Technology promotes social distancing in the warehouse | 2020-08-21

Technology companies are stepping up to provide social distancing and contact tracing tools to improve worker health and safety in warehouses and distribution centers (DCs) across the country. The tools are an essential part of protecting workers from Covid-19, according to tech firms Peak-Ryzex, Inc., and Kinetic, both of which released solutions this week.

Columbia, Md.-based Peak-Ryzex, which provides digital supply chain and mobile workforce solutions to customers throughout North America and Europe, said Friday it successfully implemented a mobile distancing and contact tracing solution at its managed services operations center in Alpharetta, Ga. The solution allows employees a full range of motion in their duties by using Bluetooth beacon technology from mobile technology provider Zebra paired with an Android device appropriate to the work environment. The devices are connected via a cloud-based software platform. The solution helps employees understand their physical proximity to co-workers and alerts them in real-time to any social distance violations that may occur based on boundaries set within the application, the company said.

“One of our core guiding principles at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic was to ensure the safety of our workforce,” Billy Lawder, senior vice president of North American operations for Peak-Ryzex, said in a statement.  “We took initial steps to ensure proper PPE, sanitizing, and physical distancing within our facilities, and this application is a further investment in keeping our essential workers safe. Now, if a Covid-positive incident is reported at our facility, we have a strong infrastructure in place to respond and quickly determine the appropriate next steps in protecting our workforce.”

The solution includes:

  • Real-time alerts for the worker via vibration, visual, and audible alarms. 

  • Management notifications and robust reporting capabilities accessed through an intuitive dashboard.

  • Flexible configuration tools to match the intended work environment.

  • Integration into existing applications for additional reporting and data access.

Peak-Ryzex said it is implementing the solution at several customer locations across the United States.

Separately, New York-based wearable technology provider Kinetic has added automated proximity alerts and contact tracing capabilities to its Reflex wearable device, the company said Thursday. The upgraded technology helps facilitate social distancing for the workforce and allows managers to implement precise and accurate contact tracing, the firm said.

The Kinetic Reflex is a discrete, smart wearable device that is worn on workers’ belts or waistbands. It automatically detects unsafe work postures and provides users with real-time feedback to reduce injuries and create better work habits. The new functionality aims to help protect workers from Covid-19 and includes two key features: 

  • Automated proximity alerts notify workers with a light vibration whenever they come within close contact. “This helps create awareness on proper social distancing practices, and allows workers to limit their amount of close interactions, reducing the chance of exposure,” the company said.

  • A contact tracing tool in the Reflex software analytics platform allows managers to easily identify contacts between workers. “If a worker tests positive for the virus, management can protect their workforce by generating a report of everyone who could have potentially been exposed, as well as the duration of the contact,” the company also said.

Storage and information management services company Iron Mountain recently piloted the upgrades, according to Kinetic.

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