In manufacturing, “efficiency” is key. It is one of those buzzwords that grabs people’s attention and holds their interest. However, efficiency on the plant floor isn’t just a result of all the production lines and industrial equipment working as it should. While plants remain predominantly run by human workers, there remains a human factor to consider when trying to achieve maximum efficiency. And that’s the inherent unpredictability in humans.
With that human factor comes a few side effects — like getting tired. Everyone has been there — eye lids drooping, blinks getting longer, the mind starting to get foggy and that overwhelming feeling of exhaustion. But for many this feeling might not come from your average night of restless sleep, it could be the result of an undiagnosed sleep disorder that could be very harmful to your health and your work.
“Sleep disorders rob you of some very essential abilities,” says Dr. Jeffrey Durmer, the Co-Founder and Chief Medical officer of Fusion Health. “Sleep disorders first erode the most important part of your ability to be productive — which is your awareness, your creativity, your ability to judge things properly and to make decisions on the fly. And they are largely undiagnosed and very common.”
For example, sleep apnea — one of the more common sleep disorders — effects approximately a quarter of U.S. adults to varying degrees. Another important statistic to consider is that 80 percent of people are unaware of an existing sleep disorder. These can create a significant problem in the workforce, specifically in manufacturing as they can cause downtime, accidents and unplanned sick leave.
“People that are working on a production line manufacturing goods or services need to be acute,” says John Letter, president and chief operating officer at Fusion Health. “They need to be prepared, because there are safety risks when someone gets things wrong.”
Just as technology has been able to provide solutions for mechanical issues on the plant floor, it has provided the tools to help solve sleep problems in workers. Fusion Health has created an online platform that evaluates workers and proactively drives successful sleep therapy. The program has the ability to take a population health view of an employee base, and identify who needs further treatment for sleep disorders.
“Analyzing your human factor pool and your work force is really the missing link right now and the fatigue is the major issue in these populations,” explains Dr. Durmer. “We aren’t robots, we aren’t machines. There is a rest cycle that every human has to go through to perform optimally and 25 percent of them, at a minimum, are actually having trouble with a sleep disorder.”
After “at risk” workers are identified, Fusion Health can then provide crucial treatments all online. According to Letter, “the technology is enabling sleep coaches to effectively manage people, with over 90 percent daily successful adherence to therapy.”
Use of the new health platform can almost be viewed as preventive maintenance within the workforce. “It is our ability to make sure that people are best prepared for work, just as a manufacturing line is at its best when it has been maintenance,” explains Letter.
A well-rested workforce is often more engaged, safer, more efficient and innovative. So next time, when evaluating how to improve the environment and efficiency on the plant floor, the answer might not lie in the obvious location, it could be something common but often forgotten — sleep.