8 Trends Shaping Industrial Wearables and Robotics

8 Trends Shaping Industrial Wearables and Robotics

Link to the full article from SDCExecutive

Wearables and robotics technologies companies share trends and predictions for the warehouse management system sector in 2021.

FANUC collaborative robot
Market growth is expected with industrial robots, commonly used for mundane tasks, picking, loading orders and transportation, among other order fulfillment jobs, as well as wearables, in the supply chain industry.
Credit FANUC

Consumer demand is driving a fast pace of new technology adoption in the supply chain industry. In the pursuit of increased accuracy, speed and safety on the warehouse floor, supply chain companies are increasingly adding wearables and robotics to tasks such as loading, unloading, picking, packing, shipping and receiving. Within warehouse and distribution center management, companies are using wearable and robotic hardware and software systems to move the needle on productivity and efficiency.

Tech companies are scaling up what their devices and software programs can offer and have identified several industry trends that will likely unfold in coming years.

“We’re already seeing a huge shift at the EHS (environment, health, safety) level, in large part enabled by biometric wearables, from accidents to near misses and prediction and prevention based on the individual,” says Heidi Lehmann, co-founder of Kenzen. “Trend data that can be truly used to optimize health, safety and productivity, at both the human and machine/operational levels are truly transforming the worksite at a rapid pace. Some analysts are calling this the fourth industrial revolution. It’s quite exciting.”

wearables market growth

A recent report published by Research and Markets predicts the industrial wearable devices market to exceed $2.78 billion by 2024. Credit TeamViewer


Growing market for robotics, wearables

Devices and software designed to increase efficiency and improve safety on the warehouse floor are growing in popularity in the supply chain.

Industrial wearables track activities and tasks, help workers complete tasks faster and measure health and safety parameters, resulting in fewer injury reports. Most industrial wearables provide real-time data and analytics, allowing employers and managers to tweak workflows on the fly, leading to improved numbers in profitability and productivity.

report published by Research and Markets in June 2019 predicts the industrial wearable devices market to exceed $2.78 billion by 2024, increasing annually at a rate of 9.2%, with smart watches holding the largest share of growth.

In January, Gartner, Inc. published a report forecasting an $81.5 billion global spend on wearable devices in 2021. This includes spending on smartwatches, wristbands, ear-worn devices, head-mounted displays, smart clothing and smart patches used for health monitoring. In 2020, the greatest increase in spending was on headphones for video calling and use with smartphones, largely due to pandemic-related workflow changes. The report partly credits improvements in sensor accuracy as why the devices are growing in popularity. Advancements in miniaturization have also played a role in the growth.

Similar market growth is expected with industrial robots, commonly used for mundane tasks, picking, loading orders and transportation, among other order fulfillment jobs. A McKinsey & Company report noted that $2.4 billion is spent annually on industrial robotic arms and automation machines. Since 2010, the spend has increased 10% annually, and as of a few years ago, there were at least 2 million robots in use on factory floors, warehouse and similar locations. The report predicted that number to increase to 4.4 million by 2023.

Through the increased use of autonomous robots, which use machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to complete tasks, and collaborative robots, or cobots, designed to work alongside humans, the market segment for industrial robots is forecasted to grow to $14.9 billion globally in logistics, according to a report by Fortune Business Insights.


Kenzen wearable device

Kenzen produces wearable devices and a monitoring platform designed to predict and prevent injuries on the jobsite. The device is worn on the upper arm and samples a worker’s physiology every five seconds. Credit Kenzen


Greater adoption of safety wearables

Wearables, devices that use sensors to monitor worker health, environmental hazards and other issues, received a nod of approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a 2019 report that noted that the tools can be a valuable in maintaining the safety of workers in industrial settings.

Kenzen produces wearable devices and a monitoring platform designed to predict and prevent injuries on the warehouse floor. The device is worn on the upper arm and samples a worker’s physiology every five seconds.

“The system sends alerts in real time to workers and safety managers, alerting them when a worker is reaching an unsafe level physiologically,” Lehmann says. “The solution provides protection and intervention in the moment at the worksite, as well as informs changes and planning at one or multiple worksites to enable a safer and more productive workforce.”

Monitoring a worker’s health is important when working in high temperatures, with tasks requiring physical exertion, when employees have pre-existing medical conditions or are dehydrated, she says.

“As individuals, we are all different physiologically depending on gender, age, cardiovascular health, preexisting medical conditions and medications,” Lehmann says. “This is why monitoring workers on sites at the individual level is so important. Customized work/rest schedules, hydration plans, as well as shift changes at the site level, all contribute greatly to total worker health.”

Kenzen software dashboard

Managers who are monitoring data across worksites receive insights into worker safety and health, but at that level, workers’ names and identities are kept private. Credit Kenzen


More workers will realize wearables can maintain privacy

Workers need to know their privacy is maintained while wearing the devices, she adds.

