For industrial firms - and really any type of business - management Information Systems can simplify and accelerate information retrieval by storing data in a central location, and making it accessible via the network. Thanks to those systems, managers and other decision makers can come to quicker and more precise conclusions. Today, Info Systems have become exhaustive, accurate and indispensable. They allow companies to coordinate multiple operations, while striving for safety, efficiency and simply being on top of their game.
Wearable tech experts acknowledge the usefulness of these systems and are pushing the boundaries of technological capability to further enhance productivity and safety at work. Let us take an example to illustrate the possible improvements they are addressing: you are a manufacturing plant owner, and it is a busy day at the plant. Your field manager is an exceptional employee and is running up and down the floor, coordinating activities and ensuring that all tasks are properly executed. During the effervescence, a component in one of the machines detaches itself and falls in a turbine. Information Systems report the event to a computer located in the manager’s office, so that he or she can alert employee #1, who is responsible for this machine. However, at this time the manager is out of office assisting employee #2 with inventory. Your manager, even though qualified and competent, misses the alert. Employee #1 does not receive the signal and continues operating the machine, causing it to break down. As this happens, your company has just lost thousands, maybe millions, of dollars in repair expenses.
The window of opportunity researchers in wearable technology have unveiled lays in reducing the likelihood of missing any critical information, such as an anomaly in the production chain, which can cause million of dollars to fix. Now, the Information Systems available on the market are doing an amazing job and managers, as well as the workers on the field, can brilliantly perform their tasks. As the adage goes, “don’t fix it if it isn't broken”! Wearables do not aim to replace anyone; on the contrary, they would enhance workers capabilities and facilitate management decision making.
So this is happening... Businesses will soon be able to relay all operations-related critical data directly to their employees, by providing them with wearable devices. The devices to be utilized range from heads up displays to smart wristbands and other enhancing tools worn on the body. The wearable technology to be used will, of course, have to undergo thorough studies and be carefully chosen to be the least disruptive and the most efficient in a given workplace.
But what does this mean to industrials? Well, real-time communication between Info Systems and employees will be accurate, traceable and easily interpretable. The technology will empower employees and potentially increase their morale & productivity, while managers will continue to be a key factor in final decision making. Quicker responses to unexpected occurrences and decreased opportunity for missed alerts could potentially reduce lost-time injuries on the site, as well as costs.
As wearable technology is slowly turning its attention away from the already-proven health and mass communication markets to explore new opportunities, experts are progressively uncovering dozens of promising industrial applications that could revolutionize the way companies operate. To provide the right people with the right information at the right time is the goal of researchers. We are now witnessing an evolution from “systems designed for experts” to the aura of “expert systems”, which analyze and instantly broadcast user-friendly information to all workers and managers via wearables.