Software in support of survival

The software industry is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in new and interesting ways.

By Kevin Parker August 26, 2020

About six weeks ago, Plant Engineering published a short piece, “Swagelok shares its best practices for essential manufacturing operations.” It turned out to be the magazine’s most-read article in 2020 so far.

The story covers a briefing Swagelok gave to more than 200 manufacturers about what steps it took to remain in operations throughout the current pandemic.

Besides being impressed by the foresight and execution evidenced by Swagelok when it came to dealing with the pandemic, what caught this editor’s attention was the company’s reliance on key print documents, including for self-assessments, close contact guidelines, good hygiene processes, cleaning protocols, return-to-work policies and hardship paid time-off policy. In other words, there was no software for dealing with a Coronavirus.

As you can imagine, it didn’t take long for the software industry to realize its mandate.

Accelerator available

In response to what it calls a massive spike in demand for solutions that can help the world get back to work, VANTIQ announced the Back-to-Work Accelerator: a product that enables software developers to rapidly build real-time applications for safeguarding workplaces against the spread of COVID-19. The accelerator is available now, enabling developers, the company says, to go from concept to large-scale deployments in a matter of weeks.

The Back-To-Work Accelerator includes pre-built components and device integrations that allow developers to build customized and extensible workplace solutions.  These solutions integrate with a spectrum of real-time data sources and devices, including AI-enabled cameras, IoT sensors, real-time location data, enterprise systems and many other technologies.  Six pre-built components —symptom detection, physical distancing, contact tracing, access management, safety compliance and asset monitoring — empower businesses to manage critical events in real time, so that automated systems and human responders can react swiftly and with far greater effectiveness to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

An interesting approach

Atollogy is a computer-vision company using technology to make operational excellence easy and accessible for companies of all shapes and sizes. It says computer vision is a great tool for monitoring social distancing in an era of COVID-19, for potential future pandemics and even the flu.

Atollogy’s newest feature supports social distancing for your workforce. A short video available on the company’s website demonstrates how a real-time dashboard can protect personal privacy while at the same time ensuring workers are adhering to established distancing guidelines you have established, keeping workers safe and manufacturing facilities running.

Besides these two innovative approaches to automating various aspects of dealing with the Coronavirus, the major enterprise software vendors, whether for enterprise resources planning (ERP) or enterprise asset management (EAM), are also putting a stake in the ground.

According to the website EHSInsight, environment, health and safety (EHS) refers to a series of laws, regulations and workplace procedures to protect the well-being of workers. It also refers to the application software modules within ERP systems used to track and manage compliance with those laws, regulations and workplace procedures. EHS modules will be the locus of application software vendors’ development efforts related to COVID-19.

EAM systems, as being concerned with plant facilities and the equipment and machines therein as physical entities, seem well-suited to deal with the steps companies will need to take to reopen and stay open amidst a quick-changing situation.

Look at Plant Engineering’s schedule of upcoming webinars. You’ll see that this is a story we’re following.

Author Bio: Senior contributing editor, CFE Media