While the world practices social distancing and quarantining, manufacturing is stuck in a pretty precarious situation since their work has been deemed essential. And “essential” is definitely the right way to describe it when you consider that the food, sanitation equipment, and technology they create are required for those looking to quarantine to protect themselves and others. Even beyond manufacturers who are creating products they’ve always created, there are those who are also stepping up to produce medical supplies and protective equipment such as masks, gloves, and ventilators in order to address shortages.

These are all beyond admirable endeavors, but they’re also putting manufacturing employees in danger as they are on the front lines to ensure communities stay afloat. It is the responsibility of these companies to account for the new need of bolstered safety practices as their employees put themselves in harm’s way. 

So then, what new standard operating procedures are necessary to address this need for employee safety and what tech can you use to set those into practice? Additionally, if you too wish to convert your manufacturing operation into one that helps produce medical supplies to help the healthcare effort, there’s going to be a need to shift between two different production lines: your normal one, and the one created for protective equipment. How can tech like industrial grade computers help prevent cross-contamination between these two different types of products while also making shifting between these two lines safe for your employees?

Below are a few tech-driven SOPs and equipment specifications we believe can make a great start to addressing these new needs in the manufacturing sector.     

Automated Sanitation Reminders

Automated, regular reminders to wash hands and sanitize machines may seem a little too micromanage-y, but in a time like this where people are creating products for those treating infections, sanitation can’t be stressed and upheld enough. 

As the coronavirus makes this need for sanitation clear, many industrial plants are using their dashboards shared across their supply chains to send reminders and confirmations of proper sanitary practices.

Plant leaders who aren’t physically in their factories due to stay at home orders can send notifications to ground-level employees reminding them to sanitize. These reminders can be sent whenever IoT sensors report that a machine has started to be operated. In response to these activations, an automated reminder can be sent to the employee manning that machine, reminding them to sanitize properly before beginning their work. 

This can be immensely helpful in cases where the same machinery is being used to create both normally produced products and protective gear for healthcare workers. Machines and hardware need to be meticulously cleaned and disinfected when switching between these two different production lines. Using these infrastructures, real-time updates on sanitation can be shared across the supply chain, assuring managers and other ground-level employees that proper precautions are being taken against infection.    

Invest in Equipment That Can be Sanitized

The cracks and crevices of a traditional computer are breeding grounds for germs and bacteria. Worse yet, workers who interact with these computers are very likely to transfer these pathogens to other equipment and employees on the factory line, making the need to sanitize these computers abundantly clear. Of course, even if sanitation is properly enforced, if your hardware can’t stand up to cleanings that are sure to increase in frequency, your production process is bound to experience some disruptions. Moving forward, manufacturers are sure to prioritize investing in rugged equipment that can withstand these cleanings such as fanless panel pcs that are IP65 certified

IP65 certified computers are protected and sealed against debris and moisture ingress. While this is normally already a benefit for industrial manufacturers, IP65 certified hardware can also be generously sprayed down with liquid-based sanitizers without worry over damage to internal components. This is going to be essential in the coming days for plants looking to keep their employees safe and also the supplies they’re creating and donating infection-free.

Employee Safety Training Modules for New Hardware

Continuing off of the idea that manufacturers would be switching between two production lines, it’s very likely that employees aren’t going to be familiar with all of the equipment involved in both of these processes. As such, employees will need to be comprehensively trained on how to operate new machinery they aren’t used to. 

Fortunately, training materials for many machines, such as 3d printing hardware that’s needed to mass-produce masks, exist as PDFs, GIFs, or even videos that can easily be shared across interconnected devices regardless of whether or not managers are working remotely or not. 

Using the same shared dashboard we mentioned earlier, plant managers and team leaders can share these training materials to the panel PCs that are used as work stations across their factory floors. Even better yet, if workers are equipped with portable, industrial tablets, these same training materials can be viewed from anywhere, even in front of the machines they’re learning to use. This can give employees a much more hands-on approach to learning how to operate these new pieces of hardware, mitigating safety risks and allowing them to learn in a more interactive, effective way. 

Incorporating Customizable Hardware

During these incredibly trying times, hardware has some pretty large shoes to fill. Not only does it need to withstand the manufacturing work environment, it must be versatile enough to support two or more production processes for those looking to maintain normal operations and also aid the healthcare effort. Additionally, because we’re dealing with an infectious pandemic, these devices now also need to be equipped with certain sanitary insurances to guarantee the safety of those on the production lines. That’s a lot of boxes that need to be ticked off, but that doesn’t mean solutions don’t exist. 

Customizable hardware solutions are out there for manufacturers and they can prove rather helpful for teams switching between different production processes. A fanless mini pc, for example, is compact and built to be rugged enough to withstand the regular amount of volatility to be found in a manufacturing-based workstation. In addition to that, models with multiple COM, LAN, USB, and HDMI ports allow for that small solution to be equipped with all manner of external hardware such as 3D printers, heavy machinery, workstation monitors, and whatever else a team could need to handle its multiple, disparate processes.

Both employee safety and sanitation of supplies are further augmented by the fanless designs of these models. Without the presence of fans, debris like sawdust and metal shavings won’t be drawn into the devices’ internal components nor will they draw in bacteria that could be spread throughout the facility. 

Helping Your Community Starts With Employee Safety

Facilities that plan on helping healthcare providers will need to start thinking like healthcare providers. In the world of infectious diseases and patient care, sanitation and employee safety need to be priorities one, two, and three. For more information on the kind of tech needed to ensure your employees’ safety, contact an expert from Cybernet today.