Digital transformation is for the people
When it comes to industries like manufacturing, transportation, and logistics, technology sometimes gets a bad rap for taking over human jobs with advancements such as AI (artificial intelligence), robotics, and automation. However, what many do not understand is these innovations can actually help improve safety in environments that are traditionally hazardous. From warehouses and long-haul trucking to last-mile delivery and retail stores, keeping employees safe should be a priority for businesses across the supply chain industry. Digitally transforming your business is one way towards achieving this.
Why safety matters
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), in 2020 alone the total cost of work injuries in the U.S. was $163.9 billion, which included wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, and employers’ uninsured costs. Over 65 million days of work were lost due to injuries the same year. And while these stats are not exclusive to the supply chain ecosystem, they come from a period when many people had to stop working due to social distancing mandates and quarantine restrictions.
Today, more employees are returning to in-person work environments while still navigating the threat of COVID-19. Supply chain companies must evolve their safety practices to ensure their workforce stays healthy and safe.
Meeting and exceeding safety standards can reap multiple benefits beyond the obvious ethical considerations. These include reduced costs associated with injuries and illnesses, improvements in employee morale and retention, and higher productivity. Further, today’s consumers are highly concerned about how workers are treated and make buying decisions accordingly.
So how can technology help?
Getting smart about safety
Businesses across the global supply chain have a unique opportunity for digital transformation to maximize operational efficiencies and gain better asset visibility and management. The ideal solutions combine “smart” device hardware and software to connect almost anything, gather data, and derive insights in near real-time. One of the most important use cases for these advancements is workplace safety.
For example, smart cameras could detect unsafe zones or practices in a warehouse. If a worker enters one of these zones or if they aren’t wearing a hardhat when they need to, they (or management) could be immediately notified. Robotics with AI could replace some of the more dangerous aspects of a manufacturing line job, reducing the risk of injuries. Long-haul truckers could be alerted about hazards on the road and even warned if they show signs of drifting off to sleep. Last-mile delivery drivers could deliver packages and confirm pick-up or receipt from a distance without compromising social distancing rules or preferences.
A main advantage of these technologies is they help to prevent accidents and injuries before they occur. Workers could be more productive knowing there’s a lower risk of danger where they work and may feel more valued, while employers may retain more employees and save costs in multiple areas.
Where to start improving safety
Digitally transforming every aspect of a supply chain business can seem daunting, but solutions like those offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., could allow you to scale and stack services in a phased approach.
For example, you might start by installing smart cameras that are able to process data both on the device through AI and/or send information to a cloud for fast processing. Next, you could equip key workers with handheld devices that send data to a centralized dashboard. And eventually, you could add devices and services that enable asset tracking and management for end-to-end visibility. Step by step, you can take your business from analog to online, helping you enter the digital age and, ultimately, work towards improving your bottom line.
Learn how we can help at Qualcomm.com/supplychain