How safe? You decide

Newer safety standards offer more flexibility. Does that make your figurative cup half empty or half full? Rather than following exact safe-design instructions, you can evaluate risks, assess probability of failures, see how they match, and determine the needed design-safety level for your machine or manufacturing process.

01/01/2006


Newer safety standards offer more flexibility. Does that make your figurative cup half empty or half full? Rather than following exact safe-design instructions, you can evaluate risks, assess probability of failures, see how they match, and determine the needed design-safety level for your machine or manufacturing process. Then, ensure everyone understands the equipment and safe procedures under all possible scenarios.

Talking to various industry experts and reviewing materials from a half-dozen industry conference sessions in recent months, I learned just enough about safety to be dangerous. If you want a blueprint for a safe design, then newer regulations may not satisfy. Gaining a working knowledge can take weeks of studying newer standards and an unmerciful number of cross-references. If you are creative, and like some flexibility, you may find it stimulating to apply new safety standards. If you're cynical, you also may think that new regulations are meant to sell more standards, providing ample work for consultants, trainers, system integrators, and software vendors in sorting it out. Knowledge of prior regulations can help in applying current safety standards—review regulations regularly, take a class, question those experts, and use their manuals and other tools.

Recently introduced, safety standard IEC-62061 helps with the design and validation of machine control systems that use PLCs or safety controllers for protection. Exida's Jon Keswick is teaching a related two-day course in February. He says, "Changes in standards are potentially difficult for people in the short term. Risk-based standards present a challenge to those who are more used to a prescriptive approach. Now people are required to think in greater detail about management, software, and the design of more complex, programmable systems." And the EN 954-1 standard, covering the design of non-complex safety related control systems under European machinery directive, is expected to be re-issued soon as ISO13849-1.

Integrating controls, hardware, and software with safety should be used as an opportunity to improve designs. Hazardous machine parts and their potential points of failure shouldn't be a conundrum, inside a mystery, wrapped in an enigma. Elegant, safe designs should ensure that the easiest way to do something is also the most economical and efficient. They should not encourage "work arounds," create production impediments, or contribute to accidents caused by complexity. Approach new safety regulations as blessing rather than a curse, and update me on your progress in safely filling (or manufacturing) the rest of your "half-full cup.

MHoske@cfemedia.com





No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
Control Engineering Leaders Under 40 identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn more about methods used to ensure that the integration between the safety system and the process control...
Adding industrial toughness and reliability to Ethernet eGuide
Technological advances like multiple-in-multiple-out (MIMO) transmitting and receiving
Virtualization advice: 4 ways splitting servers can help manufacturing; Efficient motion controls; Fill the brain drain; Learn from the HART Plant of the Year
Two sides to process safety: Combining human and technical factors in your program; Preparing HMI graphics for migrations; Mechatronics and safety; Engineers' Choice Awards
Detecting security breaches: Forensic invenstigations depend on knowing your networks inside and out; Wireless workers; Opening robotic control; Product exclusive: Robust encoders
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
News and comments from Control Engineering process industries editor, Peter Welander.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
Anthony Baker is a fictitious aggregation of experts from Callisto Integration, providing manufacturing consulting and systems integration.
Integrator Guide

Integrator Guide

Search the online Automation Integrator Guide
 

Create New Listing

Visit the System Integrators page to view past winners of Control Engineering's System Integrator of the Year Award and learn how to enter the competition. You will also find more information on system integrators and Control System Integrators Association.

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.