innovative industrial switch uses biometric fingerprint-recognition technology
to restrict employee access to sensitive areas and machine functions. The HarmonyTM
biometric switch from Schneider Electric operates as a stand-alone device that
can be interfaced to a wide variety of controllers and is designed specifically
for industrial environments.
"Until now, this type of technology has not
been available for use in industrial settings due to the often extreme
conditions found in the plant," says Selin Yilmaz, pushbutton product manager
for Schneider Electric.
says since the biometric switch operates stand-alone, so there's no need for a
supplementary interface, USB cable or port. It can be mounted in a standard 22
mm pushbutton cut-out and connected quickly using bared wires or an M12
switch offers options to be connected to a PLC, HMI, relay, drives or a motion
controller using a 200 mA PNP output. As long as the device takes the maximum
200 mA current, it can be connected using any 24V dc power supply. It is designed
to be a simple product for interior machine access control or specific secured
areas such as a tool shop.
says the biometric switch basically operates using a camera capture of a
fingerprint. When a fingerprint is initially installed in the device, it takes
at least three touches because the system captures the fingerprint, analyzes it
through mathematical processing and then compares the previous two to insure
the fingerprint using general biometrics technology.
operation, the switch reads fingerprint patterns to verify that someone is
authorized to access sensitive areas and machine functions through an anonymous
process in which fingerprints serve only to authorize access, not confirm an
individual's identity. Yilmaz says fingerprint readers have been shown to be
more effective and efficient than other security systems, and they can also
save money long-term.
readers unlike passwords, swipe cards or pin numbers can't be lost, stolen, borrowed,
guessed or forgotten. She says industry experts estimate that up to 40 percent
of all calls to IT help desks stem from password problems, and the average cost
of each call ranges from $10 to $31.
has two operating modes:† on-off mode or
pulse mode for momentary action. Authentication takes less than 1 sec, and the
false acceptance rate is less than 0.1 percent. The switches can also store up
to 200 fingerprints, including several fingers from the same operator, for
additional flexibility and precision.
biometric switch was initially developed as a replacement for electromechanical
options such as key switches but biometric offers a different option because
keys can be lost and fingerprints can also be used to provide password access. "We
went along with the replacement key switch idea and expanded it to the other markets
where it can be useful," says Yilmaz.
first person programmed into the biometric becomes the administrator. The
administrator can add or delete users, but users are the only ones that can
control the output of the biometric switch. It provides an enhancement over a
key switch because of the added security, plus it is not as expensive as other
biometric readers that come with a controller and are also used for other
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