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A+A 2015 was all about getting connected

09 November 2015

As would be expected from an international trade fair, getting connected was a central theme for A+A 2015 which took place in Düsseldorf from 27th -30th October.

For the trade show’s 30th year in Düsseldorf, 887 exhibitors from 57 countries came together to showcase the latest trends and technologies in occupational health, safety and security. The biennial exhibition has come a long way since its launch in 1954 when 2000 visitors were invited to see 74 stands; with 65,000 visitors through the door in 2015 it’s fair to say A+A has established itself as the meeting place for the industry.

But at the 2015 event getting connected wasn't just about shaking hands and sharing business cards; it was at the core of technological innovation too. The Internet of Things (IoT), a term used to describe the growing number of devices that are connected to the internet, to each other and to us, is a hot topic in manufacturing and its potential to improve processes, efficiency and safety is believed to be so great it has been dubbed the fourth industrial revolution, or "Industry 4.0". 

While most people will be familiar with connected technologies such as fitness monitors or home automation devices, as the size and cost of sensors and web connection falls, the projection is that everything that can be connected will be connected. This will span billions of devices across a wide range of technologies and is predicted to have an enormous economic impact. It was no surprise then that at A+A 2015 connected technologies were generating a lot of interest. 
On the JSP stand, for example, the company reported strong demand for its new system for keeping track of height safety equipment, JSPCheck, which uses durable Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags to uniquely identify assets and includes a secure, cloud-based database where asset profiles and data can be stored and backed up in real time. RFID scanners help to connect assets and data anywhere, at any time and scanning can also be done using Android mobile devices. 

Automatically updated, JSPCheck removes the need for a company to maintain data on its own servers and replaces inefficient pen and paper inspections. Disaster recovery of inspection histories is therefore completely taken care of.

JSPCheck has a myriad of uses, tracking asset and inspection history, asset location – including named locations or people and GPS coordinates – usage, warranty dates, date of first use, end of life date, manufacturer’s serial numbers and safety information on each piece of equipment. Required safety forms can be built into the system so the user simply scans the RFID tagged asset and uses the JSPCheck cloud software to perform and store safety inspections.

Meanwhile on the Honeywell Safety Products stand the company was sharing its vision of the future of safety: connected safety solutions. Honeywell asserts that by connecting different elements of the safety environment, businesses can improve processes, productivity and efficiency while also improving worker safety. 

"In an increasingly competitive marketplace where a business’s reputation and productivity can be significantly impacted by a single failure, safety has become a critical factor in ensuring success,” said Stuart Turnbull, director sales excellence at Honeywell Industrial Safety EMEA. "Providing workers with the right safety equipment is crucial but, in today’s fast-changing world, by itself is not enough. Safety managers also need real-time visibility of their operations so they know what is happening at the precise moment it happens and can act before it becomes a crisis.”
In the week following A+A, at Intel's Internet of Things (IoT) Insights Day held in San Fransisco, Honeywell Industrial Safety demonstrated a prototype of a personal connected safety solution developed in conjunction with Intel. 

The Honeywell Connected Worker solution includes a Mobile Hub that collects and provides sensor fusion, which refers to data collected from a variety of sensors on a worker that are compiled to provide a broader picture of what that worker is experiencing. The Mobile Hub pulls data from a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), a heart rate monitor, and several Intel Quark SE microcontroller based devices, including a toxic gas monitor, an activity detection device, and a non-verbal gesture device. 

The solution monitors workers for toxic gas exposure, breathing, heart rate, posture and motion. The resulting data and actionable intelligence is displayed remotely on a visual, cloud-based dashboard, giving plant managers the information needed to better anticipate unsafe conditions and prevent potential "man-down" scenarios that could threaten worker safety. In addition, the data can be used to prevent equipment failure that could create unsafe conditions or costly downtime.

Carl Johnson, president of Honeywell Industrial Safety describes the solution as, "a major breakthrough for worker safety and productivity that will revolutionise the industrial workplace.”  

It’s a bold claim but there is little doubt that the IoT and the insights derived from the data it generates are rapidly changing the way we live and work so the solutions on display at this year's A+A show are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg. In its report "The internet of things: Mapping the value beyond the hype”,  the Mckinsey Global Institute (MGI) suggests that the hype around the IOT may actually understate its full potential and the value potential per year by 2025 for  health and safety and operations optimisation could be in the region of $160B-930B.