IoT, Industrial Internet of Things, Industry 4.0… whatever you call it, it is bound to have some effects on human beings. Much of the discussion has been about economics. Will the robots take all the jobs? Will this settle the minimum wage argument? Will we be able to collaborate effectively with robots?
All these questions are still matter for speculation.
But what it will actually be like to work as part of the IoT doesn’t require speculation. Rexroth’s award-winning Industry 4.0 factory in Germany has human workers in their place in the system.
Each human worker has a Bluetooth chip that identifies him or her not by name or job title, but by experience level and language. That lets the machinery make accurate decisions about what kinds of instructions should be provided to each individual worker.
Just solving the language problem could make a big difference in many U.S. factories, where workers are likely to speak Spanish, English, Lao, Vietnamese, Marshallese, and Farsi in the same plant.
With data streams coming in from human workers as well as machines, doors can open just in time for someone carrying a heavy box. The temperature and chemical levels in the air can be measured, ensuring worker safety.
Nothing will ever be lost or misplaced again and wastage will be a thing of the past, so two of the big issues for productivity will be solved. But the same technology means that the machinery could monitor human bathroom breaks or use wearable fitness devices to identify people who are more likely to cost the company money with insurance claims.
We’re getting back to speculation now.
The IoT is certainly exciting, and it is easy to see benefits for everyone involved. In the meantime, think of us whenever you need service for your electric Rexroth machinery.