Envisioning a Safer Future

MSA Safety


Planning for the integration of IoT capabilities in future products

MSA Safety has long been the leader in specialized equipment for workers in fire service, oil and gas, mining, and other industries where safety is key. Knowing that connected work is an important part of the future of safety, MSA called on Thoughtform to plan and facilitate a Future Visioning workshop to imagine how using IIoT technology could be transformative.

Knowledge is safety. For work in hazardous environments, it’s critical to ensure that workers are following safety protocols, that they are healthy minute to minute, and that emerging risks are detected and managed. While these needs have traditionally been challenging to meet, IIoT technology (“industrial internet of things”) offers a tremendous new opportunity to address them. MSA asked Thoughtform to help them envision a strategic approach for integrating IIoT tech into MSA products in order to monitor and enhance worker safety. 

A competitive field

MSA is an industry leader thanks to its depth of knowledge in safety and site operations, broad range of products, and global network of expertise. They knew they were positioned to deliver unique value by connecting data across products and platforms at industrial sites, enabling workers to reach new heights in terms of safety, efficiency, and capability. But MSA’s key competitors—as well as several start-ups with potential to disrupt the industry—had publicly launched visions for harnessing insights from portable products, fixed infrastructure, and site management platforms to benefit workers. 

An expert team

MSA convened a cross-disciplinary team from across the organization, with knowledge across the industries MSA serves as well as deep technical, product, and customer expertise. Facilitated by Thoughtform, they would undertake a rigorous and creative deep dive into the potential applications of IIoT.

An inclusive process

To define a sound strategy for bringing together safety products and services through connectivity, Thoughtform guided the team to consider the industrial connected worker, work site, and the workflow strategy as well as voice of customer inputs and the needs and priorities of multiple product groups. The vehicle for building the vision was something many of the participants had not experienced: a creative, immersive, daylong workshop that had them creating user stories, building rough models, and shooting simple but effective videos to bring future states to life.

An engaging vision 

Ultimately the team created a mind-expanding playbook that answered six strategic questions about MSA’s best approach to connecting workers — from Why now? to Where can we provide the most value? to How will we achieve our vision? The playbook used engaging hand-drawn illustrations that helped the wider MSA community visualize the recommended applications while leaving room for them to add their own insights and details.