When many thought that the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic was behind them, one plastics manufacturer discovered it was still affecting their employees and their business. In mid-March, one of their employees called in sick on a Friday. It wasn’t until the following Monday that their local health department contacted the company to inform them at “an employee” tested positive for the virus. Due to privacy laws, the health department wasn’t allowed to identify which employee. When that employee let the company know that they were in two-week quarantine and why, management was put in the precarious situation of shutting down operations. This would include sending every employee in the plant to be tested and waiting for the results, all the while losing money.
Fortunately for the manufacturer, they had installed i-Virtualize’s TRACE Sensors Real-Time Location Services throughout their facility last year. TRACE Sensors gathers data from tags that employees wear while in the facility to provide contact tracing analytics on an easy-to-read dashboard. Using this data, the management team was able to historically trace the contacts that this employee had with others in the plant, as well as the areas where the employee had worked over the past two weeks.
TRACE RTLS was made for manufacturing to empower Industry 4.0 and advance the potential of smart factories, utilizing IoT technology. From real-time workflow management to industrial process optimization, TRACE gives manufacturers the ability to locate assets, inventory and people anywhere in the environment, using data analytics.
Within a few minutes, management was able to accurately determine that the employee did not have any close contact with other employees. They were also able to limit area closures within the facility to only those which have been contaminated to quickly and thoroughly sanitize those areas.
This also meant that the company didn’t need to shut down their operations for an extended amount of time. More importantly, they were able to reassure the employees that they and their families were safe.
TRACE Sensors had been installed 10 months earlier and this was the first case of COVID in the plant. One of the original use cases for the solution was to ensure that employees stayed safely distanced. This was accomplished with non-invasive tags worn by all employees that alerted them when they were too close to one another. Management believes that employee tagging and tracing can also help them cut healthcare costs and enhance employees’ overall safety.
Since its installation, management has identified several efficiency and cost-saving wins thanks to TRACE Sensors Real-Time Location Services. By being able to view all the data collected through a “different lens,” the manufacturer has been able to transform the shop to increase efficiency and productivity without cutting back on safety.