Monitoring the Knowledge Fitness of people on the Smart Manufacturing work floor

According to the famous research firm Gartner, there will be nearly 30 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020. These things are physical objects embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity which allow them to exchange data with other devices and also with people to allow for better decision making. For example:

  • The fitness tracker you’re wearing on your wrist monitors your calorie burn during the day

  • Smart thermostat that gives you statistics about all the types of energy usage in your house and adapt to actual usage

  • Smart manufacturing is using sensors, intelligent motors, computerized controls and software to monitor the manufacturing process

So the Internet of Things is about making things smarter to make life easier. We have smart phones, smart TV’s, smart cars, smart devices. But does it also help making people smarter? Isn’t that what it is all about in the end, the benefit that all of this technology provides to people?

One of the ideas is to make workers more fit and safe for their daily work which generates added value for the organization or a company as a whole. Suppose workers in a dangerous factory environment are wearing activity trackers* that sense when they perform tasks incorrectly, in ways that could endanger themselves or other workers? The activity tracker could submit data about an employee’s erroneous action back to the company’s learning system, and the system could automatically assign that employee an interactive refresher video on safety procedures for that specific machine. The interactive video tracking system provides management information about the effect of the intervention.

Another idea is that the machine being used by the worker knows who is working with it via a communication protocol and also knows the experience and skill level of this person. The data from the machine is used to prioritize learning activities such as interactive videos about a specific work instruction for a part of the operation of the machine. And it can also trigger the need for development of additional learning materials for other work instructions and measure the overall effectiveness of the knowledge transfer. This allows operational managers and CEOs to watch their teams’ knowledge and skills grow as well as safety and operational efficiency increase.

So, this is how Smart Manufacturing benefits not just the hard factors such as the efficiency of the factory and machines, but also benefits the all-important soft skills components such as knowledge and skills as well as safety of people.