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COVID-19 Accelerates Investment In Connected Worker Solutions For EHS And Operations Use Cases

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COVID-19 Accelerates Investment In Connected Worker Solutions For EHS And Operations Use Cases

Eighty-five per cent of the 250 operations, maintenance and engineering executives in the Verdantix Operational Excellence survey 2020 reported that COVID-19 had driven new investment in connected worker solutions for health and safety. Twenty-six per cent of interviewees reported new investment in connected worker solutions at all relevant sites, with 29% noting new investment at a few sites and a further 30% planning to trial the technology.

Connected worker solutions have been implemented by industrial firms to support a variety of usage scenarios during this pandemic. Reduced capacity for on-site staff has encouraged firms to consider connected worker technologies which allow workers to act more autonomously while facilitating data transmission between remote workers and control room operators. Functionality which has been especially valuable during the pandemic includes location tracking, through both smartphones and industrial wearables. Location tracking allows businesses to monitor potential contact events and trace workers who have come into proximity with one another, helping firms maintain a virus-free site. GPS-ready connected worker wearables include Guardhat’s smart hard hats, as well as Blackline Safety’s G7 range of lone worker monitoring wearables.

Another key usage scenario for connected worker solutions during the pandemic has been for vital signs monitoring. Vital signs monitoring can alert control rooms to employees with abnormal vital signs such as blood oxygen level and heart rates, assisting in the identification of COVID-19 symptoms to prevent workplace outbreaks. Damstra Technology’s Solo solution provides user biometrics taken from wearables including the Damstra Solo Watch alongside consumer offerings such as the Samsung Galaxy Watch or Apple Watch.

Alongside EHS functionality, connected worker solutions are being used for maintenance and operations functions during the pandemic. Remote assistance via augmented reality wearables allows workers to reliably solve maintenance issues via remote experts, who cannot visit sites owing to COVID-19 restrictions. Vendors of remote assistance software include AMA Xperteye, Librestream, REFLEKT and Scope AR. Another growing connected worker use case is the digitization of inspection protocols. TenForce’s Utility connected worker solution allows field workers to create inspection forms on smartphones and tablets before uploading them via the TenForce mobile app.

With 79% of survey respondents highlighting connected worker solutions as very significant or significant to their operational excellence initiatives over the next two years, the adoption momentum of connected worker solutions precipitated by the pandemic looks set to continue. Firms exposed to the technology owing to COVID-19 restrictions will look to upscale adoption of connected worker solutions as regions globally open up as vaccination programs gather pace.

For more information on connected worker solutions read the following Verdantix reports: Strategic Focus: How COVID-19 Boosted Digital Strategies For Industrial FirmsThe Business Case For Enhancing EHS Processes With Industrial WearablesSmart Innovators: Augmented Reality Solutions For Remote AssistanceStrategic Focus: Wearables For Fatigue Monitoring

Hugo Fuller

Industry Analyst

Hugo is an industry analyst in the Verdantix Operational Excellence practice. His research agenda explores the technologies within the extended reality and connected worker market, alongside enterprise asset management software. In advisory, his work includes go-to-market, growth strategy and long-term research partnerships.