Build a Safer Machine

Oct. 2, 2008
Learn How to Avoid Falling into the Bad Habit of Overlooking Procedures and Standards
About the Author
Katherine Bonfante is senior digital editor for Control and ControlDesign. You can email her at [email protected] or check out her Google+ profile.When it comes to being safe, automation professionals have many different ways to protect their machines and factories. Not interrupting plant production and ensuring the optimal operation of all machinery is important. However, automation professionals are guilty, sometimes without knowing it, of overlooking safety procedures and standards.

Control Design publishes articles on safety-related issues that can help machine builders and automation professionals with machine safety questions. If you haven’t saved every issue of our magazine, don’t worry. These articles are available to you on our website. Take some time to visit us online at to learn about safety standards or to refresh your memory with some of our safety articles.

White Papers

The Next Evolution in Motion Networking
Examining the value benefits of a wireless approach and concerns of safety, reliability and latency.

Ethernet and AS-Interface
See how AS-Interface connects with Ethernet.

Circuit Breakers and Supplementary Protectors’ Standards
A clear understanding of UL standards and requirements that design engineers can use.

Special to the Web

Head of the Pack
The 2008 roster of fast companies that are winners in our annual Readers’ Choice Awards has grown. Check out the victors at

Senior Technical Editor Dan Hebert recently wrote “Proceed With Caution.” In it, he discusses machine safety designs and how these should be easy to operate and maintain. Dan says that designing safe machines means making realistic assumptions that anticipate an operator’s reaction to potentially hazardous situations. The article touches on steps to follow when designing a safe machine. It emphasizes the importance of understanding safety standards and applying these standards to the machine design, and it explains the necessity of testing the finished product on different scenarios to ensure the machine’s safety.

There are different test methods that you can use to validate the safety of your machine. “Will This Machine Work?” also written by Dan, reviews the advantages and disadvantages of different testing methods, such as software emulation, hardware simulation, prototyping and beta testing at customers’ sites.

Cyberattack is another area in which automation professionals should be prepared to defend both their machine safety and their plant safety. Industrial Networking columnist John Rezabek wrote “Consider the Consequences of a Cyberattack,” in which he asks readers to take a good look at their plants and safety systems. Understanding how much of a target you and your plant could be is the first step toward preparing for a cyberattack.

An area that many machine builders and automation professionals struggle with is the cost of obtaining the latest copy of safety standards that are necessary to build any machine. ISDTech Chief Software Architect Scott Gee takes a look at the cost of safety standard documentation in his article, “Why Is Safety Information So Pricey?” Machine builders must prepare prior to designing a machine prototype, and Gee says standards such as UL 508 and UL 508A can easily cost a machine builder from $450 to $600 each. Why, he asks, should any machine builder pay so much for these documents?

You can read the full version of these articles and many more on our site. Browse to and learn about the latest articles, news, white papers and safety-related products.