Safety Made Simple

Onn Fenig

CEO

Safety made simple

Industrial accidents can have devastating consequences on those involved through the risk of long-term injury – not to mention business interruptions from supply chain disruption and lawsuits. 

According to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), forklifts cause about 85 fatal accidents per year; 34,900 accidents result in serious injury; with 61,800 classified as non-serious. 1 in 9 forklifts will be involved in an accident each year, shockingly, this gives any operator an 11% risk that their forklifts will be involved in an accident each year. 

Everyone working in industrial settings may strive to avoid accidents, but sometimes accidents are unavoidable in the conditions on the ground. Human errors, whether caused by rushing or a momentary lapse of judgement, happen and can have very real human and financial consequences.

While it would be simple to assume that Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) vastly improve safety on the work floor, this is only partly true. Many AMRs are hamstrung by at least the same issues as their human counterparts, in that their view of the floor is at eye level. AMRs using only on-board, floor level sensors can only see as far, or even less, as a human could, and though the use of sensors may extend the field of vision and provide improvement in conditions such as low light, it still is unable to see what’s happening around the corner or behind obstacles – a work floor blind spot where many accidents occur. Traditional methods of AMR vision can also miss seemingly minor incidents such as liquid spills, which, when mixed with a fast-moving sequence of vehicles can cause serious issues. 

AMR technology can be deployed in a much smarter way, unbeholden by legacy viewpoints. 

To really improve safety on the work floor, AMRs need a complete picture of all the activity on the floor, which can be achieved with creative thinking about the architecture of the AMR management system, such as by putting the ‘eyes’ on the ceiling, rather than the body of the AMR. This ‘birds eye’ perspective allows the system to take into account the whole picture on a floor, not just that in eyesight.

Through advanced, fast communication protocols, cutting edge Machine Vision, and Deep Learning, the future of AMR management is safely and efficiently orchestrating indoor mobility in settings such as crowded, dynamic factories and warehouses. 

Enhancing safety also means that all AMRs on the floor are controlled by a universal operating system so they can communicate with each other, united with simple overhead cameras and a central processing unit that can see the entire floor, understand it in great depth and draw semantic analytics that can, among other things, allocate the right tasks to and navigate the right AMR on the floor. A space and platform agnostic management system also brings down costs as separate AMR operating system, navigation system and fleet management system aren’t needed for each different model. Added to this, a choice of manufacturer allows users to leverage multiple types of AMRs that best suit specific tasks, rather than attempting to pick a ‘jack of all trades’ that may compromise on functionality.

Furthermore, this ‘birds eye’ vision doesn’t only apply to AMRs – it has the capacity to stay abreast of all objects on the work floor. Say a forklift driver is going speedily around a corner, where an AMR, or even an AGV is, by having a full view of the work floor you develop the capacity to alert the driver of the potential collision using real-time data.

The ability to predict and prevent safety incidences on the work floor – whether caused by human, AMR, or other machine error – removes much of the risk in the transition to automation. By implementing a safe mechanism to automate warehouses, managers can rest assured that their staff and assets are safe when introducing new technologies to streamline production processes. Automation will be key driving down workplace incidents.

Solutions such as MAESTRO harness state of the art vision-based technology that can keep human workers safe, protect infrastructure and cargo, all while minimising delays for ‘pinch points’ through forward identification and planning.

Is now the time for a Highway Code for AMRs?

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