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What really matters

During the past months thousands of frontline industrial workers ensured that much-needed products made it onto our store shelves, into our pantries, and more. We know their efforts made a big difference. For all the predictions of automation taking over industrial jobs, robots weren`t and aren’t saving us in times like these. Production needs people. Hence, across the industry, the top priority right now is tackling the same challenge, “How do I keep my employees healthy and safe and my operations productive?” In that effort, modern digital tools for industrial workers play a vital role.

The shift to digital connectivity to keep plant workers safe

Currently, industrial companies need to adapt quickly to the new pressures and requirements from the COVID-19 outbreak. Therefore, this is the time for cloud-based platforms that are fast, flexible and can scale quickly. These solutions enable companies to quickly adapt to this pandemic, changing operations accordingly. The easiest way to achieve this is to roll out new standard operating procedures (SOPs) on mobile devices across multiple shifts and sites, advising frontline worker with rich, guided instructions – think inline videos, photos, GIFs and PDFs. While these digital instructions not only can readily be changed as the situation evolves, interactive forms and checklists ensure that local regulations and standards are adhered to.

One of many examples for this are the current rules for social distancing: Right now, shift handovers and collaboration must require people to stay at least six feet apart, even when factories are operating at full capacity. Further examples for safety regulations that can be incorporated in digital SOPs include reminders to workers to wash their hands, wearing the right personal protective equipment when operating in certain areas, or making them watch a training video to operate a machine they are not familiar with in the plant. Also site entry and visitor compliance can be managed a whole lot stricter, when and where needed.

Remote validation and collaboration to ensure procedural adherence

Of course, being able to validate safety and procedural compliance is more complicated now that most regions are mandating that non-essential workers work from home. Thus, remote checks have become the new norm, for instance through video calls. As far as legally permissible, industrial companies even collect and analyze worker data using dashboards to validate and analyze compliance in real-time allowing managers to send an alert to a frontline worker with rich, guided instructions.

I’m humbled by the incredible work being done across the industry seeking solutions to protect the health and safety of workers onsite. While these are undoubtedly tough times, our industry has a lot to be proud of right now.