Indoor Positioning Heatmaps— How to Improve Health, Safety, and Productivity in the Manufacturing Environment
As we digitise and automate the world over, it seems we introduce the word “smart” as a prefix to any digitally enhanced product, service or facility to mark its entrance to the new digital era—or perhaps to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Smart factories are no different, marking the evolution from the outdated processes of yesteryear to the highly digitised and connected facilities of the future. So what are smart factories and what is the use case for an indoor positioning heatmap?
What is a smart factory? We will give you two explanations.
First, the highfalutin explanation for the esoteric reader.
Smart Factories integrate data from system-wide physical, operational, and human assets. To produce flexible systems that can self-optimize, perform across a broader network, self-adapt and learn from new conditions in real-time. The result can be a more efficient and agile system, less production downtime, and a greater ability to predict and adjust to changes in the facility or broader network. Possibly leading to better positioning in the competitive marketplace. If you liked this explanation, you can read more here.
Second, the explanation that you will more likely remember.
A smart factory represents a leap forward from more traditional automation to a fully connected and flexible system.
Many manufacturers are already leveraging components of a smart factory in areas such as advanced planning and scheduling. Using real-time production and inventory data, or augmented reality for maintenance. But a truly smart factory is a more holistic real-time integration of people, processes, and automation.
In this article, we will illuminate the following:
- What is a Heatmap?
- What value will you get from an Indoor Positioning Heatmap?
- Health, Safety, and Productivity for the Manufacturing Industry
- Indoor Positioning Heatmaps with Bluetooth Beacon Automapping
- What’s next?
1. What is a Heatmap?
A heatmap is a graphical representation of data that indicates how visitors are distributed across a site. There are numerous use cases such as a factory, warehouse, production facility, museum, shopping mall or even a city. The areas within a site that attract the most frequent foot traffic are considered hot-spots and are condensed into “hot areas” which are represented by the yellow to red colour. On the opposite, the blue to green colour or so-called “cooler areas” represent locations with less frequent foot traffic and fewer visitors. The density of visitors over the site is represented by the blue-green-yellow-red spectrum of colours, which makes visual interpretation simple and intuitive. Here is a basic example of how a heat map can provide information that is simple yet insightful.
2. What Value Will You Get From an Indoor Positioning Heatmap?
Indoor positioning heatmaps seem like an interesting concept. However, further to being interesting they have the power to simply and intuitively deliver insightful information that functions as a real-time decision-making tool. Allowing supervisors, managers, and operations as a whole to be more agile and adaptive than ever before.
Let’s look at this use case as a scenario, where the value of indoor positioning heatmaps can be illustrated:
Your factory, warehouse, production facility experiences movement of people and things (goods and equipment) throughout the workday. Your key performance metrics have been defined to meet your corporate objectives. You are tracking metrics such as production volume, production downtime, production costs, defect density, rate of return, right first time, asset turnover, unit costs, return on assets, maintenance costs and likely a few additionals. Great, you are tracking all the “active” elements of your operations.
However, there are still untracked and unmeasured “passive” operational elements in your factory, warehouse, production facility. The movement of people and things. You might be thinking “who cares about the movement of people and things. All I really care about is hitting my numbers”. Okay, but what if your “passive” operational elements are getting in the way of optimising your “active” operational elements? Well, you don’t know what you don’t know. Meaning, only through the integration of physical, operational, and human assets will you actually know if you are operating with optimal efficiency. Anything less is succumbing to your blind spots.
Here is a great blog that covers indoor location analytics.
Also, here about how an indoor location solution was designed for Daimler, the manufacturer of famous Mercedes-Benz cars.
3. Health, Safety, and Productivity for the Manufacturing Industry
A smart factory does not necessarily translate into “dark” or “lights out” factory, as people still play a key role in operations. Therefore, taking real-time data visualisations to understand more about employee movements, drives transparency, which ultimately leads to greater Health & Safety responsiveness and improved productivity.
Insights into which floor areas are more popular than others and what paths employees are taking presents real-time data. This allows for the generation of a density histogram that shows the percentage of area occupied by your employees. Knowing where your employees are and why they are there makes for powerful insights. Translating into a broader understanding of your floor space and operational flow. Further to this, making sense of health & safety shortcomings and opportunities.
Every aspect of the smart factory generates reams of data. Which, through continuous analysis reveals employee performance issues that can require some kind of corrective optimisation. Which can yield greater overall efficiency. Efficiency should translate into lower downtime, optimised capacity, and reduced changeover time, among other potential benefits.
Optimised processes traditionally lead to more cost-efficient processes. Those with more predictable requirements, more effective hiring and staffing decisions, as well as reduced process and operations variability. A better-quality process could also mean an integrated view of employee movements with rapid, no-latency responses to sourcing needs—thus lowering costs further.
4. Indoor Positioning Heatmap with Bluetooth Beacon Automapping
Bluetooth beacon automapping allows indoor location software to position people and objects down to a few meters. Those interactive locations can then be used to give employees a truly personalized history, to improve their health, safety, and productivity when within the job site. Indoor positioning via UWB beacons provides the best-fit solution as GPS signal gets lost in indoor spaces—UWB Beacons automatically create a floor plan with an inch-level precision. They allow for beacons to very precisely measure distances between each other and use this information to automatically create a detailed floor plan. Compared to alternative methods, this is a time-saving process. Especially in large spaces where you’ll simply place the beacons on the walls and let them do the work for you. You can find some more details about automapping in this article and in the video below:
The exact precision will depend on a lot of factors, such as the shape and size of your space, furniture, number of people and Bluetooth-enabled devices and so on. On average though, you should be able to get the precision down to 2 meters which will work great for most of the deployments. This will allow you to easily detect when employees approach specific locations. You’ll also be able to effectively analyse personnel traffic and make informed real-time decisions.
Opposed to a mobile device, the system could be integrated with a sensory activated wristband (worn by employees during each job shift) that collects data, such as, location, temperature, and vibrations . Just remember that a great user experience and respecting your employee’s privacy comes first. Therefore, these trackable wristbands would strictly track employees in the actual workspace and not track employees in restrooms, breakrooms, changing rooms, off-site, etc.
5. What Next?
There are countless use cases for this indoor positioning technology, such as hospitals—finding doctors, offices—finding conference rooms, navigation in shopping malls and immersive museum experiences. These are just a few examples of how an indoor positioning system can improve the user experience or make business more efficient.
We at ClockInstant define ourselves as a startup that focusses on productivity growth solutions across industries. Our prioritised use case for indoor positioning technology being—Indoor positioning heatmaps to improve health, safety, and productivity in the manufacturing environment.
The full extent of your smart factories digitised arsenal my not only include indoor positioning heatmap. However, as our more memorable explanation outlines—it represents a leap forward from more traditional automation to a fully connected and flexible system. With real-time data of your most important assets, your people.
If you are interested in this solution for your business, or even if you would like to connect with us on this topic or others, we would be thrilled to connect with you here.
This article was produced courtesy of the ClockInstant team,
ClockInstant is a startup that focusses on productivity growth solutions for SMME’s in emerging markets. Our simple, single feature, one-click time tracking solution allows employers to track staff anywhere ensuring they are on time, in the right place, at the right time.