It’s no secret the hiring shortage has hit every industry. The pandemic only amplified an issue that was already progressing. Many companies were already operating as leanly and efficiently as possible when the pandemic hit, exposing some potential issues that could lead to safety obstacles.
Specifically for skilled trades, the talent shortage isn’t new, but it is getting worse. For example, prior to COVID-19, warehouses were already challenged with staff shortages, and the pandemic has only exacerbated the problem. With only a fraction of workers on-site, facility upkeep often becomes a secondary priority with risks being overlooked. That means when a mundane emergency like a refrigerator being left open or a pipe bursting happens, it might take a while until someone notices, and by the time management is made aware of the disaster the damage is already done. To prevent these incidents from happening, facilities should implement environmental monitoring technology that can help catch these emergencies early to keep major damage or losses from occurring.
Different environmental monitoring technologies can help to detect and diffuse specific emergency situations, allowing buildings to communicate with their operators early to stop a minor issue from turning into a major disaster that closes the facility or halts operations. This approach can save time, money, and ensure peace of mind for facility management. But before deciding what environmental technologies to invest in, it is important for a facility to audit what systems they already have in place. For instance, many facilities are already equipped with security cameras, a fire panel, door access control, and other safety and security technologies; however, all of these are disparate systems. This can be a disadvantage when it comes to addressing emergencies as quickly as possible because many of these systems’ alerts are not standardized and some don’t send out alerts at all. Instead of alerts being generated and sent through separate systems, facilities should invest in an automated alerting platform. An automated alerting platform can integrate and connect all of a facilities’ existing systems, ensuring that when a system is triggered, an alert is sent immediately to the proper individuals.
Unlike alerts from the disparate systems, the automated alerting platforms are customizable and contain detailed information regarding the situation. For instance, these alerts can include the specific location of the device or sensor that was triggered, and even include a live video feed from the nearest camera to the event. This allows staff to make informed decisions before they even arrive at the situation. An automated alerting platform also offers a multitude of ways alerts can be sent and received, such as via a mobile or desktop dashboard, text message, voice call, email, broadcast over a PA system, and more. This redundancy ensures that a situation is dealt with as soon as possible, potentially avoiding unnecessary losses.
Once an automated alerting platform is in place and a facility’s existing systems are integrated, operators can then determine what additional environmental monitoring technologies to invest in. Depending on the facility, various sensors and monitoring systems can be determined based on its unique needs. For example, temperature monitoring can be especially useful in a facility or warehouse that refrigerates or freezes its product since something as simple as a refrigerator door being left open or a freezer malfunction can result in the loss of inventory, time, and money. By implementing temperature sensors and integrating them into the automated alerting platform, a facility’s proper staff members can be alerted if there’s any undesired drop or rise in temperature. This kind of monitoring and alerting helps to relieve the burdens placed on understaffed facilities by helping to ensure the workplace is safe and running smoothly.
Other environmental monitoring systems that can help improve working conditions are power loss and voltage monitors, equipment monitoring, water and humidity detection, and asset tracking. Whether dealing with a power outage, a leak, or a missing piece of equipment, these systems can help staff members identify and manage the situation. Getting ahead of these situations with proper alerting and monitoring can completely avert what could have resulted in a shut down in production, damage or loss of inventory, or even an injury to an employee.
When all of a facility’s systems are properly leveraged, operators are able to create a holistic safety solution. This not only offers operators peace of mind, but it provides all staff with a more reliable work environment. When operating with staff shortages, it’s important that employees are doing the work that is most important, not checking disparate systems and trying to resolve emergency situations or accidents only after they occur. When equipped with an automated alerting platform and environmental monitoring, staff can be proactive rather than reactive, improving workflow and creating a less stressful environment.
Danielle Myers is General Manager for Status Solutions.