Not all mergers work, but the coming together of two Machinery Safety Standards has great potential to streamline and clarify previous grey areas. It seems like a convoluted journey from the old EN 954: Safety and related part of control systems through to IEC 62061: Safety related electrical, electronic and programmable electronic control systems. This was followed by the fully revised (EN) ISO 13849, and now we can look forward to IEC/ISO 17305.
The target date for adopting the new Standard has been set as 2016 with transition to be in place until 2018. The proposed merged Standard is sure to make life clearer and easier but there will be changes to make, and the sooner we all get under the skin of the new Standard the better.
Outside the European Union it may not be immediately obvious. With many national Standards sharing provisions with ISO and IEC versions, and these adopted around the world, this commonality helps eliminate technical barriers to global trade. Also, given the pace of development of contemporary intelligent electronic and programmable safety, it's less a case of having to catch up with the Standards, more that the Standards needed to be updated to reflect what is actually in place.
It's not expected that there will be new methodologies or formulae to contend with, and migration is a well-worn path that we have navigated before. Compared to the EN 954-1 to (EN) ISO 13849 migration this next step will be a more agreeable experience altogether.
So we should be looking forward to embracing the merger; two will be better than one for sure – it's been a long road from simple Standards that restricted the technology it enabled to a position where there is greater confidence to embrace new technology. Now we can replace complication with consolidation and a simpler, more effective regime.
A further white paper on the merger of (EN) ISO 13849 and IEC 62061 can be downloaded here.