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Using AI in warehouse safety

28 October 2021

DEVELOPED THROUGH its W² Labs programme Wincanton is using wearable technology and artificial intelligence to improve health and safety in the warehouse, reducing spine hazards per hour by 30%.

Poor manual handling technique is the main cause of reportable accidents across the logistics industry, with ergonomic injuries responsible for 33% of all workplace injuries and more than 55% of injury costs.

In 2019 the Wincanton W2 Labs programme focused on safety. W2 encourages start-ups and emerging suppliers to pitch ideas for how digitisation can drive improvement across the supply chain.

Soter Analytics was successful in qualifying in 2019, with a proposition that informs processes to create better workspaces. Its wearable technologies help reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injury for Wincanton colleagues in the warehouse. Wincanton trialled the wearable technology and artificial intelligence in a variety of operations, which provided impressive results.

Since then, Wincanton has utilised two solutions from Soter Analytics to reduce the risk of ergonomic injuries among colleagues. SoterSpine is focused on lifting activities, such as picking operations, while SoterShoulder is designed for pushing activities such as roll cage movements and home deliveries.

Both solutions consist of a lightweight wearable sensor worn on the collar of workwear, close to the shoulder or spine. The device measures and monitors the wearers at-risk movements, providing real-time audible, vibration and visual biofeedback. This software platform uses an algorithm to identify problematic movements and the risk of ergonomic injuries with all data collated for deeper analysis on the management dashboard.

Artificial intelligence then creates a personalised coaching programme for individual Wincanton colleagues to prevent back and shoulder injuries in the workplace. And if a colleague is returning to work after experiencing an injury the Soter devices will capture data to mitigate further injuries, which in turn provides training to manage the avoidance of re-injury.

Today Soter Analytics is used across eight operations at Wincanton and has delivered a 30% reduction in Spine Hazards per Hour, reducing incidences of poor bending, back twisting and repetitive movements for colleagues in the warehouse. The artificial intelligence takes five days to develop positional self-awareness.

For more information, visit www.wincanton.co.uk