Tata Steel has rolled out a novel system called Pod that will minimize the number of workers at a given time and place to reduce the risk of infection among them, company officials said here on Tuesday.

This apart, the steel giant has also brought in scientific contact tracing through a ‘Suraksha Card’, CCTVs, drone cameras, crowd sensing (assemblage analysis), face detection and social distancing checks and replacing biometric attendance by thermal scanning and radio frequency identification (RIFD), ending all possible manual touch interactions in its Jamshedpur, Kalinganagr and Angul plants.

“We are first among the corporates to develop and design a novel Pod system in partnership with Boston Consulting Group (BCG). It has been implemented across Jamshedpur, Kalinganagar and Angul. It can be best described as a multilayer protection to break the chain of transmission. These measures are beyond the stipulated SOPs and MHA guidelines, which are, anyway, being strictly followed by the organisation,” Kulvin Suri, Tata Steel chief (corporate communication), said.

As the name suggests, the Pod concept is modularization of the workforce into pods. The idea is to divide the staff seating arrangement into small units, called pods, thereby restricting inter-pod movement. The factory workforce has been divided into hundreds of pods across locations and departments.

“Each pod can have a maximum of 10 workers with a self-contained set of skills so that they do not have to depend on anyone outside their group for closing an assigned job. Additionally, to reduce the risk of contamination across shifts, a 30-minute air gap is maintained between two shifts and it also enables easy and prompt contact tracing,” said Runa Rajeev Kumar, Tata Steel corporate communication head here.

“Fifteen minutes before the shift ends, each work area and tools are sanitised. Exit is only allowed through designated gates. Employees of the next shift enter 15 minutes later through a separate gate and again clean the work area and tools before usage,” she added. Another measure introduced by the company is real-time workforce tracking through ‘Suraksha Card’, a device which can communicate using Long Range Wide Area Network. Its features have been further enhanced to sense (spot and record) a gathering of large group of people in any section of the workplace through the crowd sensing (assemblage analysis) solution and it detects violation of social distancing at shop floors, canteens and on roads inside the factory premises.

With historical data, the Suraksha Card enables scientific contact tracing. Additionally, Suraksha Card bar code scan provides the risk profile of the person with respect to their travel history, contact history or proximity to any Covid patient during the course of work inside the workplace. A centralized portal and a mobile-based app has been developed to monitor the safe working of the workforce .

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