Paving the way for breakthrough worker-centered solutions in electronics and IoT
Working closely with our customers and partners, we at Fischer Connectors strive to be agile and responsive to their emerging needs, designing breakthrough connectivity systems that are easy to use and easy to integrate into their electronic applications.
In partnership with an innovative UK-based connected industrial worker platform supplier – Wearable Technologies Ltd. (WTL) – we’re reimagining connectivity, addressing trends in wearability and Internet of Things (IoT) smart clothing and specifically in IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) applications in various sectors such as oil & gas, construction, utilities and transport.
WTL’s smart clothing application is part of the overall trend to integrate more wearable technology into garments – hence the term “smart” –, simplifying the use of electronic devices and connectivity solutions, while improving human-machine interfaces and ultimately increasing people’s safety and organizations’ efficiency.
The main challenge faced by the connected worker world is that today’s personal sensors devices used by industrial enterprises for measuring elements such as gas, noise or physiology – each with their own power and comms – are large, heavy, complicated and expensive. This limits the widespread adoption of connected worker solutions by industrial enterprises.
WTL and Fischer Connectors have come together to help solve this problem and share the goal of designing cost-effective wearable solutions that are easy to use, enhance safety and truly ease the burden on the end user. By delivering centralized power and comms via plug & use connectors to each of the sensor devices worn by workers on their garment, these devices do not require individually built-in power and comms. The smart garment that serves as a central hub for all these electronic devices makes them less complex, smaller, lighter, and thus cheaper. In turn, this enables each worker to wear more devices and allow more complete monitoring of the environment in which the worker is working.
Fischer Connectors and WTL’s technological partnership started in 2018 around the evolution of the Fischer Freedom™ Series for simplified use in industrial markets. WTL saw an opportunity in the rugged, low-profile, lightweight and versatile Fischer LP360™ connector – the first product in the Series –, as it integrates seamlessly into compact, portable and body-worn devices and ecosystems with low weight requirements.
The Fischer LP360™ connector was chosen specifically for this application because it offers:
- Plug & use capabilities and easy 360-degree mating that make the smart garment’s electronic and communication equipment easy to use, clean and maintain, more ergonomic, more comfortable to wear, and lighter and faster to set up. This enables workers to save time at the beginning of every shift and allows for freedom of movement in the field.
- Easy integration into applications operating in diverse and challenging environments, removing the hassle of cables and streamlining the delivery of power and data through portable and body-worn electronic ecosystems.
- More flexibility allowing weight and space savings. The wired garment works as a hub providing a single and central source of power to a variety of devices, thus reducing the need for multiple batteries and large components.
- Value for money by reducing the design and production cost of wearable devices, using fewer or no cables.
Our technological partnership with WTL combines technical expertise, innovation and experience, as well as the provision of connectivity solutions to reimagine what is considered possible in wearable technologies.
WTL’s unique Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) application integrates Fischer LP360™ 4-pin connectors into an open and evolutive industrial worker platform (called Eleksen™), which interconnects workers wearing a growing range of portable and body-worn communications and sensor devices that can be plugged directly on the worker’s garment. This provides real-time monitoring and analytics that enhance the safety of the specialized workforce in the field.
Several Fischer LP360™ 4-pin connectors from the Fischer Freedom™ Series are integrated into the smart garment of WTL’s Eleksen™ connected worker platform which interconnects workers wearing a range of portable and body-worn communications and sensor devices with their supervisors, site offices and control rooms. The connectivity ecosystem has been integrated in such a way that it makes the entire equipment lighter and faster to set up, reducing clutter and hassle.
The garment has an array of sensors and devices that enable real-time monitoring and data analysis of multiple workers’ health, wellbeing, and exposure to potential hazards, and environmental and situational dangers (such as noise, gas, vibration and dangerous proximity or collision), plus biometric and other inputs. The data is collected centrally and sent to a dashboard which displays data from all specified workers simultaneously and in real time.
The smart worker platform also optimizes the gathering of the data collected on a continuous basis for predictive safety improvements and increased productivity. Once the real-time alert, reporting and compliance data has been swiftly and securely acquired and stored, user organizations can interrogate and analyze it to reveal patterns, trends, causes, and opportunities to drive efficiencies.
The Connectivity Solution
Several Fischer LP360™ 4-pin connectors distribute power and signal, supporting various data busses such as I3C, USB 2.0 and Ethernet. As they have no key code, they enable easy 360° mating. Their IP68 sealing and membrane-sealed contacts allow easy cleaning. Thanks to their low profile, they are built into the garments to create a hub with multiple devices connected to a shared data and power bus.
This bus eliminates the need for external wires or break-out cables. The ecosystem configuration of the connector receptacles and plugs is as follows:
- The connector receptacles sewn into the vest and attached to the bus connect to devices and deliver power and signal. All the attached sensor devices are supplied comms and power from a single battery pack.
- The enterprise or worker decides for each shift which plugs in sensor devices, flashlights, cameras, and other essentials for safety and communications are attached to the bus, through the worker’s smart garment with matching plugs built directly into the device without the use of cables.
View the demo of WTL’s smart worker solution in this video with WTL’s CEO Mark Bernstein on Fischer Connectors’ booth at Electronica 2018.
Thanks to the usability, integrability and versatility of Fischer Connectors’ solution, WTL’s unique IIoT system benefits:
- workers using its smart vest and connected platform by protecting their health and safety and allowing them greater freedom of movement;
- design engineers by simplifying and speeding up the design and production of wearables;
- organizations, as they can gain deep insight into longer term workforce occupational health and safety issues, identify training requirements, increase productivity and reduce corporate risk.
This project shows how, by working closely with its partners to find new connectivity solutions, Fischer Connectors is opening up exciting new opportunities in IoT and IIoT applications for its customers in a wide range of sectors, including the medical and the defense & security sectors.
Together with Wearable Technologies Ltd., we’re creating human-centered next-generation ecosystems that will shape the future of electronics.