Yes, and there is also a lot of confusion about what integrated safety actually means. Is it on the same cable, but separate? That's a common solution. Run it on the same bus, but it is actually separate from control. That gives you efficiency while you still get church/state separation. The big vendors are now offering true integration of safety and control. Apparently that allows for more diagnostics and even greater efficiency. For some control engineers, however, this makes the hair on the back of the neck stand up.
I agree with you 100% Sgt Rock. We not only need industry wide standards we need a common understanding (training?) on what those standards are. I've been in a number of situations where a customer will quote some version of a safety standard as mandatory but have no clue what it means or what options are to be included.
I agree that the use of integrated safety systems is gaining both acceptance and use but I believe that it is still in it's infancy. This concept is a true blessing to both the manufacturer and the end user. Unfortunately I also believe that this causes a great deal confusion for that end user when they move towards implementation. Most of the confusion is caused during the interpretation of the safety statutes and regulations. This results from the differing expectations of the many governmental agencies involved. As an industry we need to work together and push for standardized regulations which ideally would include the many wonderful concepts and innovations listed in the article. Why is it acceptable in one country to have an e-stop located inside a safety enclosure; say, for a robotic palletizer, but it's not okay here in the USA. Agreeably I don't think it makes good sense to have it located there, but again there needs to be an industry wide push for standardization so that we can take advantage of these tools.
Integrated safety has come a long way to acceptance in just the last few years. The city/state separation between safety and motion control has broken down, which frees plant managers to deploy more efficient systems.
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
With strong marketplace demand for qualified engineers across the board that currently outstrips the available supply, there may never be a better time for engineers and project managers to advance their careers and salaries. Whether those moves are successful in the short-term and long-term is likely to depend on how the transition from one job to the next is handled.
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