The rapid uptick of manufacturers integrating IIoT technologies since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to adapt or get left behind in the face of massive disruption.
However, less has been said about the possibilities of using IIoT to mitigate the immediate threat of COVID-19 transmission on the factory floor. As social distancing is an essential component for stopping the spread of the virus, manufacturers do sometimes require that employees use wearable trackers when on the factory floor – enabling real-time tracking of staff movement and interactions during their shift. Should the worst happen and a COVID-19 outbreak occur, these records can assist with contact tracing.
While this sounds slightly dystopian, wearable trackers can also be used to alert employees when they are coming within 1.8 metres (six feet) of one another and alert the monitoring system that a possible breach may have occurred. As there is much emphasis on the monitoring and real-time visibility of data as a benefit of IIoT integration, this feature can also be used to capture the employee and time records when certain materials are handled. This data can then be checked against the system to flag any possible cross-contamination between employees during material handling.