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EV Infrastructure is the future of automotive construction. When safety measures are critical to meet project deadlines, two Detroit powerhouses aimed to support workers through innovation. Walbridge Construction and GM teamed with Kwant AI to improve productivity and safety through smart wearable technology that aggregated data for strategic planning.

“They provided a solution that not only improved safety & peace of mind amongst the workers in Detroit but would lay the groundwork for never before seen ways for Walridge and GM to stay ahead of the competition.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic shook the globe, Walbridge & GM reacted immediately. Knowing they had to protect their workers, they launched into action and found Kwant ai. Kwant ai helped find a solution to improve safety & peace of mind amongst the workers in Detroit. also helping lay the groundwork for new ways for Wallbridge and GM to stay ahead of the competition.

The Challenge

In March 2020, General Motors & Walbridge Construction had the same challenge most companies were facing: keeping their sites up & running while keeping workers as safe as possible during the rise and chaos of the pandemic

Many workers on the Detroit sites make a living off the hours of labor they put in. Shutting down a job site could be catastrophic to some. To support their workers and families, it was the duty of the Walbridge & GM leaders to keep sites running, while doing everything in their power to protect them.

“It was personal,” stated John Sullivan, Director of Safety at Walbridge when asked about life in the early stages of the pandemic. “My son was born on April 6. He was one day old, and I got a call from our on-site medic saying "hey we think you may have been a direct contact.”

While Sullivan was fortunate to know exactly who he’d been near, that made his next steps clear: they needed a specialized response….fast. Director of Safety Derrick Hinton set the scene. “First COVID case we had on-site, initially identified 10 people as close contacts. Once word got around, 30 individuals walked off the site to get tested”

Both teams saw potential beyond COVID-19 in ways that this technology could be used to make the site safer than ever.

The Impacts

Business Continuity

“There are direct costs and there are indirect costs. $300,000 to shut the job down for the rest of the day. If there’s a safety incident- that’s a lot of money." - John Jurewicz - Walbridge’s Director of Innovation

A Trusted Partner

“We had to have badges and devices that were readily available. We know that in the COVID market, suppliers from Asia became difficult. We needed something that was faster locally sourced, which Kwant was willing to do, and really worked with us on.” - John Jurewicz

Kwant ai helped Walbridge set up the job within hours. Kwant ai used a Lorawan network to cover the expansive area required, and by being involved & flexible.

“$300,000 to shut the job down for the rest of the day. If there’s a safety incident – that’s a lot of money.”

The Solutions

Within 10 seconds, a worker will receive an alert that they’re walking in an area that could cause them harm.

Implementing new technology

Kwant ai helped distribute smart badges to every worker on the W/GM sites. These badges, despite being lightweight & wearable are packed with cool technology.

First, the badges - equipped with BLE & LORA technology - communicated their location with other badges. That means the badges “know” how far apart they are from their fellow badges. Kwant translates this data into an easy-to-read report.

Walbridge knows exactly who was near who (and for how long) if someone contracts the COVID-19 virus. Within less than 1 minute, can filter out what individuals are at the highest risk of contracting the virus, and can send them to notice to exit the site, quarantine, or request testing.

Hinton continues, “ instead of us sending 5 individuals home to go get tested, to quarantine for the 14 days… we had an individual test positive and saw he had one close contact. Employees were still safe, continuing to work, the process didn’t shut down, and it was a good thing.”

Kwant ai isn’t just about quick solutions. Having a proactive approach to solutions and not just reactive is critical. The smart badges are equipped with buzzers, so workers who aren’t assigned to the same team are alerted if they come within the CDC recommended 6-feet of another individual. It provided a good reminder to stay the required distance for contact tracing.

The Power of IoT and Predictive Analytics

The smart badges by Kwant ai is much more than just a badge. The smart badges help communicate information with strategically placed sensors around the sites. These sensors give the viewer a “heat map” of where trades are on site. Kwant ai’s analytics platform allows for certain sensors to be marked as “unsafe zones,” meaning if someone wearing a Kwant smart badge and walks into that area, an immediate notification can be sent to that worker, letting them know of the danger.

Restricted Zones

Kwant ai got to work in developing a smart badge with a 10 sec response time. The fastest on the market. Within 10 seconds, a worker will receive an alert that they’re walking in an area that could cause them harm.

SOS Alerts & Fall Detection

Each smart badge is equipped with emergency response functions to allow workers to communicate if they experience a dangerous situation.

“SOS Alert” buttons are on every smart badge - one double-tap on the button sends a message to the safety leads on the job site, along with the name of the worker, the location of the incident, and the time it took place. It notifies 92% faster than a phone call or going to manually locate someone.

Since Walbridge has a buddy system in place, it keeps people together in the event of an emergency. Having the information (proof of incident, name, location, time), can be a huge help when reporting the incidents later in the day.

The documentation is there for potential future claims and litigation and can aid workers in ensuring they receive adequate compensation for any incidents.

Sullivan also noted that the communication these smart badges possessed could be used beyond social distancing and restricted area alerts. He pushed the Kwant ai’s team to provide greater access to messaging & other features. They worked together to create a mass alert systems.

He now could message specific people on site or the teams at large- alerting them if the lightning has been detected or if evacuation is required. No more worrying if messages would reach those they needed to through the grapevine. Sullivan now has a direct communication line to all those he works to protect.

Jurewicz & Sullivan didn’t want to stop at safety, they recognized that Kwant ai could help them with many other headaches that come with projects.

Asset Tracking

GM & Walbridge have learned throughout their rich histories that there is always an answer. There is always a solution. Through an impressively thorough research process, they found the solution that worked for them. Not just for COVID-19, but for their efforts beyond. By restricting high risk areas, and automating the check in process, they’re continuing to improve the safety of their teams and put their workers above all else

Kwant & Walbridge are in the final stages of deploying a solution titled “Find my Forklift” No additional hardware is required!

Now, Walbridge can view exactly where certain assets are on a full x/y/z axis of the site. Assets are tagged with badges and appear on the floor plans shown in the Kwant system.

Pair these with GPS-enabled tags for larger pieces of equipment outside the sensors on-site, and you’ve got yourself a searchable database for where your things are. Imagine how much easier life would be if you could just type “where are my keys'' into the search bar!

The Asset Tags are equipped with accelerometers, so Walbridge is even able to detect if the equipment has been turned on, and the duration of its use. This has proven incredibly effective in managing expensive equipment & determining where or not certain items are required on specific sites.

Learn more about Kwant ai’s smart badges & analytics platform.


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