Safety is a key aspect of the IIoT

While safety is sometimes maligned as anti-production, it still has a crucial role to play with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and should not be overlooked.

By Gregory Hale, ISSSource October 20, 2016

In this age of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) it is possible to gain quality information from all systems throughout the enterprise and the plant floor—and that includes safety.

"If you are going to digitize, you have to connect the plant together and the business side needs to connect to the plant side," said Dave Krieger, software regional manager at Rockwell Automation, during his talk Wednesday entitled, "Safety Data: Getting Value from Today’s Connected Enterprise," at EHS Today’s Safety Leadership Conference in Pittsburgh, PA. "The big picture down the road is we have to connect everything together. We are starting to see more people empowered because they have real-time information. That includes the EHS side which can help as a part of a team of people that can drive decision making."

With the IIoT, the potential to aggregate and measure safety-related information becomes easier and much more important. Being able to evaluate safety data can provide insight regarding the use and efficiency of safety systems and the impact on production processes.

When talking to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) about machine specifications, users always talk about performance, quality and safety.

"Safety has always been there," Krieger said, "but no one has ever really collected data. That could help in compliance and auditing," he said. Being able to cull data, could also assist in safety event tracking and monitoring the safety system. That is why a discussion with an OEM should include the ability to collect all types of safety data from the machine.

In the end, he said, it is all about data collection. Being able to collect key performance indicators (KPI) from the shop floor can bring dividends.

One KPI/IIoT case in point was line or machine downtime could end up caused by a safety event. By being able to conduct safety event tracking, it is possible to identify issues related to the safety system. The user could find trends and it is possible to track productivity.

George Schuster, business development manager and safety expert at Rockwell Automation, talked about the functional safety lifecycle and four areas where manufacturers are strong:

  • Risk assessment
  • Development of safety specifications
  • Design and verification
  • Installation and validation.

"Manufacturers do a good job with all four of those," he said.

However, when it comes to the maintaining and improving part of the lifecycle, manufacturers need to improve and that is where pulling data from the system can help.

"Data can give us insight in proper use and optimize use, but also misuse," Schuster said.

By evaluating the data, it is possible to see what can happen to not only improve safety, but also hike productivity.

"Safety gets indicted as the anti-production piece," said Mark Eitzman, global market development manager for safety at Rockwell Automation. "The data is right there in the machine."

"We want to bring operational improvements to the plant, not just reducing injuries," Schuster said.

Gregory Hale is the editor and founder of Industrial Safety and Security Source (, a news and information Website covering safety and security issues in the manufacturing automation sector. This content originally appeared on Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media, Control

ONLINE extra

See additional stories from ISSSource about the IIoT linked below.

Control Engineering is hosting a webcast on October 20 at 1 PM CDT on cybersecurity and the IIoT. Click here to register.

Original content can be found at