Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis, operating efficiencies and cost savings, as well as all relevant safety standards, such as those from NFPA, ANSI, RIA, IEC, ISO and OSHA.
About J.B. Titus

As An OEM – Can I Choose Which Standards?

October 25, 2010


This is a frequent question where an OEM is approaching a new design or new machine. And, often this is the case when it’s a start-up OEM.

So, what’s the answer?

Several years back for me I would usually start my reply with “Well, it depends!” Those OEM meetings were usually pretty short. Today, I’ve learned to conduct some analysis of what the OEM is trying to accomplish, what their competitive landscape looks like, and if they’re trying to differentiate their new machine from other’s on the market. So, in my experience, OEM’s have chosen various electrical standards upon which to base their design and they’ve proceeded to build a competitive advantage for their application. On the other hand, I know plenty of OEM’s over the years that have maintained their design around certain electrical standards but have elected to differentiate their design on a proprietary mechanical design. Which approach is better? Or, does it even matter?

In my opinion, the answer to the first question is, yes - you can choose which standards to use in the U.S., today. And, the advice to the OEM is to be ready to support your decision and basis for design when called on! Regarding whether an electrical basis or a mechanical basis is best, that decision really rests on the individual OEM Company involved. My advice, when asked, usually points to the electrical standards because most of the innovative changes over the last ten years have surfaced with these standards. These innovative changes also allow the application of innovative controls with safety functions built into the components. This innovation can frequently deliver savings in engineering and material costs and, via built-in diagnostics, actually reduce the machine check-out time. In addition, all of these factors can actually reduce the time to market for a new machine. In my experience, this same level of innovation has not occurred on the mechanical side.

Here’s the bottom line in considering different standards for the basis of designs and machines. I suggest that you always take the time to determine the “listed” machine types printed within each standard (electrical or mechanical) to make certain that your design/application is covered by that standard.   

 Submit your ideas, experiences, and challenges on this subject in the comments section below.

Related articles:

How To Integrate Safety

Designing In Machine Guarding    

Contact: www.jbtitus.com for “Solutions for Machine Safety”.



For more than 30 years, J.B. Titus has advised a wide range of clients on machine functional safety solutions, including Johnson & Johnson, Siemens, General Motors, Disney, Rockwell Automation, Bridgestone Firestone, and Samsung Heavy Industries. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Oklahoma University in industrial management and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University in marketing and finance. He is a professional member of the American Society of Safety Engineers and is OSHA-certified in machine guarding. Titus is also TUV-certified as a Functional Safety Expert and serves on several American National Standards Institute, National Fire Protection Association, and National Electrical Manufacturers Association national safety and health standards committees. Reach him at jb(at)jbtitus.com and via www.jbtitus.com.