Stay safe with SICK Automation
November 2017, IS & Ex
Safety systems that are specifically tailored to applications are becoming an increasingly vital part of SICK Automation’s strategy for the safety technology of the future. The aim is to provide OEMs with ready to install packages containing not only hardware, but also all the necessary documentation as well as all the information that is relevant to certification. One reason why this new approach is particularly attractive for the manufacturing industry is that it has expanded the systems to include customised safety services, too. As a provider of complete solutions, this means that SICK is also including guidance for customers through the process of commissioning ambitious modernisation projects.
It’s good to know that dangers can be kept hidden behind closed doors. But, if someone does stray into a dangerous area, it is also good to have systems that will reliably detect this, thus preventing injuries caused by machine movements. Safety switches with guard locking or even finely woven light curtain functions are static elements in everyday use within plants. If an event defined in the control system occurs, the machine is shifted to a defined safe status. The range of safety functions out there is many and varied, and so too are the components that are available in the automation market. With all eyes now firmly fixed on Industrie 4.0, the question for safety technology applications is how flexible the interaction between sensor technology and actuator engineering will need to be in the future. And also, how much intelligence will be needed in order to make adaptations in line with dynamically changing production conditions. The Safeguard Detector safety system reveals exactly what this approach involves in practice.
Safe, but also smart
Viewed from a purely functional perspective, the Safeguard Detector is firstly a complete safety solution that is easy to implement in packaging machines, for monitoring material transportation on carton magazines as an example. There are conventional methods available for protecting hazardous areas of this nature, including mechanical tunnel covers combined with safety switches. However, this method restricts the machine operator’s access, limiting both accessibility and flexibility. A much more sophisticated and productive method is to secure the hazardous area in such a way that access can only be gained when the carton magazine falls below a specific minimum fill level. Taking a production guided approach to safety technology, this strategy prevents accidental access to the safety zone. It is a concept that also conceals another beneficial aspect – a higher production speed and more space thanks to smaller protection zones. This system is an example of a complete safety solution for a particular application.
Prepared and approved
The concept has been taken even further. Safety systems provide solutions for typical safety functions that need to be applied over and over again. The packages are configured so that customers can order all the materials they need for installation using a single part number. This number does not simply represent the individual sensor, or a controller or the connection cable, instead, it represents everything that is needed for the application in question: hardware, operating instructions, training, certificates, plus technical data and software. With everything including certification provided ready-prepared, SICK makes the machine engineer’s work quicker and easier. After all, where machine engineers’ core skills lie are in production processes and process technology; safety technology is not necessarily a main focus.
SICK makes life easier through the prepared solutions it provides, giving customers the freedom to focus more on automation. Alongside the Safeguard Detector, other safety solutions that are frequently requested include packages for autonomous vehicles in logistics, sheet metal working machines, production facility access monitoring, and storage systems. Every package has been designed on the basis of a modular concept, enabling the number of safety systems to be expanded easily using the extensive portfolio and thus making it possible to find quick solutions to new tasks in the future.
Modernisation: fast solutions with manufacturer knowledge
SICK’s strategy for safety technology, favouring a view of the system as a whole rather than focusing purely on individual components, creates tangible advantages for operating entities. While safety systems predominantly address mechanical engineering and plant engineering requirements, these safety solutions take things one step further from the perspective of system operators. In addition to the individual components and safety systems, they also include safety services. Engineering support that is provided for mechanical engineers can also be transferred to the end customer and their entire production plant, ultimately creating a complete solution.
Safe Tire Curing Solutions is a solution for protecting the hazardous area of tyre curing machines, which are used in tyre production to shape and vulcanise green tyres. Accidents occurring at these plants in the past have shown that the process is indeed hazardous, with the plants often demonstrating gaps in their safety technology measures. This results in a high risk of accidents occurring, particularly at tyre curing machines that must be loaded manually by a worker. As a result, new machines must meet the requirements of EN 16474 Tire Curing Machines – Safety Requirements, and are therefore being equipped with more advanced safety technology by machine manufacturers. But what about older plants?
This is where the strategy shines. It aims to take a more consistently solutions-based approach to safety technology and examine the specific challenges posed by an application. Safety services are an integral part of Safety Solutions. Existing plants can therefore be retrofitted quickly and routinely by experienced specialists, so there is no need for customers to tie up their own resources in the process. The service portfolio includes the initial risk analysis, the safety concept, the safety hardware and software design, the installation, as well as the commissioning and validation processes in accordance with the requirements of EN 16474 and GB30474 for tyre curing machines. In practice, this intelligent safety concept ultimately ensures that productivity increases, waste is reduced, and, above all, operator safety is improved. The loading area is protected by a safety laser scanner which uses its intelligent approach function to automate restarting. Either monitored access points or opto-electronic protective devices can be used to protect the area at the rear of the machine.
Companies who opt for Safety Solutions to carry out retrofitting of this nature find that the process could not be simpler, from analysis to planning and all the way through to implementation in compliance with standards, everything is guided by safety experts. A machine safeguarding evaluation preemptively reveals any existing safety loopholes. The risk analysis, which is included in this, contains all the information required for risk-minimising measures. This step needs to be carried out in order for the specific technical measures to be planned in the safety concept. Once the customer approves the measures, conversions or retrofitting can begin. Thanks to the comprehensive portfolio of safety sensors and systems available, the right customer-specific solution can be created at an appropriate scale. After validation and approval, the customer is provided with the documentation required for acceptance.
For more information contact Stephen Eltze, SICK Automation Southern Africa, +27 (0)41 399 9485, email@example.com, www.sickautomation.co.za
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