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Machine Safety and Wireless Devices
June 16, 2011
Conventional machine safety has been challenged for the last ten years with new technology and standards. Safety automation has led the new technology pack while NFPA 79 took the lead on the standards side. Both combined in 2002 to introduce safety PLCs, safety fieldbus, and e-stops on a safety rated bus. The latest challenge to conventional safety is wireless (aka cableless) innovation impacting devices, fieldbus technology, and machine control applications. Are we ready?
Innovation of technology most often drives the changes to industrial standards. Therefore, I can think of several new technologies evolving into machine control and machine safety.
- Wireless fieldbus technology
- Wireless/cableless operator control panels
- Wireless sensors
- Wireless remote I/O
- Wireless remote control
- WirelessHART, and
- Wireless switches… to name a few.
Who has any idea how these technologies will directly or indirectly impact machine safety?
Some of the industry standards have already changed or updated their language to allow and in some cases provide specific required steps that “shall” be followed when applying these technologies for safety applications. Some of these technologies are even safety rated by NRTLs (Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories) like TUV or UL to various SIL and/or Performance Levels.
In my opinion, the direct impacts on machine safety should be less worrisome because we deal with direct impacts every day on the shop floor. It’s the indirect impacts that most often surprise everyone and almost every surprise is dangerous. The book says to identify all hazards via a risk assessment and to mitigate the hazards to acceptable levels.
So, is the risk assessment considered as key to the proper application of these technologies?
Let’s hear your ideas?
Submit your ideas, experiences, and challenges on this subject in the comments section below. Click on the following text if you don't see a comments box, then scroll down: Machine Safety and Wireless Devices.
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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.
Friday, 21-10-11 00:10
Please provide more instruction on this part.
Friday, 17-06-11 12:23
Daniel - Industry has been using some wireless devices for applications, such as lifts in construction or overhead bridge cranes in industrial plants. However, in the past two or three years suppliers have released many new wireless devices/products for the applications mentioned. This is having a dramatic affect on machine design, machine controls, and machine/operator safety. And, the risk assessment process is key to their proper application. Thanks for your comment!
Friday, 17-06-11 09:17
Again, this is nothing new. There are plenty of companies around the world that has been doing this since the mid-eighties. This isn't new technology, it is 30 years old technology. Visit any construction site, and you will see.