Waters Uses Kinexon and AWS IoT Solutions to Keep 100% of Its Essential Sites Running During a Pandemic

Executive Summary

Because Waters Corporation (Waters) provides products used in drug discovery, pharmaceutical development, food and water safety, and more, it is an essential business. In 2020, Waters had a dual challenge: keeping 1,700 workers at 19 global sites safe from COVID-19 and delivering critical products to customers. Taking a page from the NBA’s and NFL's books, Waters used a device made by German technology company Kinexon and supported by Amazon Web Services (AWS) for physical distancing and contact tracing. As a result, the company was able keep open its most essential sites while also recording zero cases of on-site COVID-19 virus transmission.

Protecting Workers From COVID-19 While Keeping Critical Products Flowing

After the world’s major health organizations declared a global pandemic in March 2020, Waters wanted to be on the vanguard of establishing proactive measures in health and safety. Although protecting its global workforce naturally took precedence over business continuity, Waters recognized that its role in combating COVID-19 was also a priority. To keep its 19 most essential sites running, the company implemented multiple science-based solutions designed to reduce viral transmission including mandatory masking, plexiglass partitions, on-site testing, social distancing and contact tracing. When it wanted to enhance contact tracing capabilities and ensure that employees followed physical distancing rules, it went looking for a technology solution that could help.

“Once we were confident in the efficacy of the SafeZone solution, we were all in and continue to this day to expand our program.”

- Thomas Wesley, Senior Director of Workplace Solutions, Waters Corporation

SafeTag, You’re It: IoT Tags Enable Continuous Operations

While Waters was pondering how to enforce physical distancing measures at its sites, the news was spreading that Germany-based Kinexon was adapting the internet of things (IoT) and tag technology they offer NBA, NFL, and other athletes to help companies with contact warning and tracing. Waters approached Kinexon about using Kinexon SafeZone to help prevent the spread of infection. Because Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), underpin the SafeZone technology, Kinexon was able to rapidly address the challenge. After a pilot, Kinexon helped Waters roll out the tags and IoT technology to 19 sites and 1,700 workers. 

Warning Beeps and Lights = 0 Essential Sites Shutdowns

To adapt a tag designed for athletes to help companies like Waters prevent infection, Kinexon modified the hardware so it would let co-workers know when they were standing too close. The Kinexon SafeTag is configurable, so Waters set theirs up so that when two workers were less than 6 feet apart for several seconds, the tags would blink and beep. Everyone who comes to a Waters site must wear the tags. Not only has this configurable IoT technology and software allowed Waters to remain at almost full production capacity, it has also helped Waters ensure zero shut downs for 19 of its most essential sites.

“AWS really helped us scale quickly, all the way on the edge, on-premises in the plants, and with access to one instance in the cloud. We also benefitted from security measures already in place.”

- Dr. Alexander Huettenbrink, Co-founder and CEO, Kinexon

Contact Tracing with Tags and Software = 0 Site Infections in 14 Months

With Kinexon SafeZone, Waters can determine contact frequency and duration immediately and use Kinexon software to decode the otherwise anonymous data in minutes. When the tags are put back in their charging stations after use, they store only relevant contact event data, such as sensor ID, time, duration, and distance, while maintaining privacy of the workers. This measurement is independent of the contact location and completely pseudonymized. Kinexon software analyzes the data and provides statistics and visualizations so Waters can identify the potential for infection. This technology enabled Waters to implement isolation guidelines that ensure the safety of co-workers around the workspaces should they come in contact with someone who is infected. The result: there were zero cases of on-site virus transmission in more than 14 months.

“The Kinexon technology has added a tremendous sense of precision in an otherwise imprecise endeavor. Contact tracing negative by Kinexon SafeZone became a mantra of confidence.”

- Thomas Wesley, Senior Director of Workplace Solutions, Waters Corporation

Health and Safety Mission Accomplished: 280,000+ Visits Across 19 Sites

Combined with other measures such as testing and establishing vaccination sites near Waters facilities, the Kinexon IoT technology has helped Waters create a safe, proactive environment for its workers. Waters sites have been accessed over 280,000 times in 2021 without incident. Thanks to the ability to maintain continuous operations since March 2020, Waters has been able to make meaningful contributions to the fight against COVID.

“In significant measure, Kinexon and AWS have helped us deliver on our public health mission,” said Thomas Wesley, senior director of workplace solutions at Waters.

Waters Corporation

About Waters Corporation

Based in Milford, Massachusetts, Waters Corporation provides specialty scientific-measurement instruments and software for laboratory-dependent organizations that operate in highly regulated industries.

About Kinexon

Kinexon, an AWS Partner, provides performance and analytics solutions for sports teams and leagues as well as specialized real-time IoT solutions for Industry 4.0. The company pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic to launch IoT solutions for contact warning and tracing and has offices in Germany and the US.

Published August 2022