Tag! You're safe.

Why tagging your workforce could save money and lives


When an industrial plant shuts down for routine maintenance, it can be a complex and potentially dangerous production thanks to chemicals, combustible materials and hazardous gases. The tasks involved in even the most routine maintenance shutdowns aren’t part of day-to-day operations, and industrial companies often rely heavily on outside contractors—who may be specialists in overhauls but aren’t necessarily well-versed with a particular plant or its layout.

Known as turnarounds, these shutdowns can come at a high cost. Not only is the safety of workers often at risk, the events can easily run over schedule and over budget—costing a plant anywhere from $80 million to $300 million and often accumulating about 20 percent in overtime.

But technology is changing the way turnarounds are handled, empowering people to make better decisions in complex environments. Managers can now keep track of workers in real time, both for optimal safety and higher productivity.

Enter Digital Turnaround—a mix of wireless, wearables, cloud, analytics and mobile apps that has the potential to revolutionize industrial manufacturing as we know it.

"There’s a cultural transformation underway to bring the kind of connected experiences we have in the outside world and home to the industrial workplace. With pervasive wireless and solutions like that, you start to really build all those personalized experiences for the employee."

Managing Director, Global Refining and Chemicals Services Lead


Here's how Digital Turnaround works: A factory or plant is embedded with pervasive wireless so that every inch is connected. Workers are then outfitted with RFID tags so they’re tracked at all times. Location data constantly streams to a cloud-based system, allowing managers to make smarter decisions, such as giving employees a rest when they might be showing signs of fatigue, sending in immediate support to a worker in trouble or reassigning a team who has finished a job early.

Pioneered by Accenture, Digital Turnaround is part of a larger vision of the future, called Industry X.0.

Essentially a digital reinvention of the industrial workplace, Industry X.0 deploys smart machines and devices, collectively known as the Internet of Things (IoT), to monitor and share data on every aspect of production in real time, including the live capture and transmission of employee location and biometrics. Workers stay constantly connected no matter where they are on-site, and managers use data to learn and adapt instantly to changing conditions. Overall working conditions, safety, efficiency and productivity can improve dramatically.


Adam sees a mechanical fault in a zone next to him from sensors that sent the information to the plant's cloud. He finds the best person for the job from RFID signals that tell him who’s working where in the plant.


People-tracking can raise challenges. Chief among them are privacy concerns that companies might either share the data they gather on employee work habits without permission or use the records to evaluate performance. But companies can win workers' trust by making the data they collect visible to the individuals concerned and deleting the records regularly.

Workforce analytics come with their own set of trust issues, but many experts say the opportunities ultimately outweigh the risks. The consistent lessons from the data can have a transformative effect on a business’s operations.


Matthew logs into his company project management software. He sees a 15 percent rise in productivity after the plant's digitally-enabled turnaround that was completed on-schedule and under budget.


Productivity and safety challenges often go hand in hand during a turnaround. With the right solutions in place, however, managers can mitigate the risks of a maintenance shutdown.

Factories that have applied Accenture’s Digital Turnaround have seen productivity boosts as high as 15 percent during shutdowns. John Shoemaker, a consultant on industrial wireless solutions for the past 25 years, said RFID tracking saves the time spent on safety drills that plants routinely engage in before shutdowns “by two-thirds or more.”

One energy company, for instance, applied digital technologies used in Digital Turnarounds to its day-to-day operations, using RFID tracking to keep workers safe and improve productivity year-round at one of its gas refineries.

Another company used Accenture's Digital Turnaround solution during a planned plant shutdown to improve safety. With thousands of contractors at the plant daily during the shutdown, the company monitored those at risk for fatigue to limit the likelihood of accidents. On a more granular level, it tracked the time contractors spent in active work areas compared to so-called non-productive zones and how long they spent doing physical tasks versus administrative work.

In the new age of intelligence, technology can empower humans to make better, smarter decisions. Connected plants can create safer environments for workers and a more efficient production for executives and shareholders long after a turnaround ends. Learn more about the transformational power of digital and Industry X.0, and discover how you can optimize your operations here.


Rachel hears an alarm telling her to evacuate her area. Even if she’s trapped, she’ll be found and rescued in minutes from the RFID tag that beams her location to emergency responders.


Tracey Countryman

Managing Director, Global Refining
and Chemicals Services Lead

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