Keep your distance: New Wearable device sends proximity alert
By PLANT STAFFInnovation & Technology Manufacturing COVID manufacturing Safety Social Distancer workplace
Two Quebec companies create a company to make the Social Distancer.
Many manufacturers operating through the COVID-19 state of emergency and continuing when restrictions are eased will be challenged by social distancing requirements. In some plant environments, maintaining that two-metre space can be difficult. The spirit of innovation has brought together two Quebec companies and three senior executives to combine their expertise and co-found a company to produce a device that addresses the safe space issue.
Jarred Knecht, president of Promark Electronics Inc., John Soares, vice-president and Steve Zimmermann, president and CEO of CMP Advanced Mechanical Solutions, have formed Social Distancer Technologies Inc. (https://gosocialdistancer.com). Zimmermann is the president and CEO of the new company.
Promark and CMP Advanced Mechanical (combined) operate 500,000 square-feet of manufacturing in both Canada and the US with more than 800 employees. Watching their team members navigate the distancing challenge led to the development of a wearable alert called the Social Distancer.
The credit card-sized, patent-pending device instantly calculates the distance between employees and generates a visual, vibration and tone alert when employees are too close.
“Most workers have to interact collaboratively with one another at some point in their day, and it can be difficult to maintain physical distancing practices. The Social Distancer was developed as an easy solution for workers to continue their projects while maintaining proper safety standards during COVID-19,” says Knecht, COO of the new company.
The development of the Social Distancer came together from concept to pre-production in four-weeks thanks to a cross-functional design team of 14 people that included hardware, software and mechanical engineers.
“The COVID-19 landscape is something new to all of us. We brought together our experts, with advisory support and research and development funding from NRC IRAP, to help our employees not only stay safe, but also be able to work freely and comfortably,” says Soares, vice-president of Social Distancer Technologies. “Employees can go on with their workday without awkward conversations, unexpected proximity issues, or discrepancy about what is exactly [two metres].”
The executives say the device will be manufactured by various Canadian partner companies and initially sold in Canada, the US and Mexico, but eventually it will roll out through global channel partners.
The $199 unit lasts 10 to 12 hours on a single charge.
Production is underway and first order fulfillment was set for the last week in May.
This article originally appeared in PLANT Magazine’s May-June 2020 print issue.