Machine Safety: Has China caught the machine safety bug?

Rising costs of labor are fueling an increase in adopting automation in manufacturing to lessen the hiring of permanent employees, according to Control Engineering China. Does this focus on machine automation include safety automation?


According to Control Engineering China, rising costs of labor are fueling an increase in adopting automation in manufacturing to lessen the hiring of permanent employees. Does this focus on machine automation include safety automation?

In 2011 I spent a week in China conducting machine safety seminars and visiting several machinery manufacturers. The majority of their interest was to understand the scalable solutions for machine guarding and safety automation along with the compliance requirements for exporting machinery to the USA. The days were long. Everyone had lots of questions. Their interest was hard to anticipate in Microsoft Powerpoint presentations, so meetings frequently included standing at a white board and drawing pictures and flow diagrams. These tools, given the language barrier, helped significantly with audience comprehension.

Even with such strong thirst for knowledge there did not appear to be much interest in domestic machine safety applications. When we toured the manufacturing floor, we saw very high tech machinery and control systems on the machines being built for sale but the factory itself lacked similar automation.

In the June issue of Control Engineering Henry Qiao, editor, Control Engineering China, has an article titled, Labor supply, demand bring changes to China manufacturing industries.

Mr. Qiao discusses and provides examples where factories are investing in machine automation and installations of robotics for repetitive and high-strength work.

Does this mean that China has also caught the Machine Safety bug? I know of examples where China has recently developed domestic standards in metal forming machinery. Additionally, a working group committee updating IEC 60204-1, Safety of machinery – Electrical equipment of machines currently includes 4 to 7 attendees at committee meetings from China. Perhaps this points to an emerging paradigm shift in machine safety in China, and we’re about to witness its expansion and growth?

J.B. Titus, CFSE

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.

Related articles:

Labor supply, demand bring changes to China manufacturing industries 

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