Back home safely after work – thanks, automated partner!

Machines – friends in the workplace?

We often take going home safe and sound from a day at work for granted. But there are many people, especially those who work in heavy industries like manufacturing and mining, who see coming home safely as a blessing not a certainty. In countries like Indonesia, which rely a lot on these industries, work accidents still happen too often: the last recorded number for Indonesia was around 103 000 in 2012, following a slowly-rising trajectory.

In many industries that are highly automated, machines are seen donning the ever-present ‘Danger’ or ‘Caution’ sign. To be surrounded by these in your workplace, the experience feels similar to wandering in a minefield.

But industries like these need to keep growing and they will need more people, especially in countries like Indonesia. However, would you join an industry with the risk of returning home missing a limb? Honestly, nobody would. And if you hear about an accident, wouldn’t you tell your friends to also avoid that company?

There are also many benefits for business when there is a safer workplace: increased productivity, worker happiness, and easier hiring and retaining (literally) of talent. There is one solution for a safer workplace: machines that partner with, and also look out for the safety of humans.

These machines will be just another part of your normal workday that will silently watch out for you. In fact, they already have a role to play in keeping people safe and on-the-job in potentially hazardous industries.

Danger, danger!

The most basic machines are made up of sensors and automated machinery – the sensors detect when conditions become unsafe, and the automated machinery takes action to avoid people getting injured or even dying. Omron is an industry leader in these sorts of automation technologies: one of our sensor products, for example, can monitor and remove the electrostatic charges that often generate on manufacturing production lines. By installing these Omron sensors, managers can reduce the risks of electric shocks that may injure employees, cause other equipment to malfunction, or even trigger explosions of fuel or gas. This is one time when it’s good to take the spark out of the workplace!

Robotic heavy equipment, like cranes, can also partner with humans to keep them safe. Another type of Omron sensor can sound warning alarms during crane movement through populated zones. When the sensor detects unexpected movements like this, it alerts workers and can even shut down the crane operation to prevent harm to its human partners.

Protecting their Makers

Machines and sensors can even enhance safety for the workers responsible for their creation! Some of Omron’s sensors, for example, issue a “stop motion” order to semi-automatic machines or robot-arms when workers are detected in the work area. The machines will only resume work once everyone is safely out of harm’s way. Similarly, passive sensors can also help detect movement into risky or restricted-access work areas and prevent workers being trapped in work-cages.

Rather than replacing human workers, automation and sensor technology are becoming the quiet friends of people across manufacturing, automotive, and other mechanical industries that power Asia’s emerging economies. At Omron, we believe technology can better society, and our technology can help transform any factory into an accident-free workplace of the future.

“By creating a safe environment, we also create a happier and therefore more productive environment,” said Budi Sutanto, Managing Director PT, Omron Electronics Indonesia. “Automation is a tool that enhances our ability to spot and resolve risks, drastically reducing the possibility of accidents. As the manufacturing sectors of Indonesia continue to increase in sophistication, the workers responsible for these economic miracles will be able to confidently go to work with the expectation of 100% safety – all thanks to the silent ‘friends’ of automation technology in their workplaces.”

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