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UN International Day of Older Persons

As retirement age steadily rises, it is crucial to create better working conditions for older employees. This is why we support the EU sustAGE project.

Frank Werner Frank Werner

People are living longer worldwide; over the next three decades, the number of older persons is expected to rise precipitously – along with the number of people over the age of 55 in employment.

As the retirement age steadily rises, it is important to create better working conditions for older employees. Today, on United Nations International Day of Older Persons, I wanted to talk about an important initiative we at Software are supporting.

The sustAGE EU project, supported by our research team, is working with 10 European partners to help companies in labor-intensive industries make daily working life easier for older employees.

Let me tell you a story

Antonio is 61 years old and works on the assembly line at FIAT. He has been diagnosed with high blood pressure and chronic stress. He often suffers from pain in his shoulder, but he performs many demanding manual tasks despite this fact. As a result, he is undergoing regular medical treatment and has already had several rehab stays. Since his current pension entitlement is insufficient due to his ongoing housing loan, he must work until retirement age.

FIAT, as his employer, thus incurs additional costs: During his illness-related absences, the automobile company must continue to pay him and must temporarily assign his position to another employee.

This happens in many companies. sustAGE is designed to help make Antonio’s job easier, making it possible for him to stay at work. sustAGE is a research project of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation program. It will run for three years in cooperation with the application partners FIAT (CRF Research) and the Heraklion Port Authority (HPA), as well as Software AG, research institutes and universities.

How does sustAGE work?

Based on shift plans, the sustAGE system determines that, on his current shift, Antonio has been carrying out the same activity on the assembly line for a long period of time. His known shoulder condition and the monotonously recurring processes are tiring for Antonio and cause him stress. The sustAGE system recognizes this and sends a message to Antonio’s smartphone telling him to take a break.

The shift supervisor also receives a notification letting him know that Antonio’s position on the assembly line must soon be reassigned. In order to avoid further health complications, Antonio is assigned a different task after his break. The system then sends the new assignment to Antonio’s smartphone, together with further helpful information about the new task. And sustAGE can do even more: The room is too hot and Antonio’s vital signs are being captured by sensors. Early indications of elevated blood pressure are identified and sent to the shift supervisor, with a recommendation to assign Antonio a less difficult task in a cooler room.

IoT monitors conditions, health

IoT sensor data from all tasks and activities, plus the employees’ mood and well-being, is monitored – naturally in strict compliance with data confidentiality. The data is collected with the aid of smart wearables and via sensors installed in the workplace. Software AG’s Apama, Universal Messaging and Zementis, as part of the Cumulocity IoT platform, collect and aggregate data and apply machine learning to generate recommendations to employees. Collected historical data and data analysis are used to train prediction models that enable forecasting with a high degree of precision and probability.

A win-win situation

The ultimate advantages of sustAGE for the employee are obvious: Dangerous situations are identified and can be prevented, and the risk of workplace accidents declines. Moreover, the employee receives continuous feedback on the state of his health, meaning that illnesses can be identified and treated early on.

But there are also advantages for the employer when employees use the sustAGE platform. If employees experience less stress and overwork, their motivation and productivity increase. If employees are healthier, costs go down, since there are fewer days of sick leave and employees can remain in their jobs longer.

The objective is to actively integrate workers like Antonio into the company as they approach retirement age and to optimally tailor the workplace to the employees. Older employees are supported, and their physical and mental competencies are maintained at a high level through physical and cognitive training. And when workplace safety is ensured, and the company manages human resources effectively, illness-related absences and costs decline and efficiency increases.

Software AG is proud to be involved with such a worthy project, and we are happy to say that it helps contribute to the UN’s sustainability goal: Decent work and economic growth.

Happy International Day of Older Persons!

See more about what Software AG is doing to help customers optimize their sustainable use of resources by clicking below.