Have You Considered Machine Safety's Compliance Lifecycle?
As a plant manager, have you ever wondered in the dark of night how effective the machine guarding in your plant is protecting your #1 resource, your employee?
As a plant manager, have you ever wondered in the dark of night how effective the machine guarding in your plant is protecting your #1 resource, your employee? In order to take an honest look at this question I think we need to step back and ask this question - How does my corporate safety culture play a role in maintaining a robust machine guarding practice over time?
Drilling into this question, I suggest we look at two basic approaches industry uses today in providing machine guarding. These two approaches are either separate hardwired applications or designed in and fully integrated safety automation. I think that we would all agree that these two approaches are at least equally robust and compliant when the machines are initially commission into production. The real difference we’ve all experienced between these two approaches occurs over time with regard to maintaining their effectiveness. Simply put, the hardwired applications require a lot of attention and effort to maintain their effectiveness because of everyday events or issues. Some of these events or issues could include:
· Engineering modifications
· Welded contacts on components
· Jumpered components
· Overdue maintenance
· Intermittent downtime – broken or loose cables
· Excessive downtime due to inadequate operator diagnostics
How well these kinds of everyday events and issues are mitigated is generally a direct result of the “safety culture” within any given organization. A practice I’ve seen frequently is that the level of safety compliance for hardwired machine safety applications often drifts, degrades, and silently becomes less compliant. It’s a constant struggle to keep these systems fully functional as they age.
On the other hand, fully integrated safety automation machine guarding systems are flexible and can be more easily modified over time. They also incorporate significantly less wiring, include simplified fault detection and operator diagnostics, and eliminate numerous add-on safety components. It appears that these systems also have greater longevity and reliability because they’re based on certified hardware and software technology vs electromechanical components which have defined failure rates.
These are definitely interesting times for us dealing with machine safety and machine guarding strategies. In the 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s there was hardly a choice of approaches. Today, the plant manager has a choice – hardwired or fully integrated machine safety. You can learn more about these issues by registering for the Control Engineering Safety Integration webcast scheduled for April 14, 2011. Which approach offers the best safety compliance lifecycle?
INTEGRATED SAFETY COULD BE YOUR OPPORTUNITY – CONSIDER IT!
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