May 12, 2020 Return to overview

How Smart PPE & IoT Can Protect The Workplace  

Smart Personal Protective Equipment & the Internet of Things


smart ppe

In challenging times such as these, it’s important to put your employees’ safety to the fore. Smart PPE can lead the way. A “new normal” is something we’re hearing a lot more of; from AI and data mining efforts targeting COVID-19, to restaurant temperature scanners and work from home options. Another piece of this ever-expanding puzzle that is the COVID-19 impact, is smart Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The current pandemic poses a vast array of problems for people and their livelihoods, but smart technology and protective equipment can help us better prepare for a different future.

What Exactly is Smart PPE?

It’s funny how these days when you add the word “smart” to something, it has to do with technology and cloud connection! The day is already here where we can add technological devices to our clothes and feed that information to various applications. Buzz Lightyear, anyone?!

Personal protective equipment is the clothing worn by those who face certain environmental hazards during their working conditions. But smart PPE takes it to a whole other level: wearable technology such as tracking devices, sensors and monitors can feed data from the tech-infused PPE to provide insights on worker conditions and any harm they may come across in their environment. These wearables can either be textile-infused, in that they are interwoven in the fabric, or they have built-in electronic devices.

PPE During COVID-19

You might be wondering how Smart PPE can have an impact on the pandemic, and prepare us for the future. There are over 1 million industrial workplace-related fatalities every year, but now with COVID-19 disrupting the world economy, workers need to be even more careful when going to work for the foreseeable future to prevent the spread of the virus.

Smart Wearables Policy

Adopting a smart wearables policy now can ensure IoT systems are easily integrated in the future, keeping employees safe and protected. This is where smart PPE comes into play:

• PPE clothing is already being used in the oil, gas and mining fields to monitor a user’s temperature to ensure they are not overheating or developing hypothermia. COVID-19 remote early warning system (CREW) is being developed for medical staff in the Cork University Hospital. This device is placed under the armpit of medical staff and if there’s a rise in temperature they will be asked to stay at home as they could be developing COVID-19. It is being developed by 8 West Consulting and UCC partners, including Davra.

• Smart devices are being developed that buzz when a person comes within two metres of the device user. These small devices can be worn on the workers’ shoe, where they discreetly buzz if someone is too close. This allows for building sites and other workplaces to continue to operate and follow social distancing measures.

• Other drivers in helping combat COVID-19 are smart fridges that store vaccinations. They are used to relay temperature information to the cloud to ensure the vaccines stay at the right temperature. This could prove useful when large shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine (when it’s discovered) need to be shipped around the world. Although not PPE related, these IoT advancements can ensure COVID is tackled with the aid of these technologies.

Smart PPE Appliances in Other Industries

Smart PPE has been around for a few years now, and it’s uses can be applied in new ways to cater to current world events. They operate through the connectivity between the smart wearables, the biometrics and the centralised cloud network. In time, the wearables can potentially be built into the enterprise resource planning (ERP) to ensure smooth running of the whole network operations.

• Firefighters: masks with thermal cameras to see through smoke and flames.

• Miners can wear clothing that ensures they don’t get lost and are traceable for security measures.

• Clothing that alerts the wearer of the harsh environment they’re in and to get out if needs be, in extreme temperatures and around hazardous chemicals.

Benefits of Smart PPE

1. Reduced costs: wearable tech is becoming more mainstream and cheaper. A decrease in workplace accidents means less insurance payouts and higher worker productivity.

2. Highly accessible now due to IoT companies working with other gateway providers to develop a holistic platform and gain more experience in this field now.

3. Accessible data with smart IoT infrastructure: the perception, transport and application layer make up the system that allows the data from the sensors to be transmitted to the cloud. When set up properly by the company, data can be accessed quickly and efficiently, ensuring the users are safe and can be quickly alerted when something goes wrong.

Time to Set A Smart S.M.A.R.T. Goal

There’s no time like the present to invest in IIoT and smart wearables, as we’re already engrossed in all things smart. Hospitals are now adopting smart wearables, as our partners 8 West Consulting roll out the COVID-19 Remote Early Warning system in Cork University Hospital. This is being implemented in schools in Beijing as well as in hospitals, and we expect Smart PPE will continue to expand into other areas of work to tackle the global pandemic head-on. It’s not only a safe decision to make, but a smart one too to enable swift business and economic processes. We here at Davra would love to chat to you about becoming a smart and savvy business today.

Author

Brian McGlynn, Davra, COO

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