Coming to the Shop Floor: Workers Who Transmit Data

Automotive News Print Version

August 18, 2014

Copyright 2014 Crain Communications All Rights Reserved

New factory technology is in the pipeline that will turn workers' clothing into data-emitting devices for plant management.

The benefit? Engineers will be able to constantly monitor the air temperature, humidity and working conditions of a factory process, and track employee motions for ergonomics research and safety concerns.

New Internet-based technologies will allow all the data to be managed automatically, so that factory tooling and equipment can be adjusted without human intervention, says Jason Prater, vice president of development at Plex Systems, who spoke at the seminars yesterday.

Plex is working with an automotive metal-stamping supplier to develop a Google Glass system that factory workers would wear on the job to transmit data, Prater said.

"The next wave is wearable technology, like Google Glass, smart watches and smart vests," he said. "They will allow you to continue using your hands without having to input or look for data.

"The PC will be dead on the shop floor," he predicted. "Turning people into essentially walking sensors is going to be the future."

The data might also include a worker's body temperature to monitor his health, and his movements to help improve assembly line efficiency, Prater said.

"Today, decisions are made instantaneously. We can't wait to hear about things after the fact."

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