How do you get better at a sport without risking inju- ry? ;e advice is to take it slow; don’t do too much too fast. Train, track your progress, listen to your body, and know when to stop.
;is advice is really no di;erent for professionals in the material handling ;eld taking on heavy li;ing day in and day out.Employees go through training, have best practices, know notto li; too much on their own, know when to ask for help, andknow when to stop before they obtain an injury.
Nowadays, most people use smartwatches and ;tness trackers to keep track of and improve their health. We have accessto tracking steps, calories, sleep, heart rate, exercise, etc. Nowthe manufacturing industry has a wearable that will help themdo the same—but instead of simple tracking, it identi;es potential risks in the warehouse to prevent injuries. ;e FUSEPlatform from StrongArm Technologies is a risk monitoringIo T wearable that collects data on environmental and ergonomic factors to help prevent injuries to workers.
New Equipment Digest spoke with Mike Kim, co-found-er and CTO of StrongArm Technologies to ;nd out how thisrisk monitoring device identi;es risks and improves employeehealth over time.
NED: What is the FUSE Platform and what does it do?
MK: ;e FUSE Platform is a leading-edge, Io T enabled platform designed to deliver actionable, real-time ergonomic andenvironmental safety data, all toward the goal of keeping Industrial Athletes™ everywhere proud, protected, and productive.
NED: What sorts of risks does the wearable sensor identify
and how does it identify them?
MK: FUSE identi;es ergonomic, musculoskeletal injuriesfrom manual material handling risks. It also promotes prox-imity-based safety and analyzes environmental factors such astemperature, humidity, noise, and general air quality to assessrisk, capturing these inputs on the bodies of workers with theFUSE Risk Management Platform. Using proprietary algorithms with real-time edge computing and detailed analyticswith our cloud platform, we are able to identify and alert theuses of various risks in the workplace.
NED: What data does it provide to the employee? How are
employees noti;ed of a risk?
MK: It provides safety performance, trends, ways to improve,and the various di;erent factors. Employees are noti;ed in various ways depending on the severity and nature of the risk. Inmany cases, we provide real-time alerts on the body to ensurechallenges and concerns are addressed as close to the event tohelp prevent injuries before they happen. In other cases, datais aggregated and post-processed to provide detailed trends,information, and tips to improve over time.
NED: How does FUSE learn over time? Does each individu-
al gain a tailored assessment over time?
MK: FUSE doesn’t technically learn on its own over time,
but rather it captures safety metrics per aggregated job func-
tions, feedback alerts, and safety metrics to help improve the
overall safety performance. We have seen over a 50% reduc-
tion in injuries year over year thus far. In the future, we are
de;nitely interested in taking a more personalized approach
to providing feedback and training that is tailored to the in-
dividual based on their experience.
NED: Does the wearable need to be worn with other
equipment, such as an exoskeleton? Or can it be used as a
MK: ;e wearable can be worn in conjunction with otherequipment, as well as a standalone product. Since our sensorprovides alerting capabilities, in addition to capturing safetydata, it is great for running experiments and understandingthe safety impact in the workplace. Simple questions like, howdoes this exoskeleton impact safety or how does a change inthe rack height of this shelf from 3 ; to 6 ; impact safety aremade possible now with our platform and data.
NED: What was the biggest challenge in developing FUSE?
MK: ;e biggest challenge was distilling for the variousstakeholders in the value chain, from the Industrial Athlete to the organizations that employ them and the carriersthat insure them, how the data could be most impactful toincrease safety in the workplace. When we started nearly 7years ago now, the industrial wearable technology space wasnon-existent and there wasn’t really any roadmap that wecould compare o; of either.
NED: Can any workers bene;t from FUSE in the industry
or is it better suited for warehouse jobs where people are
doing a lot of heavy li;ing?
MK: Initially, we built the platform to help Industrial Athletes in environments with repetitive, heavy li;ing as wellas tough environmental factors like temperature, humidity,noise, and air quality. With the COVID- 19 pandemic, we’vebeen called on to help address a broader set of workers andwe have delivered.
NED: FUSE recently added a social distancing and contact
tracing feature—can you explain how that works and what
MK: Today we are leveraging Bluetooth as our primary option for detecting distance between two sensors. It’s specifically measuring RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator)between two Bluetooth devices that can be calibrated to arelative distance to one another.
NED: How far is the Bluetooth range? Will it cover an en-
tire facility or can it be customized for certain distances?
MK: ;e Bluetooth range varies based on the need or functionality. For our system, we have optimized the parameters to be accurate within 6 ; to ensure proper data captureand alerting. In certain scenarios, we are able to make thatthreshold lower or higher as needed.
NED: Are di;erent sensors needed for the social distanc-
ing features or are these capabilities now integrated into
MK: We like to consider ourselves as the “one-stop-shop.”Every feature is fully integrated into the platform.
Risk Monitoring KeepsEmployees Strong
It’s not always enough to prevent injuries, but rather understanding when and why injuries occur in the ;rst place.