Joe Feeley was Editor in Chief of Control Design and Industrial Networking magazines. He joined Putman Media in 1997 to help start up Control Design. He has more than 20 years of engineering and management experience in the U.S. and Europe in industries that include high-purity semiconductor products and other specialty materials that required direct involvement with the associated machine designers.
Engineers often would follow the painful process of printing out machinery layout drawings; drawing hard and movable guarding; identifying and drawing potentially hazardous access points; identifying required safety functions; selecting safety input, output and logic devices; and calculating the achieved system performance. This resulted in a hand-written list of required materials, a hand-drawn guarding solution and handwritten safety calculations that engineers had to transfer into formal documents, drawings and reports.
To help, Rockwell Automation is releasing Safety Automation Builder (SAB), a free software tool; and Safety Functions, a group of pre-engineered complete safety solutions.
"The free SAB software automates this process with a powerful yet intuitive user interface that helps designers save time and gain confidence to verify that a safety system meets all requirements," explains Chris Brogli, business development manager for safety, Rockwell Automation. "SAB also facilitates training by letting users simulate development of applications such as hard guarding, input/output devices, control systems and connectivity."
SAB guides users through a step-by-step development process by asking questions via a drop-down menu and help screens. "Screen 1 of SAB allows you to import, name and describe a machinery image," Brogli says. "Screen 2 helps create hard and movable guards, zones and hazard locations. Screen 3 helps you create potentially hazardous access points and safety functions to address the hazards for each access point. Screen 4 helps select the best input, output and logic devices to achieve each safety function."
This information populates a SISTEMA1 project file, ProposalWorks (software that assists with product selection), and a bill of materials graphically depicted on the machinery. This provides a user with a completed layout drawing and a bill of materials with pricing. It also indicates the attained safety performance level (PL) for each safety function.
"This automated process follows the conventional design steps, but can eliminate hours of searching through catalogs, making layout drawings, doing performance calculations, getting proposals and gathering data," Brogli says. "SAB helps eliminate errors, omissions and miscalculations, and helps users generate compliant safety configurations quickly, easily and accurately."
The Safety Functions are pre-engineered building blocks that help users build a complete machinery safety system by providing detailed information for each safeguarding method, including its specific functionality, PL, and required input, logic and output components. "The Safety Functions include all design documents needed to implement a safety system, including a description of the safety function, a description of operations, parts lists, electrical drawings, a SISTEMA project file, and verification and validation plans," Brogli explains. "A user selects the safety functions needed and combines them to design a complete safety system using the pre-engineered documents."
SAB will be available in February 2013. Safety Functions roll out in three phases, with the first six of a planned 24 available now. Each of the Safety Functions has a safety relay (Guardmaster) version and a programmable safety controller (GuardLogix) version for the safety logic element.
1. IFA's Safety Integrity Software Tool for the Evaluation of Machine Applications (SISTEMA) automates calculation of the attained PL of the safety-related parts of a machine's control system.