How Can Industry 4.0 Technology Reduce Accidents and Injuries?


For manufacturers, one of the benefits of adopting Industry 4.0 technology is a dramatically reduced number of accidents and injuries in their factories. Accidents and injuries are a huge problem in today’s manufacturing industry. Annually, thousands of people are injured in factories in Canada and around the world, costing hundreds of millions of dollars in treatments, rehabilitation, and downtime. Manufacturers who have adopted Industry 4.0 technology have learned that technology can reduce the number of accidents and injuries to zero.



IIIot sensors track environmental conditions and send instant alerts
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIIot) is a major component of Industry 4.0. It makes it possible for everyday objects to communicate with one another and with humans by sending and receiving information. In factories, IIIot sensors (i.e., sensors fitted with computer chips) can be embedded in tools and machinery. These IIot sensors continually track the tool or machine’s environmental conditions, such temperature, pressure, and vibrations. Whenever a value jumps up or below its prescribed parameter, the sensor sends instant alerts to the human supervisor via his or her smartphone, tablet or computer. Thus, managers can take immediate actions to prevent disasters.
 
Robots assist in performing all the dangerous and risky tasks
 Like IIot, robots are a major component of Industry 4.0. With advancements in artificial intelligence and motion technology, they are becoming increasingly like humans. While most robots used in factories are designed to perform routine and precision tasks, there are advanced robots that can assist humans to perform a complex task that requires decision making. Human workers can use these robots as assistants to perform all the dangerous and risky tasks in factories. This eliminates accidents, such as falling from a great height, getting trapped between machines, inhaling toxic gas, and/or catching fire.
 
Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) are used to move heavy loads
 Factory workers are often required to move heavy loads from one location to another in a manufacturing facility. This exposes them to risks of tripping, falling, and being hit by heavy objects daily. Factories can avoid these risks by using automated guided vehicles (AGVs), which are portable robots that navigate by following markers or wires placed on the factory floor. Some of the more advanced AGVs even use vision, lasers or magnets to find their way. Using AGVs eliminates the chances of accidents related to moving heavy materials.
 
Biomedical sensors send instant alerts about workers’ physicals processes
 In a factory, workers are often exposed to extreme environmental conditions, such as an abnormally hot room or a place with high toxicity. Often, failing to pull them out just in time results in injuries and fatalities. In a smart factory, such risks are minimized by making a worker wear biomedical sensors. These sensors constantly track his or her physical processes, such as his or her heart and breathing rates, and send instant alerts to the supervisor if the values cross the threshold of safety. The supervisor can then pull him or her out immediately. Some smart factories require workers to always wear biomedical sensors during the working hours so their health can be constantly monitored.
 
Augmented Reality (AR) can be used in safety training
 Safety training is essential for educating workers on how to keep themselves out of harm’s way. Augmented Reality (AR) can take safety training to the next level. Augmented reality (AR) is similar in concept to virtual reality (VR), but it is more real. In the latter, the user enters a totally virtual world by wearing a visor. In AR, a computer-generated 3-D-animated map of an object is superimposed on the object viewed through a computer screen, smartphone or tablet. The 3-D-animated map is accompanied by labels, instructions, and tips so trainees can get all the information they need without having to refer to their manual.
 
Thus, Internet 4.0 technology can be used very effectively to reduce accidents and injuries in factories.


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