Biometrics represents some of the most exciting technology innovations in the current landscape. Through intelligent tools that can recognize the unique characteristics of an individual human being, we can accomplish a host of tasks.
The chances are that you’re already using biometrics today, from the camera on your phone that checks your facial structure to unlocking your phone through a simple fingerprint scan.
With a projected value of around $69 billion by 2025, the potential of biometrics is growing fast.
Biometric solutions have the power to change the way we live and work on a massive scale. The right tools are an excellent opportunity to improve security and enhance identification processes.
However, biometrics also has the potential to play an essential part in supporting everything from employee productivity to workplace safety.
Biometric technologies are particularly valuable in the manufacturing sector. Here are just some of the ways biometric tech is improving manufacturing safety.
Restricting access and identification
Perhaps the best-known use case of biometric technology lies in its ability to safely identify an individual by using features that are extremely difficult to copy.
Rather than relying on a password or code that another person may be able to access through unscrupulous means, biometric identification concentrates on a person’s unique physiological characteristics.
- Palm scan
- Fingerprint scan
- Iris scan
- Face recognition
- Voice recognition
We all have unique voice patterns, fingerprints, and facial structures that set us apart from other people. Such features cannot be easily replicated or stolen, as opposed to keys, cards, or PIN numbers and passwords.
In the manufacturing environment, these biometric scans can keep a dangerous environment secure and prevent unauthorized access to crucial tools and services.
If there’s a risky area somewhere in your manufacturing plant, your biometric scanners will ensure that only the people trained and ready to handle the risks can enter it.
This significantly reduces the possibility of work-related injuries, but also ensures optimal operations efficiency as well as minimizes the chances of an unqualified employee tampering with specialized and expensive assets.
Facial recognition technology or fingerprint scanners make controlling access easy and also add a layer of transparency and security. Managers can easily restrict or grant access depending on scheduling needs or operational requirements.
On top of that, the access data enables managers to trace back any issues and see what employees may have been involved.
Using voice commands
Voice commands are an area of biometrics commonly overlooked in a lot of industries. However, they can be extremely useful.
You’ve probably already used your voice to interact with smart speakers around your home or ask questions of the search tool on your smart phone. Voice biometrics in the manufacturing landscape takes this functionality to the next level.
Initially, the biometric technology will scan a person’s voice patterns to identify who is talking.
This makes it easier for the technology to determine what kind of permissions that person has, from their ability to purchase certain products to the files they can access.
Once the speaker is identified, artificial intelligence tools make it quick and easy for them to access information or issue commands hands-free. This is a significant upgrade to having to drop everything to use a keyboard and a mouse.
You can keep your hands free to operate a machine, while asking a device with natural language understanding software built-in to give you health readings or other valuable information.
Nowadays, with the advancements in language processing technologies, voice recognition systems are able to pick up more nuances than before, such as an accent or more complex orders that follow the human thought process more naturally.
Implementing sensory patches to improve wellbeing
Employee wellness and wellbeing is a crucial consideration when it comes to keeping manufacturing plants safe.
In any environment today, biometrics can be a valuable way to detect a team’s overall health.
Intelligent tools with computer vision will scan the employees in a room to determine whether there’s too much heat in one space or if people fail to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Sensory patches connected to the biometric network with the IoT (the Internet of Things) may allow employers to capture more in-depth information about how team members feel.
Even further, this technology can be used to design specific kinds of clothing that detects potentially dangerous heat or cold levels and then act to improve the conditions or alert supervisors.
You could also use sensors to scan for symptoms like exhaustion or dehydration, which reduce employee productivity and put your team members at risk of additional accidents.
For instance, wearable patches could detect stress levels increasing in a certain group of workers, indicating that they need to take a break before working on more challenging projects.
For those who feel uncomfortable wearing patches, smart watches and other similar wearables can be just as effective at gathering biometric data.
Even simple smart watches or fitness bracelets are able to pick up a rising blood pressure or increased heart rate, indicating that the employee is exposed to some sort of stressor.
Keeping an eye on these metrics and removing the employee from their post if necessary could, potentially, prevent many work-related accidents.
Reducing the risk of contamination
However, the same technology can also work alongside other tools to reduce contamination.
A biometric system can determine who should be allowed to work with certain substances, based on their skill set and standing in the company.
In a manufacturing environment, employees often work with a wide variety of substances and materials – some safer than others.
For instance, a biometric sensor combined with AI computer vision can detect whether a person has recently worked with a volatile material before they enter a shared space, like a break room or a manufacturing floor.
When scanning the employee to allow access to the next space, the system could offer a reminder to decontaminate before progressing.
Biometric technology will also work alongside AI tools to detect when there are too many people working in the same confined space with volatile substances.
This is particularly valuable when working with materials that are sensitive to heat and moisture.
Protecting data from corruption
Keeping employees safe in the modern world entails more than just safeguarding their physical health. Today’s companies need to consider the virtual and digital threats that team members face, too.
In a world where more people are active online than ever before, the number of cybercrime attacks is growing. Biometrics can help keep sensitive data safe.
With a biometric strategy, you can ensure that you only provide access to personal datasets to the people who should be able to see them.
You can also track changes made to the records you hold to reduce the risk of data corruption or other common issues.
It’s often much easier to protect information with fingerprint scanners and facial markers than it is to rely on passwords and usernames alone.
Additionally, using biometrics makes it easier for your team members to access the tools they need securely, without having to remember dozens of complicated passwords.
As more software and firmware makes way into manufacturing, a fingerprint scanner or sensor is a potentially much easier way for team members to ensure that they have the tools they need in any environment, without usernames and passwords.
Some large companies like Coca-Cola have been using these technologies for several years now to secure their manufacturing units.
This benefits the end-consumer, too; by controlling who has access to canning sites, food and beverage companies can ensure that the goods are not contaminated during the production and packaging process.
Upgrading the manufacturing industry
Around the world, the manufacturing industry is rapidly moving through a state of digital transformation.
New technologies like smart devices, sensors, and the Internet of Things, coupled with biometrics, deliver valuable changes to the manufacturing landscape.
Companies can use these tools to identify changes in an employee’s location or condition quickly. They can access beacons to send alerts when an employee comes close to a gas leak or dangerous materials.
Modern manufacturing plants are already beginning to equip their employees with this technology, investing in Industry 4.0 solutions to empower and protect their teams.
Biometrics is just one of the incredible new solutions that can work alongside things like AI, robotics, and machine learning to make employees more effective in the workplace.