Across most industries, the path to digital transformation has been straight and steady. But for many organizations, pandemic response and recovery has put the transition into overdrive. The good news? Technologies already deployed for business innovation can also be used to keep people safe, and move daily operations forward—in the office, in the warehouse, and on the factory floor.
Take a manufacturing application, for example. Production operations using computer vision and AI for predictive maintenance can be expanded for additional use cases. This means companies can turn on a dime to automate health and safety protocols at scale with the infrastructure already in place.
Insight Enterprises, a global technology solutions provider, has done just that. The company uses its own Internet of Things Connected Platform for Detection and Prevention to keep many of its offices and warehouses open—minimizing business disruptions practically since day one of the pandemic.
The solution’s foundational technology—already deployed across many smart public-space use cases—is the reason Insight could build a health and safety application so fast.
“We already had the infrastructure in place for IoT device health, remote reset, calibration, management, and more,” explains Jeff Dodge, Director of Insight Enterprises Digital Innovation Solutions Division. “So it just became a question of how to extract additional insights from temperature-sensing devices, and then use that operational intelligence as needed. And the Connected Platform was literally already built for this.”
“We already had the infrastructure in place for IoT device health, remote reset, calibration, management so it just became a question of how to extract additional insights as needed.”
—Jeff Dodge, Insight Enterprises
New Safety Protocols Depend on AI Tech
Insight’s edge-to-cloud strategy is an important element of the solution, especially for its customers in manufacturing, food processing, or pharmaceuticals, where employees need to be able to collaborate in person and feel safe doing it. “It’s not practical or reliable to have every device individually communicating to the cloud,” explains Dodge. “If the internet goes down, there are bandwidth and latency constraints and storage costs.”
It’s no surprise that Insight uses the solution itself. “Just like our customers, these tools are necessary not only to ensure the security and physical well-being of our staff and loved ones but also their mental well-being,” adds Dodge.
The key is the company’s comprehensive approach, which starts with a brief health assessment that employees take even before leaving home. When they arrive at work, thermal imaging cameras at entry points quickly and subtly check temperatures. And sensor technology helps enforce proper social distancing, mask wearing, and handwashing protocols. When there’s cause for concern, assigned parties receive automatic alerts so they can act quickly (Video 1).
Collaborative Approach to Health Tech
To deliver a complete end-to-end system, Insight has strong partnerships with companies like Dell, HP, Intel®, Microsoft, and Bosch. “We’re able to deliver a higher-velocity solution by leveraging technology through our partners, as opposed to going to each new customer with a blank slate and asking what they wanted to build,” says Dodge.
The platform has a robust cloud infrastructure in Microsoft Azure, and a standard suite of Intel processor-based edge computing devices. These include point tools like thermal cameras, motion and people-counting cameras, Bluetooth-based wearables for contact tracing, and smart hand soap dispensers—all coordinated by edge gateways. For more advanced computer vision use cases, the system incorporates the Intel® OpenVINO™ Toolkit.
The solution is highly customizable, as well. “The Connected Platform wasn’t designed to be a ‘take it or leave it’ point solution,” says Dodge. If a customer wants thermal tracking or thermal sensing, for example, Insight has two options across a few different providers. One uses an access control panel in a kiosk, where a user walks up to it and follows screen prompts. Another uses an advanced camera that scans up to 40 people when they walk by (Figure 1). It can be positioned in an entryway or in a large room to scan groups passing through.
Delivering AI Tech at Scale
Customers also benefit from Insight’s role as a Super Solution Integrator (SSI). From strategy to deployment and follow-on services, Insight can procure all the hardware, cloud, and software components, as well as help design, modify, and scale them. What’s more, it has technicians around the globe to receive and install customized systems.
“Everything the customer needs comes pre-configured,” notes Dodge. “The operating system is already imaged on the device, and there are runbooks, manuals, and a mobile app with prerecorded troubleshooting and training videos. There’s also 24/7 support and a product team on call for escalations when the call center can’t help.”
Businesses that need their employees to collaborate at work can trust that they’re doing it safely with a flexible, end-to-end solution and round-the-clock support. And then they can start focusing on new opportunities: continuous business transformation, new revenue streams, and optimizing operations—today and into the future.