SolarCity: Riverbend Gigafactory
Stakeholders & Mentions: Heads Up Display Inc., Ceres Technologies, StartUp NY, City of Buffalo, Buffalo Billion Initiative, Total Facility Solutions, SolarCity, LP Ciminelli, Arrow Electronics.
In October of 2015, the Heads Up Safe system was launched at the SolarCity Gigafactory construction site at Riverbend, 1339 South Park Avenue, Buffalo, NY. Heads Up Display’s CEO and Co-founder, Brendon Dever, was contracted as Program Manager to lead the bid, manufacturing, and installation of the specialty gas system to be used in the solar panel manufacturing process at the Gigafactory. As a result, Dever was provided an opportunity to test the impact the Heads Up Safe system would have on high-tech manufacturing construction within large teams of 50+ mechanical contractors.
In conjunction with Ceres Technologies, the turnkey gas equipment supplier for SolarCity, the opportunity was awarded to Total Facility Solutions, the equipment-installing mechanical contractor, as well as LP Ciminelli, general contractor for the Buffalo Billion construction site at Riverbend. Bringing it full circle, Heads Up Display Inc., was one of the first companies to enter into the StartUp NY program.
Heads Up Safe is a wearable communication platform comprised of a bluetooth-connected smart LED indicator that acts as an accessory to any existing eye protection, face shield, or hard hat. Users are trained to interpret simple light patterns–much like a traffic light–as safety protocols and notifications of onsite communication. Additionally, the Heads Up Safe wearable device has sensors onboard allowing it to continuously monitor a user’s immediate area for hazardous environmental conditions.
It is well known that there are many hazards within heavy industry that are difficult to monitor–hazardous noise levels, chemical vapor, energy, gasses, etc–and modern commercial solutions to these hazards have been limited. Of those hazards, occupational noise induced hearing loss is the most prevalent industrial disease worldwide. With this in mind, Heads Up Display Inc., developed a real-time industrial hygiene monitoring system. The Heads Up Safe wearable noise indicator provides the operator green light notifications when exposed to acoustically hazardous environments, prompting the operator to utilize hearing protection. "I never knew that this cutting-tool was damaging my hearing, I’ll always wear my earplugs when I use it now." – Total Facility Solutions Employee & Heads Up Safe Beta Tester
Within Heads Up Safe the time, date, and location of hazardous environmental conditions are recorded and analyzed, providing safety supervisors with real-time job-site conditions. As a result, safety supervisors are able to better equip their operators with condition-tailored personal protective equipment needed to maintain quality of life. "Heads Up Safe provides our men and women an awareness of onsite hazards. The ability to know when sound levels are dangerous allows us to know when, where, and which hearing protection devices to provide our employees." – TFS Safety Manager
Early in Heads Up Safe’s development cycle Brendon solicited the expertise of Frank Ciminielli, President of LP Ciminelli. Frank identified communication issues facing early stage super construction; "I lose sleep thinking about the men and women 30 to 100 ft. up on steel beams. There is no effective way to warn them during building construction." – Ciminelli Executive
When paired with the Heads Up Safe mobile application, operators have the ability to send notifications of text messages and incoming calls to team members. The Heads Up Safe wearable indicator blinks red when the message is urgent–typically an emergency–and requires an operator’s immediate attention. Blue lights indicate communication from someone on the team, allowing operators to differentiate work-related communication from personal communication, increasing safety and efficiency. Riverbend, like all heavy industrial sites, is a very challenging environment for communication and the ideal place to test the Heads Up Safe wearable communication system; there have been thousands of individuals on site daily, covering an area well over 1.2 million square feet. "It is often very difficult to locate or communicate with team members using standard radio, phone calls, or text messages. Heads Up ensures that critical information is always in the peripheral field of view." – Total Facility Solutions Project Manager
"Our people know when to check their phone and when to keep focused on the task at hand. With all of the push notifications and distractions from smartphones today, this system has the potential of saving significant man hours and impacting our bottom line." – Total Facility Solutions Executive
Over the last 9 months the Heads Up Safe wearable communication system has been strenuously tested under ever-changing construction-site conditions. Heads Up has been shown to withstand the stresses common within construction environments and their cultures. "We have understood since its inception that the Heads Up system would need to pass rigorous amounts of stress. We have spent 3 years designing a system that achieves that." – Dever
Using the data from its Beta trial at the SolarCity Riverbend construction site. Heads Up is now creating an analytics platform that allows industrial organizations to utilize the data from individual exposure events in order to reduce workers compensation insurance costs.
"Our goal is to create a new marketplace and awareness of the need for intelligent and connected safety equipment." – Ralph Lewis, CTO, Heads Up Display Inc.
Heads Up Safe is now available for sale to the masses. "We have been working diligently to scale the manufacturing process with our Partners at Arrow Electronics. As a result we are proud to announce that our designers and suppliers have achieved a circuit design that produced 100% yield during scaled assembly. We stand ready to protect workers across many industries no matter where they are located, which languages they speak, or how harsh their environment." – Brian B., Lead Hardware Engineer, Heads Up Display Inc.