For manufacturers across every industry, the pressure to comply with increasing safety legislation is acute. Managers sometimes view this as adding to a company's costs and hindering productivity. However, the message from Rockwell Automation is that a holistic approach to machinery safety can actually help to increase productivity and deliver a defined return on investment while contributing to the safety of operators and the plant in general.
Demonstrating the close links between safety and efficiency, Rockwell Automation is introducing a suite of Machinery Safety Services that can help manufacturers carry out risk assessments, identify hazards, optimise guarding design and performance, improve productivity, and integrate standard and safety control systems.
Rockwell Automation EMEA safety consultant Tim Hall comments: "A general perception in industry is that fast, efficient production and safe production do not mix. Increased production targets invariably lead to safety systems being overridden, and that is the road to disaster. But what we are saying at Rockwell Automation with our Machine Safety Services is that if manufacturers take a more rounded approach to safety rather than simply doing the minimum needed to achieve compliance, there can be huge benefits in operational efficiency."
With overall equipment efficiency (OEE) now the primary measure of productivity for many manufacturers, the holistic approach to safety promoted by Rockwell Automation can help to increase uptime and availability. This is done by taking into account the different modes of operation of machinery, by developing integrated safety systems that can decide if and when to stop or only stop the parts of the machine that represent a hazard, by identifying areas where greater efficiencies can be built into machine systems, and by building in vastly improved diagnostics capabilities.
The full suite of Machine Safety Services from Rockwell Automation includes hazard assessment, risk assessment, safety circuit analysis, safety systems and integration services, guarding, safety system validation, production floor safety system support, product training and custom training.
Through effective hazard assessment, Rockwell Automation safety consultants can evaluate a manufacturer's equipment, identify guarding deficiencies and recommend machine guarding that is compliant with current safety standards and designed to help meet production and maintenance needs.
A thorough risk assessment can lead a manufacturer's safety team through the globally recognised risk assessment process and offer guidance on a wide range of risk reduction techniques that encompass process redesign, guarding awareness, training, administrative requirements and personal protection equipment (PPE).
Safety circuit analysis
Safety circuit analysis covers verification of the design against the applicable standards, including EN 954-1, IEC 62061 and EN ISO 13849-1. This service provides a documented review of the safety circuit and a letter of compliance.
Safety systems and integration services
Safety systems and integration services deliver effective safety systems that are tightly integrated with the standard control system to provide a seamless transfer of control information and diagnostic data throughout the enterprise. The close links between the Machine Safety Services and the standard control design services within Rockwell Automation allow the company to help meet a wide range of customer needs, from a few individual components up to complete turnkey solutions.
As part of its safety product offering, Rockwell Automation has the capability to evaluate machine guarding requirements and manufacture tailored guarding, encompassing all the mechanical and control-related aspects of the project.
Safety system validation
Safety system validation is a service for developing the validation protocol and performing the validation to document that the safety system is installed and functioning properly. This is a key step in any machinery safety project. The protocol can be used to revalidate the system if any changes or repairs are made to it throughout its lifecycle.
Production floor safety system support
When support is required for production floor product troubleshooting, Rockwell Automation field engineers are trained to help diagnose the issues relating to the system problems, and can also assist in safety PLC troubleshooting and programming.
Rockwell Automation safety consultants are specialists in providing training for maintenance, safety component application, and safety and standard PLC programming.
Machine safety training can cover a variety of topics relating to machine safety and circuit design, and can be customised based on a manufacturer's individual requirements. Training can encompass relevant machinery safety standards, risk assessment, hazard assessment and safety system validation.
Hall comments: "The Machine Safety Services have a major overall impact of the machine, its uses, its maintenance, and the management of all those functions. They help deliver safety in compliance with all national and international standards (ie EN, ISO and IEC safety standards), yet boost manufacturing efficiency at the same time."
A typical example is a safe motion system, which can slow the machine to a safe level in the event of a problem instead of stopping it completely. The result is increased uptime and reduced material wastage that is often associated with a complete shutdown. As a further example, by closely integrating the safety control and standard control aspects, diagnostics information generated by the safety control system is available across the enterprise, allowing engineers to help pinpoint faults. At the same time, a zoned approach to safety means that only the area of the plant where the hazard exist need be affected – all other zones can maintain production.