Assembly supplier for Ford, GM, Toyota, and Honda reduces ergonomic risks and drops forklift safety incidents by 86% in 3 months.
Piston Automotive, founded by NBA legend Vinnie Johnson, is a trailblazer in safety innovation within the vehicle manufacturing industry. Piston is a leading assembler of complex modules for automotive interior, exterior, electrification, powertrain, and chassis, for Ford, Toyota, Honda, and General Motors. The Redford, Michigan-based company boasts strategic proximity to the nation’s major automotive manufacturing centers, with revenue exceeding $2 billion and a workforce of more than 1,000 employees.
Automotive manufacturing is a high-risk industry laden with injury hazards, such as slips and falls, repetitive motion injuries, and accidents involving heavy machinery. With its commitment to continuous improvement and staying at the cutting edge of process engineering, Piston Automotive aims to mitigate these risks and increase workplace safety.
Frank Pochik, Piston Automotive’s head of safety, is a forward-thinking safety leader who recognized the potential of artificial intelligence to transform Piston Automotive's safety and operations. Frank’s commitment to continuous improvement led him to Voxel's AI-powered site visibility platform as a potential solution for reducing workplace injuries.
Voxel's platform leverages existing security cameras in the factory to generate real-time insights about workplace risks and operations. Voxel can instantly recognize common safety risks and operational problems in a wide range of industrial environments, including warehouses, factories, and retail stores.
As a pilot location, Piston selected their Marion, Ohio facility, a brake assembly supplier to Honda of America Manufacturing. By incorporating Voxel's AI-powered site visibility platform, Piston Automotive demonstrates its dedication to employee safety and operational efficiency, setting a new standard for safety innovation in the vehicle manufacturing industry.
86% Drop in Vehicle Safety Incidents
Voxel's site visibility platform has proven instrumental in promoting workplace safety at Piston's Marion facility. By generating videos that enable team leaders to coach and periodically retrain their drivers on vehicle safety protocols, Voxel's technology facilitates one of the most effective safety training methods: video-based coaching. Research indicates that this approach increases engagement and provides workers with a real-life context to understand risks and evaluate their own performance. This process, akin to a basketball team reviewing game film, fosters team building and collaboration while refining work processes.
Leveraging Voxel’s incident data analytics, Piston’s safety leadership identified key areas for improving vehicle safety. With diligent video-based coaching, they achieved an impressive 86% reduction in vehicle safety incidents in under four months. In December 2022, the Marion factory recorded five 'No Stop at End-of-Aisle' incidents per day. By March 2023, the number of daily incidents plummeted to less than one (0.4 incidents/day). This remarkable improvement highlights the effectiveness of Voxel's AI-powered platform and Piston's commitment to creating a safer work environment for its employees.
"We've seen significant reduction in near misses. Unless you have round-the-clock visibility, you don't even know these issues are happening. We've used Voxel as a coaching tool and slowly but surely changed our culture around safety. We've made significant changes around our operations, equipment, and lines. Observing day-to-day, we didn't know our materials handlers' utilization was about 60%. So we were able to add more workload including housekeeping, and the plant looks a lot cleaner because we identified this unintended downtime."
Piston Automotive plant manager
Pioneering Machine Safety Solutions with AI
In addition to improving vehicle safety, Piston Automotive has also made strides in pioneering machine safety solutions with the help of artificial intelligence. One such issue they encountered at the Marion factory involved employees walking on rollers, which posed a significant risk of slip-and-fall injuries. Rollers are cylindrical components used in conveyor systems to transport various parts and assemblies throughout the production process. These rollers are designed to facilitate smooth and efficient movement of items but are not intended for pedestrian use.
In response to this problem, Piston Automotive employed Voxel's AI-powered platform to flag the roller area as a 'No Pedestrian Zone'. This proactive approach enabled the company to monitor when and why workers entered this area, helping them to design safer work processes and prevent potential injuries.
"Coaching from this standpoint has really helped. There's some things that happen on the shop floor that are caused by carelessness. And just being able to capture these things has helped us change the behavior, intended or unintended. Just using this tool as a coaching tool, we've seen some improvement. Now associates are out there and looking at what somebody's doing wrong. So they're calling each other out, they're helping to drive that safety culture around throughout the plant."
Piston Automotive plant manager
Innovation in Computer Vision: Bulldozing
Piston Automotive sought to develop new incident detection algorithms for unique challenges within their factory environments. One such issue was 'bulldozing' incidents, a common forklift safety problem where a forklift pushes two or more pallets simultaneously.
Although this shortcut tactic might seem harmless, it can lead to serious injuries or even fatalities due to decreased visibility for the forklift operator or an employee being struck by the forklift. To address this problem, Piston worked with Voxel to develop a 'bulldozing' or 'pushing pallets' detection model, effectively preventing incidents involving obstructed line-of-sight for drivers.
Voxel is a generalized artificial intelligence, allowing custom use cases developed at a single facility to be immediately available to all of Voxel’s customers. As 'bulldozing' pallets is a prevalent issue at logistics and warehousing facilities worldwide, Voxel's AI can instantly add value to its entire network by utilizing the training data on powered vehicle safety collected at Piston Automotive.
"At first, there were material handlers, saying: ‘I know my job, I know what I'm doing’ So our point was: Hey, this is about safety. It's not about you, it's about safety for the whole plant. We are going to be watching what you are doing, we want to make sure you're doing it in a safe manner. So there was pushback initially, but individuals are now starting to embrace it. You know, it's created that awareness of, ‘Hey, what I'm doing is being watched. If it's wrong, then I might as well just change my behavior.’ So that's what we've seen here at Marion."
Piston Automotive plant manager
Voxel is enthusiastic about partnering with industry leaders like Piston, whose knowledge and expertise contribute to making AI-powered site visibility a global standard for industrial safety and operations. This collaboration demonstrates the powerful potential of computer vision models to revolutionize safety standards in the automotive manufacturing industry and beyond.
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