Safety: Which technologies safeguard the most machines?

Knowing what technologies are safeguarding the most machines now and in the future provides insights into what you might want to consider installing. Many types of safety sensors and controllers provide protection; the most widely used are....


Natick, MA – Knowing what technologies are safeguarding the most machines now and in the future provides insights into what you might want to consider installing on and around machinery. Which safety technologies used also influences onsite safety training. Selections of machine safety technologies are guided by laws and international personnel and environmental standards, OSHA regulations designed to keep machine operators and maintenance people safe, and by manufacturing plant safety, productivity, and quality.

Many types of safety sensors and controllers provide protection

Leading technologies for machine safety include light curtains, electromechanical single-function relays, electromechanical safety interlock switches, safety PLCs integrated with machine controllers, and palm button safety controls, according to a recent research firm study.
Findings in Global Markets for Machine Automatic Safeguarding Components and Equipment , a new white paper from Venture Development Corp ., are based on a recently completed worldwide market study on machine automatic safeguarding components and equipment. The paper highlights some the principal findings of the investigation. The study report provides tells product types and features, geographic markets, applications and industries, user needs, and competitors, and it shows 2007 and forecast 2012 worldwide shipments of machine automatic safeguarding products by major product classes.
Many factors determine the rate of shipment growth – automation innovations bringing about need for newer equipment and machinery, including safeguarding methods and equipment for these; changing machine safeguarding safety standards and regulations; growth expectations in worldwide economies, and likely growth in levels of capital investment in manufacturing; and increasing levels of understanding and acceptance of safeguarding technologies in various areas.
Largest dollar volume shipments of presence-sensing sensors are in light curtains. The forecast shipment growth rate for these is also the highest. Laser scanners were in second place. Lowest shipment growth rates are forecast for contact safety mat and edge products, being displaced in applications by non-contact optoelectronic, light curtain, and laser scanner products.
Among safety controllers/modules/relays , the largest shipments are electromechanical single-function relays. Higher growth rates are forecast for configurable and programmable types, modular relay systems, and solid state-single function types, but the forecast shipment growth rate for the solid state-single function type is below average. A well below-average growth rate is forecast for the small worldwide specialty controller market.
Among safety interlock switches studied, electromechanical types account for the largest shipments. These will remain the largest safety interlock switch category. However, the lowest shipment growth rate is forecast for these among all safety interlock switches studied. Highest unit growth rates are forecast for non-contact switches. Also among these, the highest growth rate is forecast for the small magnetic-coded segment.
Over in 2007 was of those integrated with machine controllers. This segment is forecast to have the highest worldwide shipment growth rate of all the products under study.
Of the two types of emergency-stop controls covered in the study, the largest worldwide shipments are for palm button safety controls. This segment is forecast to be the slowest growing over the forecast period. Worldwide growth for both these and rope (cable) pull switches are forecast at below average.
Below-average worldwide shipment growth rates are forecast for the electromechanical and ergonomic two-hand safety controls under study.
Of the 27 types of machine automatic safeguarding products studied, the average selling prices for 21 are expected to decline over the forecast period, with two expected to hold steady, and four to increase. The largest decline is expected for programmable safety controllers integrated with machine controllers. The largest increase is expected for ergonomic two-hand safety controllers.
Year 2007 and forecast 2012 worldwide shipment shares of the machine automatic safeguarding products under study to the three major geographic regions are:


Expected in 2012

Europe, Middle East, and Africa

Central, North and South America







The highest overall growth rate is forecast for shipments to Asia-Pacific markets. The most significant reason is rapidly increasing manufacturing operations in Asia-Pacific countries with emerging economies, particularly China.
Worldwide the largest 2007 shipments of the machine automatic safeguarding products under study by classes of application were assembly, material handling, metal working packaging and robotics.
Worldwide the largest 2007 shipments of the machine automatic safeguarding products under study by industries served were automotive, electronic products, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and semiconductor.
Also included were examination of product trends, safety standard requirements and trends, channels of distribution, sales forces, customer classes, current and emerging user needs, services and servicing, and how users learn about products and vendors. Year 2006 and 2007 worldwide shipments (in U.S $ volume and units) and average selling prices are provided for each of the product types studied, along with forecast shipments and average selling prices through 2012.
Author of the paper is Jim Taylor , VDC director, industrial automation and control practice.
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