Pathfindr, the asset tracking and Industrial IoT tech specialist, has developed a smart safety system that creates ‘virtual exclusion zones’ to protect worker safety in heavy industry, construction and engineering sites, and other hazardous environments.
The new system, called Zonr, was developed in collaboration with one of the UK’s leading Rail Contractors the QTS Group. A proximity alarm alerts workers when a vehicle or other hazard comes close, or if they step into a high-risk area – guiding them through a workplace to avoid potential incidents.
It gives site operators real-time data over incursions, enabling interventions to be made in the moment, as well as providing holistic data to enable overall health and safety process to be improved.
Ben Sturgess, Chief Technology Officer at Pathfindr, said: “A high number of workers are killed every year in the workplace just in the UK, and many more seriously injured. While all sites have health and safety measures and policies in place to protect workers, they rely on human accuracy to identify hazards in fast-moving environments – and we’re all fallible.
“Zonr has been designed to keep people and machines apart, so that workers can focus on doing their jobs efficiently, knowing they’ll be altered to a hazard. No technology will eliminate the need for continual vigilance, but Zonr reduces the risk of a serious incident and helps site operators manage their liability for the safety of site workers.”
Easily and affordably deployable in long-term and short-term use cases, the system relies on a combination of GPS tracking and ultra-wideband technology to locate workers and hazards, and create a dynamic virtual barrier – or exclusion zone – around those hazards.
The exclusion zone is created through signals sent between sensors – which can be placed anywhere within a site – and a control unit. The control unit alerts the operator[MH1] to any incursion, and also lets workers themselves know when they have entered an unsafe zone through a sounded alarm on a wearable device.
Exclusion zones can easily be reconfigured by moving the position of sensors. All setup is completed through a mobile app, and incursion data is easily viewed in real-time via a web-based portal – with data transmitted to the cloud via a 5G connection.
Alan McLeish, Managing Director at QTS Group, said: “At QTS, the safety of our employees is of the utmost importance to us, especially as the railway can be a complex and dangerous environment. Our live sites are dynamic, and no two scenarios are ever identical, which means that ensuring health and safety is an ongoing challenge.
“We’ve combined our in-depth understanding of the complex ways that railway sites operate with Pathfindr’s smart tech expertise to create a solution which has the potential to have a major impact on the way site safety risk is managed.”
Zonr is an evolution of Pathfindr’s Safe Distancing Assistant, a wearable device to support social distancing, which was launched amid the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak in 2020.