Wearable technology in the connected factory of the future

May 24, 2016

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By Robert McCutcheon, Partner, US Industrial Products Leader

From 3D printing to robotics to sensors, manufacturers have already made an impressive headway in adopting new technology on the factory floor. Another connected device that’s shaping the Factory of the Future is wearables – small accessories that help people and machines connect – designed to merge relevant real time data, and provide information at the tips of our fingers or, now, on our wrists or in our line of sight.

According to PwC’s latest consumer survey, The Wearable Life: Connected living in a wearable world, almost half of survey respondents said they believe wearable tech will increase workplace efficiency. A few use cases for wearables in the Factory of the Future:

    • Field service: Through a mix of technologies piped through smart glasses, wearables can change the way field service workers share information from remote locations, completely enhancing remote site management. With wearable technology, field workers can connect for advice to troubleshoot daily issues like a challenging repair job. They can also use video to share what they are seeing to quickly improve quality and efficiency of jobs.
    • Inventory observations: Wearable technology can also give workers on the factory floor access to vital labor-related information. It can be used to observe inventory quickly, count and grab visible validity of inventory. Wearables can also help a company create an automated inventory process for improved tracking, productivity and profitability.
    •  Maintenance efficiency: As wearables can track location, the technology can help identify interruptions in the production line by quickly alerting malfunctions across wearable devices of workers on the factory floor. The technology can easily assign and alert employees with a notification on their own devices, minimizing downtime and maintaining productivity.

 

The use cases for these small devices are just one piece of the Factory of the Future. While the use of wearable technology on the factory floor will help improve operational efficiency as described above, wearables will also capture and unlock actionable data that will help manufacturers ultimately build an IoT ecosystem. As new and cheaper smart technologies emerge and wearable technology adoption grows, we expect manufacturers to undergo an aggressive push to weave operations and processes of their factory floors into the Internet of Things, making this connectivity a commonplace.

 

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