Fortress Interlocks is integrating AS-interface (AS-i) and PROFIsafe (PROFIbus Safety or PROFInet Safety) connectivity into its tGard customisable interlock and control devices and amGardpro modular interlocks. The company is also developing non-contact switches and output signal switching devices that can be incorporated into its tGard and amGardpro units.
Most interlocks are either not electrically connected (deliberately so in the case of some mechanical, trapped key interlocks) or are 'wired at gate' meaning that all electrical connections go via a control PLC and safety relay. This can mean up to 20 wires from each device need to be connected to the control panel.
To save time and reduce the risk of wiring errors, Fortress has developed a number of products that utilise either AS-i industrial networking or PROFIsafe communication technology. Both have major benefits:
- AS-i is an industrial networking platform used in PLC, DCS and PC-based automation systems. It is designed to connect simple field I/O devices in manufacturing or process applications using a single two-conductor cable. AS-i connectivity reduces the number of wires required, making it possible, for example, to 'daisy chain' up to 62 devices to one control panel
- PROFIsafe is a safety communication technology for distributed automation. It is designed as a separate layer on top of the fieldbus application layer to reduce the probability of data transmission errors. It allows operators to have just one power and Ethernet cable going from the control panel, enabling devices to be attached in a variety of topologies, depending on requirements
Fortress is now integrating AS-i and/or PROFIsafe connectivity into the following safety products and over the coming months the following will be available:
- Both the tGard and amGardpro ranges will have AS-i networking
- The amGardpro is to be offered with PROFIsafe
- A new standalone Non-Contact Switch with an AS-i version is in development; this will also be integrated into the tGard and amGardpro ranges in the future
- An Output Signal Switching Device (OSSD) will be incorporated into the tGard and amGardpro ranges
Fortress Interlocks' Managing Director Rob Lewis comments: "Making our products compatible with industrial safety networks is an essential requirement for our customers. With these new product developments being rolled out over the coming few months we are ensuring we not only meet, but exceed what people expect from us when it comes to industrial networking."