Machine Safety

An 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.

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Cableless (Wireless) Operator Panel Applications

April 02, 2010


Cableless (wireless) operator panels for machine applications, in my opinion, need special application considerations for appropriate and safe use. True, we often talk about how a wireless field bus and a wired field bus have many similarities. Even when they are safety certified for functional safety applications they continue to have many similarities. However, there are several application recommendations available to ensure that utmost care is exercised in planning and execution of cableless (wireless) operator panel. In no particular order, some of the recommendations are as follows:

  • Choose a supplier with a track record of successful applications having NRTL (Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory) tested and certified products for safety applications.
  • Make sure your Risk Assessment for the application is up to date and identifies any hazards presented by a cableless (wireless) solution.
  • Research current/available industry standards and regulations addressing your application.
  • If at all possible, complete a functional specification for the application and make sure any safety related functions are identified.
  • Consult heavily with your supplier for their application/installation recommendations.
  • Consider best practices and lessons learned.
  • Perform a complete checkout of all normal and safety functions.
  • to mention a few……………

Remember that “Murphy’s Law” say’s that the unforeseen is likely to happen so keep in mind that responsible suppliers put limits on their products and applications to increase their reliability. Given this to be the case, it’s my opinion to always stay within the supplier’s specifications and recommendations for the greatest assurance of reliability and safety compliance. Often times there are cost saving advantages for utilizing cableless (wireless) operator panels but only if their reliable and safe.   

Further information is available at a Webinar I’m presenting on this topic titled “The Case for Wireless Safety” scheduled for April 28th. The link for registration is -  https://siemens.webex.com/mw0306l/mywebex/default.do?siteurl=siemens

For more on Machine Safety visit: www.jbtitus.com

Posted by J.B. Titus on April 2, 2010



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.