By Andy Gagnon, Product Manager and Ryan Miller, Product Management Specialist, Rockwell Automation
If you still only view safety simply as a matter of compliance, you’re missing the bigger picture in these times of smart manufacturing.
Smart, networked safety can give you measurable business benefits. And it can push the boundaries of what’s possible in your operations.
Low-voltage AC drives with integrated safety are a perfect example of what networked safety can do. When connected to a safety programmable automation controller (PLC) over Ethernet®, they can give you more insights into your operations, reduce system wiring and components, and add precious minutes back to production. And yes, they can also help you be compliant — and maybe even reduce safety risks.
To put this in context of the bottom line, here are five business cases for using AC drives with integrated safety.
1. Increased Productivity
Lockout/tagout (LOTO) has been a core element of industrial safety. But it also can constrain productivity.
AC drives with integrated safety let you to use safety functions in place of LOTO procedures in certain instances. Safety functions — such as safe limited speed, safe torque off and safe brake control — can help your workers service equipment in a fraction of the time and still be compliant.
Consider a task such as cleaning augers and rotating drums. Using LOTO procedures, workers must continually start and stop the assets to clean them. Safety functions such as safe limited speed and safe direction lets worker clean the equipment while it rotates at a slow speed.
2. Enhanced Safety
Workers sometimes bypass LOTO procedures to stay productive. That creates serious safety risks. AC drives with safety functions that help workers to more quickly service machines can reduce incentives for bypassing safety procedures.