Pilz New Safety Compendium - a review

18 November 2010

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Pilz New Safety Compendium - a reviewPilz describes its new New Safety Compendium as 'an orientation guide for the application of functional safety standards.' This book, which is around 200 pages long, also addresses the new Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC, control technology, safety-related communications and more. The ensuing review by Jon Severn, Editor of, looks at the book in more detail.

+++ STOP PRESS. There is now a Second Edition of the Pilz Safety Compendium +++

Although some of the world's foremost experts in machinery safety are employed by Pilz and its subsidiaries, the company has gone to the trouble of forming a committee so that the New Safety Compendium also benefits from the knowledge of an academic and lawyers specialising in product safety and liability. However, the text in the English version reads as if it has been translated from German, which does not help in making a difficult subject understandable.

Those who persevere with the text will find that it contains plenty of extremely useful information. Take, for instance, the comments in section 2.1, Standards, directives and laws in the European Union (EU), where it is explained that some standards have been harmonised 'through the back door' - the logic is that if a harmonised standard references another standard, that second standard is, by implication, also 'harmonised' in that it provides a presumption of conformity, even if it is not listed in the Official Journal of the EU.

Section 2.3 highlights the differences between the old and new Machinery Directives, with some helpful commentary to add insight (though a more extensive analysis is provided in the Guide to the New Machinery Directive 200642/EC).

Machinery safety standards

Section 2.4 provides an introduction to some of the machinery safety standards, with a particular emphasis - and more detailed consideration of - the functional safety standards ISO 13849-1 and IEC 62061 (or, as they are referenced in the UK, BS EN ISO 13849-1 and BS EN 62061). This section will be particularly beneficial for readers who are unfamiliar with machinery safety standards.

Machine builders and system integrators serving markets outside Europe will appreciate the information relating to standards and regulations in other geographical regions. Although the level of detail here is limited, readers should remember that Pilz, as an international company, has direct experience and knowledge of most markets, so can provide advice to customers as required.

Something that is seldom discussed yet is always an underlying issue is the subject of manipulation of safeguards. However, this is covered by section 3.4, where there is a discussion of the reasons for tampering as well as suggestions for what steps designers can take to reduce it.

As you would expect with a publication from Pilz, a substantial portion of the New Safety Compendium is devoted to safe control technology. Section 4 includes an introduction to the subject, plus a wealth of information about the different control technologies available on the market today.

Similarly, section 5 addresses safe communication technologies; three pages of basic principles are followed by 15 pages using SafetyBUS p and SafetyNET p as examples of safety fieldbus systems - but there is not even a passing mention of the other proprietary and open alternatives that are also available today.

In an effort to improve machine performance and availability the trend now is towards a greater use of safe motion control. The Pilz New Safety Compendium covers this topic in section 6, discussing the basic principles, IEC 61800-5-2 (Adjustable speed electrical power drive systems - Part 5-2: Safety requirements - Functional) and safety functions (such as safe stops, safe torque off, safe limited acceleration, safely limited speed, safe direction, etc). In addition, there is information about system examination and a series of illustrated examples.

Given the large amount of well-researched material within the Pilz New Safety Compendium, you can forgive its shortcomings; if you persevere with the translated-from-German style of English, and appreciate that there are other non-Pilz products and technologies available that are not mentioned in the book, then it is definitely worth obtaining a copy (editions in other languages are available from other Pilz offices around the world). Pilz is offering The New Safety Compendium as a free download from (Webcode 6018) or as a free printed book - telephone +44 (0)1536 460766 or email .

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