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Video Intelligence and the Factory of the Future

3 use cases to help drive digital transformation

Two workers on factory floor in hard hats

This article was contributed by David Owens, CEO of Meraki technology partner EveryAngle

Manufacturers are seeking a recovery path from the disruption of the pandemic that creates a foundation for the agile factory of the future and operates closer to customer needs. The digitization of factories will be built and adopted incrementally, driving changes to workflows, transforming departmental responsibilities, uncovering new data sources to power insights, and requiring a new workforce with a digital-first skill set.

One overlooked source of operational insights is video data captured by smart cameras. Traditionally, smart cameras have been used primarily to protect against theft and keep an eye out for suspicious behavior, but the potential applications have exploded with the progression of video analytics and increasingly more powerful processors. 

How can manufacturers leverage smart cameras and computer vision to address their varied challenges? While many potential applications exist, here are three use cases to consider.

Predictive maintenance

When unplanned downtime occurs, no value is being produced while the cost of overhead operations continues to grow—directly impacting a company’s bottom line. Approximately 82% of companies have experienced unplanned downtime over the past three years. Furthermore, the average manufacturer deals with 800 hours of downtime per year, or more than 15 hours per week. Consider that just one minute of downtime in an automotive factory can cost as much as $20,000

While downtime is a part of doing business, scalable and timely preventive maintenance can help. Computer vision and smart camera-powered predictive maintenance can gather data points across fleets of machinery and components to identify problems and recommend solutions before assets break down.

Improving safety

Every year, more than 4,500 preventable workplace deaths and 4.6 million preventable workplace injuries occur in the U.S. Of these, some 11% occur within the manufacturing sector alone.

Aside from the human cost, the economic cost of these events is more than $18 billion annually in the manufacturing sector. What is most striking is that the rate of serious injury is increasing—by more than 17% since 2010.

Clearly, the manufacturing industry needs better workplace safety systems and practices. Applications for computer vision to improve human safety include automated compliance with personal protective equipment requirements, lone worker monitoring, and machine-to-human interaction safety tracking.

Track and trace

Track and trace capabilities provide the data, insight, and intelligence manufacturers need to be more competitive. The speed at which a manufacturer gains insights and takes action on quality issues can mean the difference between winning new customers and irreparable brand damage. Consider that product recalls for food manufacturers cost an average of $10 million.

Best practice track and trace embeds the right technologies into the stage and gate process, giving every physical asset a digital profile, and every action a measurable and manageable value. Smart cameras and computer vision can be used to improve operational traceability using applications such as optical character recognition at distance (OCRaD). Images of labels, codes, and other identifying markers are collected at manufacturing process gates, autonomously converted to machine readable text, then made available for requirements such as real-time presence look-up or location audit trail compliance. 

How to get started

Computer vision can help better protect your people, reduce unplanned downtime, and improve operational traceability. Thanks to our free trial program, Meraki and EveryAngle make it simple to get started. Contact us to learn more.