Designing In Machine Guarding


Which is bottom line friendly whether you’re a large company or small - machine guarding as a pre-thought or after-thought?

In reading Jeanine Katzel’s excellent feature article this month for Control Engineering titled “How To Integrate Safety,” I was reminded when I first met the Director, Safety Engineering Services for Johnson & Johnson. This was approximately ten years ago at his office in New Brunswick, NJ, when he introduced me to the J&J executive credo of “safety as a pre-thought.” In Jeanine’s article she draws the same correlation vs “safety as an after-thought” from the integration, engineering, and cost comparison perspectives. Clearly this points out to me the early vision of some companies like J&J.  Even ten years ago there were recognized advantages to designing in safety vs adding safety to a machine as an after-thought. And, this was before the year over year double digit growth of safety automation during the last seven to eight years.

Within the past ten years safety innovation has delivered safety automation products like safety PLC’s, safety drives, safe motion, safe CNC, safety bus communication, and safe wireless….to mention a few. This rapid innovation curve plus updates to safety regulations & standards when combined with company policy updates to design machine safety as a pre-thought vs an after-thought – can actually deliver! It has been my personal experience to actually witness projects deliver the kinds of results Jeanine details in her article. So, I guess in part, I’m actually supporting the theme of her article but I’m also addressing the innovation angle. I’ve actually participated in modifying and updating the safety standards, being driven by the innovation in technology, and personally seeing early adopters driving savings to the bottom line.

Yes, J&J was an early adopter of safety as a pre-thought and drove some improvements utilizing conventional safety field devices. However, the cost saving examples Jeanine describes can be far greater today in my opinion because of safety automation. Elimination of 640 wires being replaced with one five wire cable and eliminating dozens of field devices can deliver a host of cost savings. And, as an added benefit – your safety score card can also improve.

In my opinion whether you are a small, medium or large company, consider safety as a pre-thought for every project. Share your experiences when safety was a pre-thought in your design of machine safety solutions.     

Contact: to improve your bottom line via machine safety.

Related articles:

How To Integrate Safety

Machine Safety…Who Is Responsible?

Machine safety pays off

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