Manufacturers and machine builders have a variety of responsibilities when designing a safety system, including conducting a risk assessment, maintaining compliance with evolving safety standards, and determining which safeguards are most appropriate.
And they must do all this while retaining the machine's productivity and keeping in mind their own design time and costs.
If this sounds familiar to your experience, know that some relief exists.
A wide range of design tools and productivity-enhancing technologies are available that can help engineers design high-quality machines with the proper safety technologies while also controlling their design costs.
Let's look at three of them:
- The Safety Automation Builder is a free tool that can help engineers streamline their safety system design process and assist with verifying that the system meets current safety requirements.
To begin, users can create a project name, add a description and import layout drawings for the safety design process.
From there, they can click and drag icons to create safety zones, control panels and hazards, as well as identify physical guarding locations and access points where operators will interact with the machine.
They can then create individual safety functions and select input, output and logic devices, and finally export the list of safety functions to SISTEMA for design verification.
The tool generates a bill of materials that includes part numbers, descriptions, typical delivery times and quantities of products.
- Pre-engineered Safety Function documents provide a building block approach for designing different safeguarding methods. This can help engineers better manage the various elements that make up safety functions and ultimately shave time off the specification, design and testing processes, especially for large and complex machines that require multiple safety functions.
Each Safety Function documentation package includes a description of the safety function, electrical schematic, bill of material, configuration and programming examples, SISTEMA verification calculation, and validation test plan.
They are available for safety relay-based control, programmable safety control or integrated safety control applications, giving engineers greater flexibility to choose whichever is the most appropriate for their machines.
- Contemporary safety technologies, such as integrated safety controllers and drives that combine standard and safety control into a single package can simplify programming and reduce development times for safety systems. While integrated safety may not be cost-effective for some smaller machines, it can reduce engineering time for larger, more complex machines.
Integrated safety controllers and drives allow engineers to use one common programming environment in place of multiple software tools for configuring PLC, drive, I/O, motion and safety devices.
Program configuration is stored in one location instead of separate files, and auto-generation of tag names and data creates specific descriptions to minimize complexity and further reduce development time.
For a more in-depth look at improving productivity when designing machine safety systems and key issues to consider during the design process, check out this recently published article in Design World's Motion Control Tips.