TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. — New factory technology is in the pipeline that will turn workers' clothing into data-emitting devices for plant management.
The benefit? Engineers will be able to constantly monitor the air temperature, humidity, and working conditions of a factory process, and track employee motions for ergonomics research and safety concerns.
New Internet-based technologies will allow all the data to be managed automatically, so that factory tooling and equipment can be adjusted without human intervention, Jason Prater, vice president of development at Plex Systems, said today at the 2014 Management Briefing Seminars.
Plex is working with an automotive metal-stamping supplier to develop a vest that factory workers would wear on the job to transmit data, Prater said.
“The next wave is wearable technology, like Google Glass, smart watches and smart vests,” he said. “They will allow you to continue using your hands without having to input or look for data.
“The PC will be dead on the shop floor,” he predicted. “Turning people into essentially walking sensors is going to be the future.”
The data might also include a worker's body temperature to monitor his health, and his movements to help improve assembly line efficiency, Prater said.
“Today, decision are made instantaneously. We can't wait to hear about things after the fact.”