Over the past few years, we’ve seen new challenges arise for manufacturing organizations, as well as security and safety concerns along the supply chain, as demand for produced goods sees massive increases. This was only heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, as online purchasing trends put intense strain on both manufacturers and suppliers.

As such, security and operational requirements are changing, and new technology offered by smart cameras is providing an entirely new way of monitoring and controlling safety measures and optimizing process flow within manufacturing and logistics operations. Ultimately, these technologies are making logistics safer while optimizing operations within manufacturing plants, benefitting both businesses and customers.

The potential of smart cameras, when coupled with the Internet of Things (IoT), brings the power of automation to improve many pain points for production and logistics facilities. Through the combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and powerful computer processors, manufacturing operations can deploy smart cameras that have the capability to meet many security, safety and business optimization uses.

Equipped with AI-enabled video analytics applications, smart cameras detect anomalies in operations by analyzing the video data directly on the camera and providing alerts to personnel. Many concerns detected by the cameras often go unseen by the human eye but can have significant impact on efficiency of operations and overall customer experience.

Prioritizing employee safety with smart cameras

Even though machines already perform many tasks today, people still staff warehouses and many production plants. When forklift trucks pass by at high speed or picking robots move heavy containers at dizzying heights, the health of workers must be protected. The first step is to ensure compliance with safety rules, as many accidents are caused by carelessness, improper use of machines, human error or personnel not complying with safety regulations.

Using video analytics apps, smart camera solutions can monitor whether employees are wearing safety clothing through the identification of hardhats, high visibility vests, work goggles, shoes and even special protection belts.

In the event an incident occurs, such security technology can assist in early detection when response time could be of critical importance. Similar to the prevention of break-ins and theft, smart cameras equipped with behavior detection analytics can help to automatically recognize accidents at an early stage. For example, if a worker falls to the ground or is hit by a falling object, the system recognizes this as unusual behavior and reports it immediately.

Emphasizing security along the supply chain

Video analytics can assist warehouses and logistics service providers in successfully delivering the correct product to the right location and customer in original condition, accomplishments that require the supply chain to be both secure and efficient.

Throughout the manufacturing and shipping process, smart cameras can assist in monitoring the condition of packaging along the entire supply chain, detecting open or damaged boxes, providing automated detection of one of the major issues in logistics.  The latest camera technology and intelligent software algorithms can analyze footage directly on the camera– making it easier and more efficient to detect a damaged package at the loading dock before the delivery is accepted and the product is loaded onto a truck for delivery to the customer.

At the facility level, smart cameras can also alert drivers with incoming shipments of empty loading bays for offloading or alert facility staff of potential blockages or hazards for inbound and outbound vehicles that could delay delivery schedules that are planned down to the minute.

Cameras equipped with license plate recognition analytics can also support entry and exit management by detecting incoming and outgoing trucks. By doing so, manufacturing facilities and warehouses can utilize analytical insights for access control purposes and increase security by ensuring only authorized vehicles can enter.

Optimizing inventory management and production

As any warehouse or manufacturing manager knows, the more goods being moved and the higher the turnover rate, the more complex it becomes to record individual units and their condition. Smart cameras are used to manage large inventories in warehouse facilities.

As such, cameras do not have to be permanently installed in buildings, but instead could be located on drones that move autonomously through inventory and capture data by scanning barcodes. When goods and boxes of different sizes have to be stored using a maximum efficiency of space, smart cameras can help to recognize incoming and outgoing items in real time, according to size and format– enabling picking machines to sort them appropriately, optimizing storage and efficiency of space.

Additionally, business intelligence applications running on a smart camera can reduce downtime by foreseeing potential interruptions or production jams and alerting staff in real time, allowing them to take action immediately. These same cameras can be equipped with apps that analyze overall production flow to evaluate specific bottlenecks or occasional delays on the manufacturing floor. Facility staff can also use this information to optimize a manufacturing facility’s layout by analyzing potential obstructions or obstacles that would prohibit efficient production.

Manufacturing and logistics facilities find themselves required to become faster and more efficient each day. Smart cameras can help monitor security and operations in real time, but also seamlessly document the proper production, handling and transportation of goods– directly contributing to overall customer satisfaction. Smart cameras equipped with AI-enabled applications are providing a new technological solution for operational security, safety and efficiency that will no doubt become part of the tool kit for organizations looking for flexibility in the safety and efficiency tools they select for their facility.