ISO 13849-1 Machine Guarding adoption, part 1

Let’s assume that adopting ISO 13849-1 for Machine Guarding is unavoidable. That said, the “professorial” view is to train/educate everyone in industry about the requirements for compliance and possible business advantages. Then, there’s the “practical” view...


JB Titus, CFSELet’s assume that adopting ISO 13849-1 is unavoidable. That said, the “professorial” view is to train/educate everyone in industry about the requirements for compliance and possible business advantages. Then, there’s the “practical” view!

  The “professorial” view, in my opinion, makes no attempt to segregate the market based on size of company, personnel competence, OEM vs manufacturer, and other key market segments. The “practical” view conversely would address each segment individually as needed to develop tailored adoption methodologies. Whoa – does adoption mean the same thing to a Fortune 500 company and a small independent manufacturer with less than 50 employees? Probably not!

  In this part 1 discussion, let’s briefly review the small independent manufacturer's perspective. Does anyone have a clue how this manufacturer approaches this question here in the U.S.?

First let’s take a quick look at the roots of the international standard, ISO 13849-1. This standard was driven largely by our European colleagues, and 13849-1 is now listed under the European Machinery Directive, which legislates compliance to the standards. This fact transforms this consensus standard to an enforced legal standard in Europe. In the U.S., this consensus standard is enforced via “best practice,” through a company’s safety culture, and, regrettably, by litigation, on occasion.

Now - the “practical” discussion. The small manufacturer typically does not have the organizational technical staff needed to meet the additional compliance requirements of ISO 13849-1. Where will the small manufacturer get these needed competencies given that he operates on very thin margins? The supply chain? The small manufacturer also doesn’t usually install a complete control system retrofit. So, who will evaluate the complete safety circuit (motor, contactor, logic controller, actuator, interlock switch, for example) per the requirements of 13849-1? The performance level (PLa…..e) must be determined for the safety circuit even though only a new contactor is installed. This safety circuit conceivably will have a mixture of Cat, PL, and “non-existent” device safety ratings for each component.

   Does anyone have a recommendation or solution for this small manufacturer?

   What opinions, questions, or experiences can you add to this discussion?

   Your comments or suggestion are always welcome so please let us know your thoughts. 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: ISO 13849-1 Machine Guarding adoption, part 1.

   Did you see the Safety Integration Webcast?

   Related articles:

EN ISO 13849-1; 2008 – Are We Ready By December 2011?

Cover story: Machine Safety Integration

Trouble Implementing ISO 13849-1; 2006 per the European Machinery Directive

   Contact: for “Solutions for Machine Safety”.

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