How Modern Tech Enhances Accessibility and Operational Efficiency in Labor-Based Industries

Labor-based industries

Throughout its history, technology has played a key role in labor-based sectors. The development of greater tools made more complex projects and operations more practical. The Industrial Revolution introduced cost and time-saving tech to businesses. It should come as no surprise, then, that the recent advances in technology have significantly impacted industries that are labor-intensive.

This current crop of tech tools is proving to be revolutionary in their ability to support labor-based industries in ways that are mutually beneficial to workers and business owners. Some tools boost operational efficiency. Others bolster the accessibility of roles, meaning more diverse talent can engage with businesses. It’s worth taking a moment to explore some of the tools that are making these advances possible.

Wearable Devices and Exoskeletons

Labor-based industries are dependent on the physical activity of the workforce. In previous decades, this would often place restrictions on who is able to engage with careers in this field. However, recent advances in the fields of exoskeletons and wearable devices are starting to break down the barriers.

Firstly, there has been a greater development of smart wearables specifically for labor-based industries. For instance, smart helmets equipped with cameras, audio equipment, and visual interfaces are now available for construction and other hazardous projects. These tools help boost operational efficiency by optimizing communications between project managers and workers during difficult tasks.

Employees can discuss instructions, get safety recommendations, and even gain ergonomic advice via their headsets. There’s also scope for augmented reality (AR) schematics to be relayed directly to visors. These elements minimize the potential for errors by offering greater task clarity. They also help accessibility by supporting workers with a wider range of working needs, such as those who find it difficult to rely on purely spoken instructions.

Additionally, exoskeletons — robotic structures that can be worn by employees — are enhancing the physical capabilities of workers. Some are designed to reduce strain on the arms or back by performing the majority of exertion. This both mitigates repetitive injuries and makes physical roles more accessible for those susceptible to such conditions.

The Internet of Things

The growing wave of digitalization is considered vital for greater equality in the workplace. Tools such as AR and wireless tech are supporting greater access to education and training. Not to mention that remote working platforms are minimizing the necessity to operate in traditional workspaces. In labor-based industries, some of the most important tools for this digital equality — alongside optimizing tasks — are those in the Internet of Things (IoT).

In essence, the IoT is an ecosystem of connected digital objects. Some of these are passive in nature, collecting a range of data automatically. Others collaborate more actively with systems and workers. The combination of these devices results tends to be holistically beneficial to operations and employees. 

In terms of accessibility, the IoT is particularly effective in empowering workers who may live with disabilities or other restrictions on mobility. For instance, the combination of remote drones, sensors, and wireless control systems means that professional risk assessors or project managers don’t have to physically visit hazardous or difficult-to-navigate areas. The maneuverability of drones, standard 4K quality of videos, and the accuracy of sensor data are such that employees can apply their skills and knowledge from wherever they’re most comfortable. 

From an efficiency standpoint, IoT-enabled systems can be key to effectively streamlining processes and minimizing the potential disruptions. Sensors integrated into machinery can connect to networks and diagnostic software. This enables the software to monitor the condition and functioning of equipment and make predictions about upgrades, repairs, and adjustments, and ultimately allows machines to be the best possible collaborators with human professionals in labor-based industries.

Artificial Intelligence-Driven Systems

Over the past few years, the 4th industrial revolution has improved operational efficiency in warehouses and other labor-based sectors. Cloud-based inventory management systems offer real-time insights into item data, functioning alongside automated tools to place orders and identify points of loss. Portable devices support faster and more accurate picking processes and shipment labeling. However, one of the most important pieces of industry 4.0 tech at the moment is artificial intelligence (AI).  

Firstly, AI software systems can be instrumental in streamlining workplace processes. In some organizations, AI is directly operating robotic machinery. However, managers can also provide AI software with data such as internal working practices, employee activities, targets, risk factors, and wider industry practices. Machine learning algorithms are then able to analyze the data and make recommendations on how to best optimize operations. Importantly, by regularly feeding these tools with the most current data, AI software can offer predictions, recommendations, and insights so businesses can make real-time efficiency adjustments.

In addition, AI can be an important tool in accessible and efficient hiring processes for labor-based industries. AI hiring platforms can utilize data-driven algorithms to filter resumes, identify the most suitable candidates, and even perform initial pre-interview and onboarding processes. This can reduce the amount of time spent on hiring by managers and human resources (HR) personnel. Importantly, when provided with data regarding the company’s requirement for cultural, educational, and socioeconomic diversity, AI platforms may be less swayed by the unconscious biases of human recruiters. This can make roles more accessible to a wider range of talent.


A growing range of technological tools are boosting efficiency and accessibility in labor-based industries. Exoskeletons and wearable devices minimize the potential for injuries while also optimizing workers’ performance. The IoT provides more varied training and operational practices to suit a wider range of contributors, while also providing efficiency insights to managers. In addition, the growth of the AI ecosystem uses data to help streamline workplace practices and help HR personnel identify ideal candidates without the interference of unconscious biases.

Nevertheless, it’s important to consider that these tools alone won’t solve all efficiency or accessibility issues. Your human contributors also provide creative ideas, personal insights, and professional experience that machines are unlikely to have. As a result, it’s important to also seek the input of workers both for their ideas on how to make the workplace more accessible and to ensure they’re efficient collaborators with this advanced tech.

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Article Author Details

Charlie Fletcher

Charlie Fletcher is a freelance writer living in the pacific northwest who has a variety of interests including sociology, politics, business, education, health, and more.