The trend toward safety networks aboard Ethernet has continued to grow significantly. It is now getting integrated into the control network, and safety devices and safety systems are becoming more compact, easier to program, and, in many cases, more cost-effective.
Integrated safety comes with a number of benefits, many of which are highlighted in the slideshow below. Safety standards can be integrated within the system, including those that validate the system to meet regulations such as the recent European machinery directive. These often require validation that can be programmed into the safety software.
While safety networks have become more complex, they have actually become simpler and easier for plant operators to deploy. The simple user interfaces help to reduce implementation time, thus reducing costs. While the software and networks are easier for the user, they have grown in scale and complexity to include tools such as diagnostics and prognostics.
Machine safety has also seen advances. Safety networks are helping to reduce collisions through the use of electronic safety curtains and virtual safety walls. The machinery is also isolated in its safety pocket so a shutdown due to a break in the safety curtain shuts down the individual machine, not the entire line.
Click the image below to start the slideshow.
Siemens' TIA Portal
Siemens created a Safety Advanced program within its TIA (totally integrated automation) portal. The goal is to help users integrate safety functions into standard automation processes. The safety feature was designed for intuitive operation and quick entry in the generation of fail-safe programs. The library concept was created to simplify the validation of safety-oriented applications. (Source: Siemens)
Rob, Clearly safety as a software task is a growing approach but there are still many hardware and software options. Simpler machines (low axis and I/O count) may have different needs than much more complex systems. But the trend is clearly safety more tightly integrated into the control software than ever before. Also the suppliers of safety relays, safety PLCs also are providing new solutions. Should be an interesting area of automation and control as we move ahead.
Good points, Apresher. I, too, have noticed that safety is no longer a separate system that works as a burden on the automation system. Now it is integrated into control and it has become one more factor that improves uptime. I remember there was resistance to the blend of control and safety networks at first, but now it seems that the blend of safety and control networks is pretty much fully accepted.
Along with regulations that are forcing new safety standards for machine builders, there is a changing mindset with safety. Safety implementing on one controller, one network is making machine safety an exciting technology area for automation and control innovation. One of the biggest advantages of "integrated safety" is much better diagnostics. In the past, machine and safety controls were separate from each other. Safety is not viewed as a requirement anymore for many machines, but a way to improve their machine's functionality that provides a competitive advantage. With printing machines, for example, it's a huge benefit if the end user can keep the machines running while refining the process or addressing potential safety issues. Software developments and redundant processing make this a very interesting area.
OK The writer may have a contract software job to produce product that he/she may or may not pass rights to others to use. If the software works well it may be lawfully or otherwise code copied. embedded, used for different purposes or transfered and reapear in totally different products or different manufactures arround the world.
That's amazing, Rob. I wonder if those stamping machines enjoy the same legal situation as table saws, i.e., "use it at your own risk." In legal cases involving table saws, lwyers hav traditionally argued that users understand the propensity of sharp to edges to cut.
You're right about that, Chuck. I worked briefly at a stamping plant that had stamping machines that required you push two button to activate the stamp action -- thus making sure your hands were out of the way. However, if you didn't hold the sheet metal in position, there were stamping errors. So, they asked employees to hold the metal in position and push one of the two buttons with your forehead.
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