Machine Safety: Burden or Improvement?

World Market for Discrete Machine Safety Components
Discrete machine safety components saw global revenues of about $1.5 billion in 2010, which is expected to reach $2.15 billion in 2015.

Suppliers have been telling machine builders that safety components are not a cost burden, but rather a means to improve their machinery—to improve productivity and improve downtime. It would appear that machine builders are beginning to agree. With a shift in thinking, IMS Research expects global revenues for discrete machine safety components to exceed $2.15 billion in 2015, up from $1.5 billion in 2010, according to a new report.

Granted, machine builders and end users are also working to come into compliance with the latest safety legislation. Until the end of this year, for example, machine builders can comply with either the old EN 954-1 standard, or with one of the new standards: EN ISO 13849-1 or EN IEC 62061, explains Mark Watson, research manager at IMS and author of the report. By the end of 2011, however, they must make a switch to one of the new standards, he says.

“That’s quite a big change going on,” Watson says. “Machine builders are seeing this transition as something that’s going to cost them money.”

But they’re beginning to come around to the suppliers’ way of thinking, realizing that the trend toward more intelligent safety components (more likely than not networked, Watson notes) can limit downtime and improve efficiencies. Component companies are looking for more ways to integrate diagnostics, looking for failures before they happen. Some examples include switch interlocks or guards on doors, where they’re integrating diagnostic indicator lights, Watson says. “They’re looking for anything where they can limit shutdowns by giving the components more intelligence.”

Although the EN 954-1 standard is easier and cheaper to work with, it did not sufficiently consider programmable electronic systems or the failure probability of components, and it is commonly considered deficient for use with complex or very hazardous equipment. The two new standards, on the other hand, are based on the concept of functional safety, and consider all safety-relevant functions and areas of a machine.

“As discrete machine safety components have become more intricate and used in more complex applications, new standards are required to define emerging technologies and components,” Watson says. “The benefits here include a wider adoption of programmable safety components, faster identification and rectification of safety-related problems, and increased productivity due to reduced downtime.”

EN ISO 13849-1 and EN IEC 62061 also are both globally recognized international standards rather than just European. This makes it easier for machine builders to adhere to standards no matter where they are selling, without having to make regional changes, Watson notes.

Suppliers are improving ruggedization of their safety components as well, Watson says, noting increase protection against dust, water and shock, and the use of more solid-state components so that the machinery isn’t shut down accidentally.

And safety is working to keep up with the speed of automation. “The speed’s increasing, but it still needs to be safe,” Watson says.

One way to achieve this is to integrate safety with standard control components. “It’s much more of a focus now, particularly from the larger automation component suppliers. Siemens and Rockwell have just one PLC looking at the safety side and standard control.” The same is happening on the networking side, he adds, with B&R Industrial Automation, for example, pushing safety buses as part of the standard automation control network, so there are no issues with compatibility. “I think that will only increase,” Watson says.

More News:

  • Patent Dispute Settled Between Rockwell Automation and Beckhoff Automation

    Rockwell Automation's linear motor business, including its recent Jacobs Automation acquisition, has developed a substantial portfolio of patents comprising over 100 issued patents on linear motor technology alone.

  • Mergers, Acquisitions Alliances and Noteworthy News in Robotics

    Iten Industries, manufacturer of advanced composite components and materials headquartered in Ashtabula, Ohio, is now offering additive manufacturing and 3D printing services.

  • U.S. Economy Looks Up for Manufacturing Industries

    The August PMI is led by the highest recorded New Orders Index since April 2004, when it registered 67.1%.

  • ASME Forum Ignites 21st-Century Engineering

    Founder and president of HMI/SCADA software developer Iconics, Russ Agrusa, said the company is focusing on how to harness big data on any device and in any class of applications, and turn it into predictive analytics in manufacturing and business intelligence.

  • New Customer Care Center for Endress+Hauser

    To help customers keep up with today's challenges, Endress+Hauser's new, state-of-the-art Customer Center is suited to greet visitors with a top-notch certified training facility with multiple classrooms and its largest yet PTU controlled by Rockwell Automation's PlantPAx system for real-world process simulation with over 120 measuring points.

  • The Rise of Aluminum in the Industrial Sector

    It is not just price that makes aluminum appealing when put alongside copper in the production of items like electrical wires and cables, though.

  • Maverick Acquires CQS Innovation Expanding Process Expertise in the Life Sciences Industry

    The acquisition expands Maverick's size and scale as a global organization with 19 office locations and 500+ engineering professionals. In addition, Chris Roerig, current president of CQS Innovation, will join Maverick as industry manager for life sciences.

  • ISA Offers Cybersecurity Certificate Program

    The program consists of passing a course on using the ANSI/ISA-62443 standards to secure industrial control systems. The course is available in the classroom or online. Students must also pass a written exam in the classroom or online.

  • Fieldbus Groups 'Unite'

    The combined power of both organizations will aim to protect the investments that end users in process automation have made in HART and Foundation fieldbus communication technologies.

  • Guess Who Just Turned 125 Years Old?

    ABB recently celebrated its 125th anniversary in Finland.

All news »

What are your comments?

Join the discussion today. Login Here.

Comments

No one has commented on this page yet.

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments