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  • AutorenbildSourabh Bodas

Worker guidance: Legend, Myth or Reality?

Worker guidance has become one of the hottest topics in the manual working environment, and there are several companies with their solutions in these fields.

Right from creating a very attractive, clear and concise document that can be printed by the worker to an interactive solution. But let’s dig a bit deeper and look at levels of autonomy for worker guidance systems.

Worker Guidance - Digitization

Worker guidance is needed for multiple reasons, first and foremost worker must know what they are supposed to do at their workstation, and it’s not always as straightforward. Workers can work on various variants during their working week, some of them may be completely unknown to the workers, and the basic commonality of processes is not sufficient to work without any errors or mistakes. Worker guidance allows the worker to understand the step-by-step processes, and then execute them according to the work instructions. In a broad category there are four types of worker guidance.

1. Passive

2. Active

3. Interactive

4. Autonomous

Let’s dig a bit deeper and understand these four categories. I will provide an equivalent example from navigation that may make it easier to understand.

Passive worker guidance

This is the simplest form of worker instructions, a printed work instruction booklet, most often stored at the workstation, with laminated pages for handling in dusty and oily environment. This is equivalent to the paper maps of yesteryears, where you must go and actively seek what you need to understand for the following steps.

Active worker guidance

This is next form of worker guidance, where work instructions are digitized and often presented to the worker in a form of PowerPoint or PDF document that can be easily scrolled through or accessed with the help of mouse and keyboard. Worker can search through the document with relative ease, however it’s not completely intuitive. This is equivalent of digitized maps, where you don’t need to open a large map, but can scroll through the map and search places using a touchscreen device.

Interactive worker guidance

This is one of the most common offerings under the guise of integrating worker to the industry 4.0 systems and processes. Workers usually have a touchscreen or additional HMI devices such as tactile pushbuttons, which worker can press after every step. The dedicated software will keep track of what work steps are completed, based purely on worker feedback, and may provide basic integration to external systems such as barcode reader, MES or ERP systems etc.

This is akin to the GPS almost we use every day with Google Maps or similar services. Where you have navigation, and with the help of GPS satellite signal the device can keep track of where you are, however there are limitations such as in deep jungles, tunnels or amidst the dense high buildings this system reaches its limitation.

Autonomous worker guidance

This is where everyone wants to be, every offering made by worker guidance company would wish they can offer this. This is not limited to worker guidance, here we are looking at a system that can observe the worker and understand at which step the worker currently is, what the worker must do next, and in case of any deviation alter the worker of possible mistakes. This is where integration of various sensors and systems such as computer vision based on cameras, sensor fusion for various sensors in the environment, active communication with external services such as MES / ERP etc becomes necessary. 

Where is TRiMiTi in this picture?

TRiMiTi is at this stage, and in our understanding, we are here without a lot of competitors being able to offer the same. When it comes to an example with navigation, this is like using the cameras and other sensors on the car to deduce its position even if external signals are unavailable. At the moment, there aren’t many automakers who offer such a feature, but with advancement in AI, this is not too far off. TRiMiTi can understand the work instructions like a human, and TRiMiTi is also able to deduce using AI where in the working steps the worker/work-object currently is. With this information TRiMiTi can actually guide the worker in following steps, with minimal to zero-user-interaction. We are further aiming to advance our offering by improving the understanding and comprehension of worker guidance using further instances of AI in TRiMiTi and connected workplaces. 

Source: LinkedIn Newsletter Future of Automation & IIoT (Link) by Sourabh Bodas (Link)


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