Improving workforce safety on industrial sites with IoT

Safety first with Internet of Things technologies at the OCP Group

NIL helped the OCP Group, a leading global chemical and mining company, establish a cost-effective and reliable solution based on IoT sensors to improve personnel safety at their industrial sites.

The OCP Group was established in 1920 in Morocco and is currently one of the leading exporters of phosphate rock, phosphoric acid, and phosphate fertilizers in the world. The Group has subsidiaries and sites across countries in Africa, the Americas, Europe, and Asia, and generates a yearly revenue of over €4 billion.

For OCP, providing, maintaining, and improving the work conditions and safety of their over 21,000 strong workforce is a key priority. This is a challenging and never-ending task, as the work processes on industrial sites by their nature involve exposure to potential risks. In addition, the complexity of the sites, and various environmental and other external factors make it impossible to predict and eliminate every risky circumstance.

Internet-of-Things (IoT) solutions are becoming more reliable, robust, affordable, and easier to deploy, so they can significantly reduce health-related risks and improve safety for the personnel working at industrial sites. IoT-based monitoring and warning systems can help organizations react faster in case of incidents or even prevent them. This can truly save lives.

How can you prevent incidents in high-risk work areas?

The OCP Group operates a number of industrial sites where, in case of an environment-related incident (e.g. fire, explosions, gas-related incidents), their staff members’ health or life can be jeopardized. Detecting or even predicting an incident would enable OCP to establish safer work conditions and reduce risks for their workers.

OCP is, therefore, constantly improving their safety measures and a part of these efforts involves testing IoT-based safety solutions. Therefore, to see what IoT solutions can deliver and how much they can contribute to improving the safety on sites, OCP Group decided to deploy and test a Common-off-the-shelf (COTS) IoT sensor solution with associated networking infrastructure. This proof-of-concept IoT sensor network solution consisted of the following elements:

  • LoRaWAN sensor network that can span the OCP Group’s industrial sites with both outdoor and possible indoor LoRaWAN connectivity
  • Various sensors, mostly related to atmospheric measurement and locating assets
  • A backend service that collects data (network server and consumer services) and enables various actions based on received environmental data (alerting, visualizations).

“There is no perfect safety, but we want to be as close to it as possible. That is why we constantly test and evaluate different methods, technologies, and approaches that could mean a step forward as well as implement the efficient ones. IoT promises a lot and I am excited to see the result of this proof-of-concept solution that we implemented together with NIL. I am very satisfied with their proposed solution architecture, quality of their services, and overall attitude throughout the engagement.”
Abdeslam El Gonnouni, Networks and Telecommunications Manager, OCP Group

The solution provides them with an excellent combination of site coverage and reliability at optimal costs and it is considered as a one of the potential improvements of their safety measures. Over time, the OCP Group will be able to precisely evaluate what this next-generation environmental monitoring system with integrated alerting and evacuation capabilities can deliver and how much it improves the safety of the sites. As a result, the findings will help them make an informed decision about their future safety strategy as well as enable them better planning both from the costs and implementation perspective.

NIL was able to cover all the technical aspects of the solution

NIL specializes in the integration and software-development of IoT (LoRaWAN) solutions, providing both the air-side (LoRaWAN) and the backend software integration with various enterprise systems and applications. The OCP Group chose NIL as a partner in this project because of our unique combination of network infrastructure, wireless, sensor, and software-development expertise. This allowed us to quickly develop a custom solution for their highly demanding environment. For this proof-of-concept project, we delivered the following services and technological solutions:

  • A test site LoRaWAN network with appropriate gateways and infrastructure integration
  • Custom integration between the Actility network server and application that enables further data gathering, visualization, and response.