June 28, 2019

By Joe Boyle, CEO, TRUCE Software

Manufacturers and industrial enterprises across industries have embraced the benefits of mobile computing and smart devices in the workplace. These operations use smart phones and tablets for better performance on the production floor, efficiency on the assembly line and heightened communication across the supply chain. However, with the inherent benefits of mobile technology in the workplace comes serious responsibility.

From tripping to falling down stairs, injuries are likely to occur when employees are focused on their mobile devices and not fully engaged with their surroundings. Studies repeatedly confirm that a majority of employees use their devices for an hour a day or more on non-work-related activities, which means they’re not attending to the job at hand. Production floor managers, plant supervisors and operational leadership must not only address the safety concerns due to mobile device distraction but also its effect on productivity.

If abused, these devices can also lead to increased liability issues and significant financial loss associated with matters beyond poor productivity – injury or death of an employee. Manufacturing plants and other industrial work environments characteristically hold an increased number of safety hazards. A worker on the production floor disregarding device policies by talking on their phone may be completely unaware of forklift activity and easily struck. Employees who work with or around heavy industrial equipment may also become distracted by their devices, increasing the chance of injury to themselves or to others.

Industrial organizations are re-evaluating how to grasp the benefits of mobile computing while managing its impacts on worker productivity and safety. More than half of U.S. employers agree that mismanaged mobile devices are a primary detriment to productivity in the workplace. This is driving the unquestionable need for mobile device policies that can be seamlessly implemented and enforced. Unlike a traditional office space, the production cycle for many manufacturers includes various environments with large machinery and company or grey fleet vehicles. This makes it difficult to balance operational needs with safe, productive usage of mobile devices.

What’s the solution?

Let’s start with determining what the solution should accomplish. An effective management platform must:

  • Be device agnostic.
  • Be contextually aware and able to adjust to changing conditions.
  • Utilize non-defeatable technology.

This is where the answer, Contextual Mobile Device Management, comes into play. CMDM manages the functionality of mobile devices in contextual “zones,” which informs acceptable use and defines intelligent usage policies. Contextual AI can sense when an employee is behind the wheel, using heavy equipment or operating large machinery, for example. Leveraging such technology allows companies to proactively eliminate liabilities while improving employee productivity rates.

How does it work?

The CMDM platform is comprised of both a mobile app on the employee’s device and a management console. The app utilizes contextual indicators – location, proximity or movement– to intelligently detect high-risk work zones. Selected mobile applications and functions are then either made available or blocked to fit job requirements. CMDM technology not only helps organizations implement and enforce their mobile device policies, it also helps them determine how to optimize mobility solutions to achieve unique business goals.

The most substantial takeaway is this: CMDM helps supervisors, plant managers and crew leaders improve safety, productivity and policy compliance by allowing employees to use their mobile devices in the right way at the right time in the right place.

Why is it different?

The contextual ability of this technology solution is reason enough to differentiate it from the rest, but unlike more restrictive policies that require completely locking down a device or prohibiting usage altogether, CMDM operates to fit the needs of a company’s policy only when and where it matters most. Once an employee has exited a high-risk work zone, they have full access to their device. Fifty-nine percent of organizations report having a BYOD policy in place, so this feature is mission critical.

By not physically limiting access to devices, employers can enable their employees to adequately engage with the technology needed to complete their jobs more efficiently while combating time-consuming interruptions that compromise safety and productivity. CMDM also attenuates privacy concerns, as the technology only manages applications and device functionality and doesn’t access or record personal data.

CMDM technology isn’t about controlling end-user devices. It’s about helping companies create safer, more productive workplaces that enable their employees to do their best work, ultimately boosting bottom line. Rather than banning mobile devices, employers need to embrace technology to reinforce productive behaviors and optimize resources to safely and efficiently complete tasks. Simply put, CMDM is a pillar for a smarter workforce in an increasingly connected world.

Boyle Joe TRUCE Software CEO, Industry TodayAbout the Author:
For more than 20 years, Joe Boyle has led high-performance teams in technology companies, creating a proven track record of success in both SaaS and software business models. Over the course of his career, Boyle has achieved successful outcomes in leading integration activities for these companies. As chief executive officer at TRUCE Software, Boyle brings a passion for enhancing companies’ safety standards and improving their overall productivity through contextual mobile device management.

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