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Machine Safety & Cableless (Wireless) Safety - with comments

February 24, 2010


Machine Safety and Cableless Operator Stations with Safety! Did I just say all of that in the same sentence? Is this Doctor Spoc in Star Trek or is it the 21st Century? Well, beam me up Scotty because my radar screen sees something on the horizon. For several years now we’ve seen applications of safety functions being performed in machine architectures using safety certified and listed products where portions of the safety certified communications bus is wireless. So, does it make common sense that a natural migration of innovation would provide cableless operator stations with safety functions as added functionality?Cabled pendants in robot cells have been used for years and several years ago they evolved to cableless (meaning they have their own power source). Cableless pendants can be considered one type of cableless operator station and they have typically incorporated a switch where the operator holds the panel which is designed to immediately stop the robot in its tracks. In my opinion this functionality could be called a safety function, today! A risk analysis is probably the best way to know these days. So, as the innovative engineers continue their march, it’s my hunch that cableless operator panels with a functioning e-stop are on the horizon. Just think about this for a minute. Cableless operator panels are essentially the same as a machine mounted panel which typically has an e-stop. Wireless safety communication technology is now available certified by a NRTL (Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory) and listed for use in safety applications. So, in combining these technologies, why not bring Star Trek down to earth? This technology is no longer somewhere out in space - it has in fact arrived!Some suppliers have already introduced these products overseas and they are in the process of evaluation and certification for use in the US. My advice is - get ready for the risk assessment, application requirements, and training necessary to safely apply this new technology. It could be just what Doctor Spoc ordered.For more on Machine Safety visit: www.jbtitus.com

Posted by J.B. Titus on February 24, 2010

COMMENTS

February 26, 2010

In response to: Machine Safety & Cableless (Wireless) SafetyLundin commented:

There are approximately somewhere between 20 to 40 companies around the world doing exactly these kind of products. Here in Sweden we had an official legislation for them back in 1984, so I don't quite see what's so revolutionary.
If you want a HMI device with graphic display, fieldbus support etc I can sell you one :)

February 26, 2010

In response to: Machine Safety & Cableless (Wireless) SafetyLundin commented:

You can find such a HMI device here:
www.datek.net

February 26, 2010

In response to: Machine Safety & Cableless (Wireless) SafetyLundin commented:

Just as Star Trek, this technology arrived 30 years ago.
I happen to work at a company designing industrial radio remote controls. In our branch, the safety debate is ever-present. If you don't know about and conform to the safety standards, you won't sell any systems. It is a major sales argument.
At least in Europe, all serious companies designing industrial remote controls label their systems "safety components", and thereby the systems sort under for example the European machinery directive. And as soon as the product does, you will have to perform risk analysis, conform with ISO 13849 and so on.
Manufacturers of industrial radio remote controls have labelled their products safety components for as long as anyone can remember. Even though they have had the possibility to interpret the fuzzy machinery directive in many ways.
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Note that specific standards under the machinery directive, such as IEC 60204-32 for lifting equipment, explicitly states that you may not label a wireless stop, or a stop based on advanced electronics, as "emergency stop", even though the stop function is implemented in a safe way.

March 9, 2010

In response to: Machine Safety & Cableless (Wireless) SafetyJohn Presley commented:

 

What a great innovation; a wireless, graphical display with safety. Who would have thought this was possible. I see many applications this could solve or provide a better way of doing things in the manufacturing enviroment I work in each day. My biggest question at this point is, where is it? What vendor has such an animal, or will be the first to develop a wireless HMI device with safety built in. Also will innovations like this be delayed in standards committees? With safety approved wireless protocols like Profisafe, and i’m sure others as well, already being in the market place you would think additions like a safe, wireless, HMI and other technologies like this would be coming out of the wood works. Thanks for the blog, I found it informative and thought stiring.



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.