“We need to make sure the worker is very comfortable with our solution,” Lehmann says. “This begins with the actual comfort of the device when worn by a worker, to worker privacy and making sure the worker understands that the platform has been designed with their privacy in mind.”

According to Lehmann, the worker is the only one who can see their own biometric information in detail and in real time.

“Other user groups only see the information they need to keep the worker safe,” she says. “For example, a safety manager would understand, through the team dashboard, when a worker is calibrating in a dangerous direction and needs assistance or needs to rest, yet they don’t see any specific personal health details, only that an intervention may be needed.”

Managers who are monitoring data across worksites receive insights into worker safety and health, but at that level, workers’ names and identities are kept private.

“Leaders see all data across a worksite, or many worksites, but data is deidentified and retrospective, providing insightful, yet non-individualized site insights such as core body temperature risk levels, productivity levels, microclimates, and heat alert frequencies,” Lehmann says.

Using connected wearables on the jobsite is still new, she says, and some companies need to augment their connectivity capabilities if they want to outfit dozens of workers.

“There can be challenges at the IT level to ensure scale across hundreds or even thousands of workers,” she says. “However, worksites are changing very rapidly as the industrial internet of things becomes more and more prolific across commercial sites of all types.”




Small Business, Big Mission: Startup Kenzen embodies KC area’s opportunities

Small Business, Big Mission: Startup Kenzen embodies KC area’s opportunities

Link to the full article from Kansas City Business Journal

By Leslie Collins, Staff Writer, Kansas City Business Journal

Heidi Lehmann is co-founder and chief commercialization officer of Kenzen.

Heidi Lehmann is co-founder and chief commercialization officer of Kenzen.


Heidi Lehmann has built companies in New York, Silicon Valley and near Boston. Now, the serial entrepreneur is building Kenzen in Kansas City.

“There’s a lot of intellectual capital here around industrial technology that you’re going to be hard-pressed to find in other places,” Lehmann said. “It just helps you gain depth in what you’re doing. … Because then there’s more of a roadmap, and you see which way you need to build and which route is the right way to proceed.”

Lehmann, co-founder and chief commercialization officer, wants to make Kenzen the premier physiological monitoring platform to protect workers from such safety threats as heat-related injuries and overexertion. Kenzen’s service includes a device workers wear to monitor physiological changes. It’s waterproof and ruggedized, and its design ensures safe operation in hazardous areas.

It’s all part of the industrial Internet of Things.

“It’s an absolutely enormous space, and I think, more and more, there’s this realization that there’s been a lot done to protect machines but not as much to protect workers.”

Lehmann chose Kansas City as the main headquarters for several reasons: affordability; a talent base being cultivated by companies like Garmin Ltd. and Cerner Corp.; and access to investors, domain expertise and potential customers.

The area also offers companies in adjacent markets, such as SafetyCulture, which helps customers monitor and audit measures to increase workplace safety. The two have compared notes, such as trends they’re seeing. A rising tide lifts all boats, Lehmann said.

More than just housing innovative companies, Kansas City backs them. To date, Kenzen has raised about $10 million, with its biggest concentration of investors in Kansas City. Two early investors, Women’s Capital Connection and Mid-America Angels, spurred additional links to area investors.

KCRise Fund, a locally focused venture capital fund, introduced Kenzen to prospective customers, including two that are in serious discussions. The startup’s local office is inside the headquarters of VC fund Royal Street Ventures. Lehmann can easily walk across the hall for advice.

Another local investor is Examinetics Inc., an occupational health screening and testing company. Examinetics promotes Kenzen’s offering to its base of 3,000-plus clients in more than 15,000 locations. Kenzen gains access to an extensive network of customer relationships and accelerates its ability to scale.

As Kenzen enters its Series A funding round, Lehmann knows the company can count on area investors to make warm introductions.

“We have investors and partners that we couldn’t have accessed in other places. I can’t think of a better place to be based.”


What it does: Developed predictive physiological monitoring software and a wearable device designed to keep workforces safe from heat, fatigue and overexertion

Employees: 12

Founded: 2014

Locations: Dual headquarters in Kansas City and New York City

The outlook: Kenzen sits in the Internet of Things category, which is expected to grow from $726 billion in 2019 to $1.1 trillion by 2023. Kenzen has customers worldwide and expects its Examinetics partnership will help it reach the “next phase of growth.”




NEW YORK CITY (March 23, 2021) – Kenzen has launched a data and analytics dashboard, the latest component of its smart PPE connected worker solution. The dashboard captures workers’ core body temperature (the greatest predictor of heat stress and illness), productivity, and microclimates caused by clothing under hot and humid working conditions. 

Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) managers and company leaders can now have a data-driven overview of work sites, both real time and retrospectively, to evaluate heat risk information by location and job role. The analysis consists of tens of thousands of data points collected per worker per day from the Kenzen wearable which tracks physiological factors including core temperature and heart rate. The Kenzen system uniquely enables companies to identify and address challenges and opportunities related to work in hot and humid conditions. The information allows them to manage risk and improve processes to keep workers safer and more productive. 

