When it comes to machinery safety, standards compliance is often the primary concern for OEMs. But as studies have shown, best-in-class manufacturers that think beyond simple compliance have achieved half the injury rate of average performers, 5 to 7 percent higher OEE and 2 to 4 percent less unscheduled downtime.
"Compliance alone won't necessarily add value,” said Eric Hendrickson, engineering manager for Bevcorp, an Ohio-based rotary filler and labeling machine builder and winner in the Rockwell Automation 2014 Manufacturing Safety Excellence Awards. “Compliance is the minimum. You have to understand the responsibility between the end user and the OEM, conduct effective risk assessments, and use accepted methodologies."
In the past, industry made its own decisions on how to protect machines and workers, Hendrickson said. Companies could choose to meet the bare-minimum compliance levels or go beyond to provide more advanced safety equipment. But safety standards have evolved and are evolving further, and Hendrickson advises his fellow OEMs to embrace the more stringent standards.
It may not seem long ago that the more advanced ISO 13849 performance level (PL) model and IEC 62061 safety integrity level (SIL) model replaced the relatively simple EN 954 machinery safety categories. The two standards that replaced EN 954 are more complex in nature but incorporate important advances in safety technologies that allow OEMs to address safety needs while providing opportunities to improve productivity.
Now change is coming again as the IEC/ISO 17305 safety standard is expected to take effect in 2017. The new standard, a merger of ISO 13849 and IEC 62061, will finally give OEMs a single global safety standard. OEMs will be able to clarify and simplify some of the issues they've encountered while trying to comply with two similar but separate sets of rules.
While it's possible the standard may actually not be finalized until 2018, OEMs should be focused on understanding the existing ISO 13849 and IEC 62061 now to help ease the transition to IEC/ISO 17305. Doing so can help them make their multinational safety-compliance processes more cost effective. It can also help them better understand the latest programmable safety technologies that can support compliance yet also help them build better-performing and more internationally competitive machinery.
Part of this article was originally published on ControlGlobal.com.