Competitive Value of Machine Safety

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Competitve Value of Machine Safety

Machine safety is thought of as a system requirement—something that’s critical for any system component,, but not necessarily a means for productivity and competitive value.

With that in mind, let us approach machine safety from a holistic perspective, particularly how machine safety is used as a competitive advantage by machine builders.

The competitive value of machine safety

1. How safety functions improve productivity
In addition to providing workplace security to employees, implementing safety procedures and software increases overall productivity in multiple ways.

Improved machine uptime. Safety functions reduce downtime, increase productivity, and speed up operations by negating the need to power off the machine when in a safe state.

Scrap reduction. Stopping the process in a controlled manner instead of abruptly interrupting the process by just cutting power or e-stop, the machine can continue production without having to realign material and scrap the material that was restricted when safe state was activated.

Reduced floor spacing. By using motor-integrated technology with safety functions, the footprint of a machine can be drastically reduced while simultaneously increasing machine efficiency. Shorter reaction times allow machines to reach safe state quicker, reducing the necessary distance to reach a protected area.

Increased operator safety and efficiency. At the forefront of machine safety is the machine operator’s safety. If applied correctly, it keeps the operators safer, but also increases machine efficiency.

2. Finding a safety solution that works for you

As safety technology advances deciding on the right safety solution for your company’s application can be a daunting task.

Drive-integrated safety functions. In the past, safety functions were realized with additional hardware components like contactors or redundant electromechanical safety devices. The result: Machines and production lines had to be shut down in hazardous situations, leading to long and costly downtimes.

Drive-integrated safety brings more flexibility to the shop floor by reducing the electromechanical footprint and components of machines, that ultimately reduce downtime.

3. What are the key considerations for designing safety into machines?

Do a risk assessment. The limits of the machine are determined, the hazards on the machine are reviewed, and the risk estimate and risk evaluation are defined.

Define trigger events. In particular, define what happens in those events. Manufacturers may notice that opening a guard door makes an axis stop or breaking a light curtain and will make the machine run at a slow speed.

Define the safety function. Now that the trigger events are identified, manufacturers will know what will happen if safe zones are interrupted, and how these functions are going to be accomplished.

4. Smart safety for shop floor transparency: making use of safety data

By using operator data such as biometrics, training levels, and even language skills, the machine can be programmed to react to the unique characteristics of its user in order to provide the safest environment for individual operators.

Safety technology benefits extend beyond keeping workers safe. Integrating machine safety is not a daunting financial investment when the productivity benefits of applying safety functions is considered alongside employee satisfaction.