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Applying machine learning to improve the safety of heavy industry workforces

CASE STUDY: Mafic and University of Southampton

How Mafic has collaborated with the University of Southampton to deploy its technology into field devices to increase workforce safety and productivity

Mafic is an innovative information company, based at the Surrey Technology Centre, that uses a combination of machine learning, cloud services and Internet of Things (IoT).

The company is focused on how the application of industry 4.0 technology to the construction industry can improve health, safety and productivity of the workforce.

Improving productivity and industrial health

To develop new machine learning solutions for such heavy industries, Mafic signed up to SPRINT to collaborate with the University of Southampton. This technology project was aimed at edge computing and enabling real-time communication and analysis of data from remote locations.

Mafic has worked with the University of Southampton to exploit established space-based technology for data collection and transmission, as well as developing new machine learning architectures that demand lower computational power and narrower bandwidths. This will allow the technology to be more readily deployed into field devices (Internet of Things) through satellite communication technology and become less dependent on terrestrial forms of communication.

Bringing the technology into the workplace

As a result of the SPRINT project, Mafic’s technology has been incorporated into wearable devices worn by the workforce as well as positioned on vehicles and materials. From the machine learning architecture positioned on these devices, it will now be possible to understand the location and activity of a large workforce/fleet of vehicles/materials at all times and for this data to be used to make better decisions by site management, leading to a healthier workforce and more efficient production line.

Benefits achieved through the SPRINT project included:

• Validation of technology has enabled introductions to a number of major industrial construction customers – Amey, Errigal Contracts, Siemens Gamesa and Sir Robert McAlpine
• Halved product development lifecycle times
• Created new jobs through employment of SPRINT project engineers
• Introductions to European Space Agency have led to opportunities for space grant application of up to £500,000
• Facilitated technology developments leading to a contract with INEOS Team UK, which was formed to win the America’s Cup sailing trophy

SPRINT brings product to market

Will Woodhead, Managing Director at Mafic Limited said: “As an early stage start-up we had proven the concepts, however we needed to be able to take the technology to customers to pilot. Sprint delivered the expertise to allow us to make this jump”.

“The SPRINT project enabled us to increase the accuracy of our machine learning activity recognition to 90 per cent plus, allowing us to confidently take the product to market. We can build an advanced machine learning architecture to fit onto devices with 5G chips to facilitate real-time, satellite-driven communications.”

Proven technology at customer sites

Will Woodhead continued: “SPRINT has enabled us to realise our technology in a number of different environments by improving the accuracy of our machine learning capability we are now using movement of the head to measure progress to help unlock the mystery around budget and schedule overruns within the construction industry.

“Without SPRINT, we would have had to raise money for extra resources and an equivalent project undertaken in-house would have doubled our time.”

Mafic has implemented the new technology at two key customer sites – Amey, a leading supplier of consulting and infrastructure support services in the UK and internationally at Errigal Contracts, a leading drylining construction company.

James McQuaid – Director – Systems & Productivity at Errgial Contracts added: “Mafic has developed some extremely innovative technology which could dramatically change the way construction projects are project managed in the future. Reducing project uncertainty and improving wellbeing of the workforce will positively impact all aspects of the construction industry. At Errigal, we are very excited to explore how much of a step change this technology can bring.”

Safeguard project to improve safety and productivity

Mafic has now signed up for a second SPRINT project to support the commercialisation of its new, novel Safeguard technology. Mafic will collaborate with the University of Southampton to commercially deploy the new IoT (Internet of Things) systems, improving safety and productivity in traditional industrial construction workplaces.

The second SPRINT project will further develop the innovative wearable Safeguard devices through implementation with workforces, on vehicles and in materials at key customer sites. The devices will determine position, movement and environmental conditions. Machine learning analysis will allow mapping of the users’ exposure to hazards such as slips, trips and falls, high noise levels or exposure to hand-arm vibration.

Hear Will Woodhead from Mafic talk about the new Safeguard product