Beacons, devices that continuously transmit a self identifying radio signal, are making their way into commercial and retail worlds. Beacons have the ability to increase your experience by providing specific information based on your location. For example, if you visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and would like to know more about an artist, simply open up an app on your smart phone and a beacon will be activated based on your location, sending more specific information on the artist to your device. This is an amazing enhancement for any place of learning. Now what would happen if we take this technology and add it to a workplace? An article entitled “Beacons and the Internet of Industrial Things: A New Tool to Enhance Worker Safety”, gives four ways that beacons can benefit worker safety.
- Messages that are context-specific based on zoning: A worker approaching a dangerous area filled with heavy machinery could be warned to wear a specific piece of personal protective equipment (PPE). In fact, according to the article, a number of PPE manufacturers are beginning to incorporate beacons into their safety equipment which are intended to activate these context-specific alerts.
- Worker location: If a worker is in distress it is imperative to know their specific location in order to best assist them. Beacons may provide a more accurate and more accessible way to keep track of employees than current GPS tracking systems. GPS systems work best based on weather conditions and whether they are inside or outside. Beacons are not limited by these conditions.
- Detecting proximity: By placing beacons on moving objects such as forklifts or moving platforms workers can be warned if they are getting too close to danger. Forklifts or platforms could also be automatically shut down if they are detected too close to other objects.
- People/asset tracking: Seeing that beacons can be very small and energy efficient they can be easily placed into worker badges or PPE. These beacons not only track employees as they travel around the workplace, but can identify them. This can be very helpful in an emergency.
While beacons are mostly used by commercial and retail based companies, they are working on adapting these helpful devices into industrial applications. Beacons could become the workplace safety enhancer you are looking for.
Arunachalam, Raghu. “Beacons and the Internet of Industrial Things: A New Tool to Enhance Worker Safety.” www.ehstoday.com. August 2, 2016. August 21, 2016.