It’s not often that a warehouse manager and operations department will admit to “falling in love” with a potential technology. But that is exactly what happened when the team at Thermo Fisher Scientic’s UK-based Micro Biology Division (MBD) tested the wearable technology from Los Angeles- based Rufus Labs. “We trialed four devices that met our initial user requirement specications,” says Craig McCafferty, MBD’s warehouse manager. “After extensive trials of some market-leading devices and Rufus, our operatives fell in love with the Rufus platform.” “Our WorkHero analytics platform is a subscription-based model, and we provide the wearable devices and scanning technology that customers can use to replace their legacy handheld systems,” says Gabe Grifoni, CEO of Rufus Labs. Rufus Labs wearables include barcode scanner cuffs, gloves, and rings. The product suite boasts easy interoperability with any Android- or web-based system, and the data and metrics from the wearables load directly into a comprehensive dashboard. Today, the Rufus platform is deployed at two Fisher Scientic sites in Europe, with rollouts planned at three additional sites in Europe and multiple facilities in the United States. Within a few weeks of starting the wearables program, “We started seeing the capture of non-scan, usually non- value-added tasks—as well as scanned tasks—being tracked in Rufus,” McCafferty says. “This gave us unbelievable insight into what was happening in our warehouse and allowed us to help team members increase performance by analyzing their scans, steps, and hours on the task,” he adds. As for specic results, McCafferty notes: “We have seen up to a 5% increase in productivity on scanned tasks, plus the elimination of 520 management hours per site by eliminating low-level
A discrete smart wearable that is worn on belts or waistbands of industrial workers, the KINETIC Reflex automatically detects unsafe work postures and provides users with real-time feedback to reduce injuries and create better work habits.
doing 33,” notes CEO Elhawary. “So, they reduced that by 70%.” In the rst two quarters of deployment, Frito-Lay reports that data collected from nine manufacturing sites shows a 19% reduction in strain/sprain injuries among all employees, and a reduction from historically 100% of strain/sprain injuries requiring modied days (when workers can’t do their jobs) to only 33%. Additionally, data from the device provided custom insights into how employees were moving while performing their jobs, which led to new opportunities to improve workplace ergonomics, ranging from training and coaching to workstation and work process redesigns. High buy-in from employees has been key to the program’s success. “Wearables started off as a way for us to solve for the traditional ergonomic risks that we see, which drive some of our workers’ comp costs,” says Cormac Gilligan, vice president of global environment, health & safety at PepsiCo. “But it has become an employee engagement exercise because they like and want to wear the device.” Next up, Frito-Lay is expanding the program into a two-year deployment at multiple manufacturing locations and PepsiCo is debuting the wearable program to the beverage division, with thousands of devices to be deployed in an ambitious four-year program. n
management tasks, and 40% of a full- time equivalent in the removal of non-value-added tasks at the Perth site.” It’s a far cry from what the company was previously using. “We have come a long way from brick-on-a-stick solutions, which are often cumbersome and not great ergonomically, and picking with paper and pen,” McCafferty says. As warehouse workers know all too well, sprains and strains are a common occurrence at distribution centers. Helping to reduce those injuries was the focus of snack maker Frito-Lay’s decision to partner with Kinetic on a wearable technology deployment to address the ergonomic challenges its warehouse employees face. Kinetic’s wearable device is equipped with sensors to detect high-risk movements like improper bending or twisting. It vibrates to give workers a real- time alert and allow them to self-correct their movements. As part of Frito-Lay’s (and parent company PepsiCo’s) goal to create an injury-free work environment, the company introduced the Kinetic Reex wearable device to thousands of workers in 34 manufacturing and distribution centers located throughout North America, in summer 2020. “At the beginning, the workers were doing 100 high-risk postures a day, and by the end of the program, they were
186 Inbound Logistics • January 2022
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