty of examples of companies using IoT already to predict maintenance.
Source: IoT Analytics
The ability to make variable operational costs more fixed through sensors is saving customer and companies serious money.
> Predictive Maintenance is one of the leading use cases for the Industrial Internet of Things and Industry 4.0. Our recent analysis suggests that the market for predictive maintenance applications is poised to grow from $2.2B in 2017 to $10.9B by 2022, a 39% annual growth rate.
Statistical process control (SPC) methods have evolved over time since being pioneered by Walter A. Shewhart at Bell Laboratories in the early 1920s. However, SPCs are fallible as we've observed several times in the past month:
Source: CT Post
Source: USA Today
But recently there has been an aggressive shift towards IoT in quality and according to IBM:
> In the factory and critical manufacturing steps, QEWS analytics can be applied to monitor equipment operational parameters such as temperature, pressure, speed, air-flow, and humidity in real-time to identify when parameters are trending beyond prescribed calibrations that could result in substandard products or components.
While the current mainstream applications are around critical manufacturings steps; IoT is flooding into other parts of the quality ecosystem.
Real-time Inventory Control:
There are numerous use cases where inventory surplus and shortage create disruption in the upstream or downstream supply chain. IoT for real-time inventory control can help in these cases. The rise of the digital shelf and even robotics are creating a wave of new work-flows using IoT.
> There has been a lot of talk about the Internet of Things (IoT) lately, and how it is going to greatly impact our lives in ways that we can’t even imagine. DHL and Cisco are predicting IoT to give supply chain and logistics operations a $1.9 trillion boost over the next ten years. By 2020, it is expected that 50 billion devices will be connected to the IoT in comparison. That’s a lot compared to 15 billion today.
To ignore the importance of inventory controls and the true efficiencies of JIT is to have your distribution and logistics processes leap-frogged by competition.
Probably one of the most convincing uses of IoT is in keeping employees safe. Sensors can relay information about worker health, movements, location, and proximity among many other things.
> From factories, plant facilities, and construction sites to warehouses, airports, and oil rigs (and a lot more), there is hardly a shortage of worksite environments that pose potential danger to workers. But by using emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and pervasive cloud connectivity, organizations can now pull in work environment data, analyze it, and respond in ways to help keep workers safe and healthy.
Companies are increasingly looking at IoT for monitoring long-term health tracking, proximity to hazards, precise location analysis in case of emergency, and to improve compliance.
While one of the more emerging areas using IoT is ergonomics it is poised to be one of the better areas for the health of workers. Imagine a VeriDesk that raises as you approach or a body suit that corrects your posture when lifting a box? What seemingly are things from science fiction are making it mainstream. For example look at the examples on EHS Today
Source: UnCaged Ergonomics
IoT in Ergonomics is poised to revolutionize the way we look at Productivity, Risk, Insurance and a variety of other worker environmental factors.
While we are still in the early days of infrastructure builds to support secure, scalable networks of IoT devices, and there are issues, there is no doubt that everything in our lives (that is not already) will soon be connected. It is incumbent for EHSQ professionals to uths identify the IoT opportunities within their organization and capitalize on these trends before their industry rivals do.
Reality Changing Observations:
Q1: What IoT initiatives does your company have under way?
Q2: What are the barriers you see to increasing your company's spend on IoT?
Q3: What are some of the tangible benefits your company will obtain with IoT?