Monitoring of company processes using a smartwatch?

Kateryna Sakovska

​According to Minnesota Reformer, two large USA meat-processing companies – Tyson Foods and JBS – invested into a smartwatch app that provides real-time monitoring of production processing. 

The aim of this technology is to increase the company’s efficiency while also ensuring the safety of employees. The risk of injury in the meat-processing industry is very high. Repetitive, fast and strenuous work makes meat processing plants some of the most dangerous workplaces. The U.S. Department of Labor has conducted repeated investigations of safety incidents in the industry in recent years. 

The app is compatible with Samsung Watch 4, which continuously collects data from the production process during the work shift using its sensors – specifically the force, rotation, speed and direction of the worker's hand movement. This data is then interpreted by software with elements of artificial intelligence that determines whether the movements are safe and alerts workers if they exceed the safety limits for force or speed. It converts the acquired data into metrics displayed on the dashboard. This includes not only safety metrics, but also active productivity scores.

What are the advantages for the company?

Using a smartwatch as a tool to monitor manufacturing processes can bring a number of benefits.

The most important of these is an increase of productivity. Thanks to the monitoring of movement and performance of activities, it is possible to identify less productive work procedures and propose measures to increase the performance of individual activities. 

Another advantage of using a smartwatch is increased employee safety. Smartwatch sensors can predict potential safety risks at the workplace. The watch is equipped with RTLS (real-time location system) technology, which allows the worker to easily call for assistance or help if necessary.

Using data on the current progress of individual activities in the production process, the software can also provide workers with immediate feedback to help them significantly facilitate their work or improve their performance.

The use of a smartwatch during an activity also makes it possible to easily collect anonymous data about movement around the company premises, which can be further analyzed and used to optimize work processes and use of resources. This information helps companies reduce costs and increase profitability while making the work of employees easier. In addition, optimizing work procedures from the point of view of their ergonomics helps prevent long-term health problems.

Last but not least, smartwatches can also help employers improve communication with employees. Thanks to the HMI (Human Machine Interface) technology, employees can better interact with different systems and machines in real time and easily adapt to different work tasks. 

Overall, the use of smartwatches can help companies optimize workflows, reduce downtime, and thereby increase production process productivity and improve worker safety. From a marketing perspective, this can be a strong selling point for companies trying to improve their bottom line and differentiate themselves in a crowded market. The feedback from unions has shown (despite initial concerns) that workers see this innovation as a real benefit to their jobs.

Protection of workers' privacy

Privacy concerns of the employees are an important consideration when implementing any new monitoring system at the workplace. At Cleverlance, we also deal with the implementation of similar solutions using smartwatches. This is why we asked Mikuláš Müller, the head of the CleverIndustry unit which supplies systems for the digitization of industry and logistics, about how this issue is handled at Cleverlance:

"In the case of a smartwatch application that monitors activities in the production process, it is important to emphasize that we respect the GDPR and ensure the secure processing of personal data. All data is encrypted and stored on secure servers, where it is accessible only to authorized persons. 

Each employee uses a different watch each time. Before each shift, employees randomly and anonymously select a watch from the shelf, so it is impossible to determine exactly which particular employee is or was in which place at a certain time. This should make employees feel safe and assure them that their privacy is not at risk. 

It is also important to explain to the employees all aspects of the functioning of this system, and to convince them that the smartwatch will help them make their work easier and will not threaten their rights and privacy", emphasizes Mikuláš Müller.​