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Social Innovation

Reopening: A New Dimension

By Eldor Reif, Senior Manager, Solutions Strategy Planning at Hitachi America, Ltd., and Hiroshi Murakawa, Vice President and General Manager, Digital Solutions Division at Hitachi America, Ltd.

Use 3D Digital Design Platform to Remotely Reopen Your Facilities

The long-term impact of COVID-19 on manufacturing is unknown, but we do know about the short term: This crisis is global, and it has affected more than 75% of manufacturing output around the world.1 Supply chains have been disrupted, and demand has altered dramatically. Many companies proved resilient in realigning their supply chains, but gaps remain, and long-term demand is still a concern.

A World Economic Forum and Kearney study has recently shown that companies recognize their first priority is to protect their workforce.2 We have already seen in-office workers join the remote workforce overnight. But not every job can be done at home. Manufacturers must bring back workers, and to do so safely, they must implement safety protocols such as staggering shifts to eliminate contact between workers on different shifts. Successfully reopening factories during this pandemic requires careful planning.

As you prepare to reopen your facilities, you’ll need to take steps to keep your employees safe. Digital technology can help you mitigate the COVID-19 threat through capabilities such as:

  • Social distancing detection, tracking, analysis and reporting (DTAR)
  • Health behavior monitoring DTAR, including detection of hand washing, falls and employee temperature
  • Worker safety DTAR, including alerts of dangerous or irregular actions
  • Touchless access, enabling access and entry through 3D gesture and click systems

Now is the time to begin evaluating your operations and planning your strategy for reopening. But now is not the time to deploy groups of people into a large manufacturing site to assess your space.

However, you need a thorough assessment of your site so that you can plan to align the space with new health and safety requirements. So, how can you evaluate your site quickly, without putting your people at risk?

Safer planning from a distance

With an original and patent-pending, 3D digital design simulator platform (#3DEZ) and accurate 3D site survey services, you can accelerate the site’s assessment and create a realistic plan to move forward — right from the desktop. By using the 3D Design Simulator, you minimize the number of people entering the plant to measure and plan layout and the placement of new equipment. A time-saving and accurate tool under any circumstances, the advanced 3DEZ platform brings added value in the current circumstances. It helps protect people during the planning phase and provides a precise planning tool on real-life 3D models to help improve safety for returning employees.

Starting with your site assessment, an advanced 3DEZ platform with a modern 3D site scanning technology simplifies the survey of the plant almost anywhere. Instead of a team of people on-site performing a manual survey, one person can set up the 3D site scan mobile kit and perform a survey within hours. That’s it. 3D scanning procedure is quick and easy and minimizes risk to the surveyors by reducing the number of people who must be present on-site.

The 3DEZ Simulator can then create digital blueprints from the scanned data within 24 hours for most projects. With the right 3D simulator, you can work remotely to plan how to implement technology and layout changes to make the best use of space while protecting your employees. You can use simulated views from scans of the actual space to identify where to place cameras and various sensors, and you can experiment with different layouts that improve workflow for social distancing.

Hitachi’s 3DEZ Simulator Platform can help you:

  • Transform your site into a 3D digital blueprint. An automated solution lets you rapidly capture and generate interactive 3D models from real-world buildings, retail spaces, transit and rail systems, warehouses and other facilities.
  • Optimize asset placement. Once you’ve developed a real-world 3D model, you can safely and remotely perform preoccupancy planning for social distancing, site optimization, asset placement, and simulation to prepare to reopen your site.
  • Remotely access and study offsite locations. A flexible, high-availability platform-as-a-service solution lets you virtually explore, navigate, and reimagine facilities with accurate point-to-point measurements — all without leaving your office.
  • Support cost-effective collaboration. An effective solution will empower you to collaborate with stakeholders using powerful new design tools, so you can obtain faster pre-approvals of proposals and minimize expensive and risky site visits and reworks.
  • Access a nationwide 3D survey services network. Choose a solution that can provide localized professional services, so you can generate 3D models of job sites or train your staff to perform scans in-house.

Many technology options are available, but for maximum flexibility, it’s essential to choose a technology-agnostic platform. You might want to mix and match a camera from one vendor with a data analytics platform from another. What’s important is to assemble the solution that is best aligned to your requirements and take advantage of economies of scale.

Planning for the short term, building for the long term

Secure Our City, Inc., which designs, delivers, and supports customized physical security solutions, recently employed 3DEZ Simulator to develop a proof of concept for a COVID-19 testing site at a university. Secure Our City scanned and digitally documented more than 30 IT rooms across four campuses around the state. The client was impressed with the work and plans to include 3D digital blueprints as part of its requirements in the future.

“Since the proof of concept and adoption, we have standardized on 3D digital blueprints and 3D design as part of our offering to all of our clients,” said Geva Barash, Founder and CEO of Secure Our City. “It was very impressive how quickly the on-site 3D scan process went. We planned for two days and completed the process a half-day early. We definitely see the benefits of using this technology, and fully expect it to be the standard in the next two to three years.”

Tapping technology to reopen safely when the time comes

Sirius, a leading national IT solutions integrator, was already using Hitachi’s 3DEZ platform to perform mapping for a potential healthcare client as well as modeling for its own advanced healthcare lab. So when the pandemic hit, the company already understood what the technology could do and how it could expedite reopening when the time comes.

”3DEZ is instrumental in helping us make design decisions about how to deploy thermal imaging stations,” said Imran Salim, senior vice president of Healthcare Strategy and Solutions at Sirius. “For example, should we locate a kiosk in our lobby, or by the entranceway where people first walk in? Or should it sit by the elevator? Should we have multiple locations? Should we route foot traffic in a different way? In addition to helping us with these reopening decisions, we’re also looking at additional ways we can use 3DEZ in the future, for ourselves and in the solutions we provide to our clients.”

Looking beyond the crisis

Effective planning is key to successfully reopening your manufacturing facility without compromising safety — and future business continuity. Getting back to capacity is good for the business and good for your employees. And while navigating the current crisis is critical, you can do much more with the right strategy. An effective solution will also empower you with artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics to perform ongoing remote monitoring, so you can continue to refine and optimize your environment to support the new normal in the months and years ahead.

The COVID-19 crisis has taken a massive human toll. But our response to it can also point the way forward toward a better way of designing manufacturing facilities to be more agile, efficient, and safe. For manufacturers looking to resume operations while rededicating themselves to social innovation and powering good, these lessons learned can be the first step toward a brighter future.

Learn more about 3D Solutions and Services.

Eldor Reif
Senior Manager, Solutions Strategy Planning for 3D Digital Solutions, Hitachi America, Ltd.

Eldor Reif is the senior manager for solutions strategy planning at Hitachi America, Ltd. Eldor focuses on the creation of new and innovative, high-quality digital solutions for customers and partners. He formulates long-term collaboration with Hitachi groups, manufacturers, service providers, system integrators and technology partners. Eldor’s recent experience includes owning new 3D digital solutions lifecycle, product planning, market research, solution requirements definition, technical assessments and benchmarking.

Hiroshi Murakawa
Vice President, General Manager, Digital Solutions Division, Hitachi America, Ltd.

Hiroshi Murakawa heads the Digital Solutions Division at Hitachi America, Ltd. His practice focuses on delivering the digital solutions for the industry fields. His background includes more than 30 years at Hitachi, Ltd. including 10 years with Hitachi America, Ltd. (2003-2008, 2015-present).

World Economic Forum, “How to rebound stronger from COVID-19,” April 2020