How to choose an industrial safety controller
September 2018, IS & Ex
Machine safety is often complex and daunting, but it can be more intuitive. An easy-to-use and flexible safety controller will make it much easier to get a system up and running quickly with minimal downtime, and will allow users to expand and adapt to future needs.
The following are five key features to look for in a safety controller that will save time and money, as well as help ensure that operators are using the safety system correctly. As with any safety application, one should consult a safety expert about specific application requirements.
1. Intuitive programming
An icon-based, drag-and-drop user interface reduces the learning curve and speeds up commissioning. This also makes it easy to modify and update the configuration when changes are needed. Note that many safety controllers have password protection to ensure only authorised users can make changes, reducing the risk of operators bypassing the system.
The XS26 expandable safety controller from Banner includes software with a seamless user interface for setting up and managing safety systems. It also has a built-in display and a micro USB connection to connect a PC or download a configuration from the XM memory card.
2. Automatic generation of wiring diagrams
A safety controller interface that automatically generates wiring diagrams speeds up installation. Once the user has set up a safety system configuration in the safety controller software, safety controllers like the XS and SC from Banner will automatically provide wire diagrams of the configuration, making it easy to commission.
3. Live simulation
Live simulation allows users to test configurations quickly. Look for a safety controller that offers a simulation mode to test new configurations and changes prior to implementation. (Note that simulations do not replace commissioning checkout procedures on installed systems. Always follow required procedures for installed systems detailed in the product instruction manual.)
4. Expandable controllers
An expandable controller provides flexibility for changes. Having a safety controller that can expand when required (especially to accommodate last minute changes) allows for the required agility to meet deadlines and implement changes quickly. In addition, an expandable safety controller lets one increase the number of inputs via expansion cards as safety devices get added. The number of outputs can also be increased with expansion cards as the safety control needs change. Here again, intuitive programming is important and helps make it quick and easy to implement changes.
5. Real-time fault monitoring
Finally, real-time fault monitoring allows quick identification of problems. Look for a safety controller that can communicate with the PLC via Profinet, Modbus, TCP/IP, PCCC, etc. This allows remote monitoring of safety devices and will ensure that users are notified whenever there is an issue with the safety system. For example, XS26 and SC26 safety controllers can communicate via Profinet, Ethernet/IP, Modbus, and PCCC up to 256 virtual status updates to a PLC and/or HMI that can be stored and tracked for future analysis. Furthermore, these controllers can also receive up to 80 virtual non-safety inputs to turn safety devices or indicators on and off, enable mute functions, cancel off-delays, initiate a reset or accomplish other tasks in the HMI without complicated programming.
A safety controller that is easy to use and implement can make a big difference in getting safety solutions up and running quickly and effectively. But a safety controller is just one piece of a safety solution. Banner Engineering provides a complete portfolio of easy-to-use safety devices – along with LED indication – to make managing complex safety systems simple and intuitive.
For more information contact Brandon Topham, RET Automation Controls, +27 11 453 2468, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.retautomation.com