Machine Safety: You can have both safety and productivity

Solutions can deliver machine safety and productivity. Safety automation delivers a viable option to cabling discrete electromechanical components for safety compliance. And, by eliminating the need for cabling, safety automation can now help improve productivity.


Safety automation for machine control graphic shows technology and reliability adoption over time, according to J.B. Titus. Courtesy: Control Engineering Machine Safety blogAfter years of machine safety being blamed for unexplained accidents and lost productivity we have finally achieved solutions capable of delivering both machine safety and productivity. Safety automation delivers a viable option to cabling discrete electromechanical components for safety compliance. And, by eliminating the need for cabling, safety automation can now help improve productivity.

If you have lived in industry for the past 40 years you would have witnessed the entire paradigm shift in machine control systems from "everything wired" to "cables safety." For machine control systems this is like comparing hot air balloons to Boeing’s "Dream Liner" for transportation. When speaking to industry colleagues I can easily see that less than 10% of a typical audience was working in industry in the 1960s. Most weren’t even born.  

Today, safety automation offers flexible scalable safety controllers and advanced communications incorporating field devices, wireless safe sensors, safe software, safe drives & motion and optoelectronics including light curtains, scanners and safe cameras. The impact on the architecture of a machine control system is a dramatic leaning out of the number and type of components like motor starters, contactors, safety relays, and resolvers. Eliminating these components also reduces their control reliable architecture design effort and related point to point wiring required to meet the redundancy demands for highly reliable safety functions.

As a result, in my opinion, safety automation offers greater reliability of safety functions over time and increased productivity because functions for the multiple devices above are integrated directly into safety certified devices. A main reason for greater productivity is that problematic intermittent failures of multiple components and their point to point wiring have been reduced significantly.

This is too logical, right? If this thought is holding you back just ask yourself, "why are practically all of the automation control and device manufacturers investing millions of dollars integrating safety functionality into their products?" There must be a market for them to generate a return on investement (ROI). Otherwise they wouldn't be investing.

Has this presented you with any new perspectives? Add your comments or thoughts to the discussion by submitting your ideas, experiences, and challenges in the comments section below.

Related articles:

Machine Safety – system degradation and incidence of injury.

Updating Minds About Machine Safety

Machine Safety – the myths of safety cultures.

Machine safety: Will applying OEE improve safety, compliance, and profits? 

Contact: for “Solutions for Machine Safety”.

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