Last year, Kenzen unveiled the monitoring device and its complimentary mobile app that alerts workers when they are at risk of heat stress and illness and when to stop work, rest, and return to work safely. The hardware and app work together to feed data to the real-time dashboard for supervisors to monitor their teams proactively and intervene when necessary. 

Kenzen’s new analytics dashboard allows senior managers, who on average are responsible for 10 teams of 10 people each day, to dig deeper into the data and have a holistic view across worksites and teams. The dashboard provides insight into how various environments affect workers and uses the information to guide management in the implementation of changes to keep workers safer while optimizing productivity. Actionable feedback enables tailoring of work/rest schedules and identification of PPE clothing with the least impact on worker performance. 

The complete Kenzen solution integrates the company’s commitment to personal data privacy; only workers can view the details of their personal health information and safety managers and other EHS leaders only see what’s necessary to keep the worker safe. 

“The latest tool in the Kenzen connected worker solution comes just in time for a summer that’s expected to be one of the most extreme on record,” said Heidi Lehmann, Kenzen co-founder and chief commercial officer. Lehmann adds that, for every 10-degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature, there is a 393 percent increase in hospitalizations for heat exposure. “Now companies have the power to predict and prevent heat-related injuries and deaths and manage productivity at the same time.” 

About Kenzen 

Founded in 2016, Kenzen is the premier physiological monitoring platform to keep workforces safe from heat, fatigue, and over exertion on the job while providing data driven insights to maintain productivity. For more information about heat stress and how to integrate the system into a safety plan, visit Kenzen.com. 

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Preventing Heat Risks to Workers in Various Climates

Preventing Heat Risks to Workers in Various Climates

A Case Study in Preventing Heat Risk for 28 Workers in 10 Cities During the Hot Summer of 2020

By Ryan Smith, Regional Safety Manager, Garney Construction

Garney Construction is always looking for new ways to help bolster its safety program. An assistant project manager, working in hot and humid south Florida, researched heat safety and ways to keep the crews as safe as possible during the hot summer months. What he found were smart personal protective equipment wearable health monitors. Garney management decided to explore the benefits of continuously monitoring its employee-owners at work sites to track heat stresses and help predict and prevent injuries and the risk of fatalities from overexertion in hot and humid environments.

Heat is a major concern on a construction site. Most workers think they know their bodies’ limits in the heat, but many don’t stop working when they reach those limits and push through signs of heat stress. Workers can self-monitor their bodies’ physiological factors with wearable devices, which indicate when the body starts to negatively respond to overexertion during hot and humid conditions. Garney decided to try the technology. Not only would workers receive warning signals when their bodies were under stress, managers would receive alerts to intervene if a worker was tempted to keep working, despite their body’s need for rest, hydration and other interventions to return to safe working levels.

During kick-off of the testing phase, the field staff was initially apprehensive. They had to remember to affix a sensor—in this case via an arm strap—that monitored certain health indicators throughout activity during the workday. But once the device was secured and comfortable, employee-owners were able to work normally and the device was largely forgotten. The crews wanted to know who would see their health data, but by partnering with the manufacturer for the training and onboarding, they were assured no one but them would see their personal information. The only information the supervisor would see would be an alert that indicated a worker’s body had reached a dangerous heat level, and work should stop to allow for rest and other cool-down practices, depending on the level of health risk.

Garney’s crews were working in several locations from California to Virginia. The company conducted week-long tests at 10 sites over the course of the two hottest working months of 2020. Data was collected by sensors on the workers that continuously monitored their heart rate, body temperature and respiration. Workers’ phones vibrated to indicate if a physiological threshold of safety had been surpassed. At the same time, managers on site received alerts on their tablets about individual employee-owners who needed to take a break and cool down. Via a team-view dashboard, they could track everyone’s heat health on site throughout the day.

Cumulative data from across all the test sites was compiled and analyzed by Garney’s Safety Council, made up of superintendents, project managers, safety professionals and officers who focus on the safety needs of the company. Analytics from the test helped the Safety Council determine the overall health and safety of workers across the entire business and the data was used to inform how to improve the company’s safety programs.

Garney now has the data to know when to provide rest breaks and treatment for individuals with varying levels of ability to work in the heat and humid. Age, weight, gender, fitness, medications and previous medical conditions all play a part in determining the tolerance of working in the heat. The frequency and length of breaks need to vary depending on those factors. Providing shade, hydration, ice baths, elevating feet and other tactics can aid in cooling the body. The PPE monitoring devices not only kept workers healthier, they increased productivity because the system was customized to each worker’s body needs, and when. This allows workers to perform better and more efficiently throughout the workday.

Advancements in technology have been improving all phases of construction for years. Having smart PPE monitoring devices in place is similar to when compact gas monitors became readily available. Protecting crews from unseen gas or lack of oxygen was once the job of a canary. The new worker wearable systems are the new canary in the coal mine with the potential to have the same impact on heat-related safety risks.

Click here for the full article from Construction Executive