Regardless of the severity, industrial accidents are tragic, since most are avoidable. Repeated safety violations and industrial accidents across the globe suggest that manufacturers are under immense pressure to meet production goals. The challenge is that many brownfield operations and small to medium size manufacturers have not implemented effective machine safeguarding measures. A large majority of installed machines in brownfield operations do not comply with the latest safety regulations.
This also suggests that these same manufacturers may not understand the business benefits of safeguarding the workforce. Manufacturers often continue to operate a production machine disregarding safety because they may not be aware of the associated business benefits. However, the industry has entered an age in which production machinery that is safe to operate, flexible and highly reliable can also help increase productivity. While these design goals are challenging for machine builders, they are not unachievable. Safeguarding has a reputation for increasing cycle times or creating nuisance faults. But the latest innovations in machine safeguarding have focused on eliminating these concerns.
Working More Effectively in the Envelope of the Machine
Progressive manufacturers are embracing the value proposition of safer, flexible and highly reliable machinery, but they do not have the internal resources to respond as many have downsized internal engineering operations. These manufacturers are now reaching out to the machine builders and automation suppliers to fill this void. As machine builders continue to integrate more automated subsystems for either material handling or automated changeover, the trend is not simply to isolate the workspace from the operator. In contrast, machine builders now utilize safety solutions that allow operators to work more effectively within the work envelope of the machine. Current safety standards allow configurable safety systems to be integrated directly into automation systems that include safety PLCs, servo drives, and AC drives. This embedded functionality makes it possible for machine builders to incorporate safety strategies that also improve operator productivity.
ARC has just published a comprehensive updated market analysis report on machine safeguarding solutions that provides a quantitative assessment of the market and associated analysis. While the report is primarily focused at supporting the strategic planning efforts of current and prospective suppliers, it includes much information that end user organizations would find helpful, including both technology and industry trends and information about the leading suppliers.
About ARC Advisory Group (www.arcweb.com): Founded in 1986, ARC Advisory Group is a Boston based leading technology research and advisory firm for industry and infrastructure.
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About the Author:
Research Director Discrete Automation
Sal is part of the Discrete Automation team at ARC. His responsibilities include studies in the Worldwide CNC, North American General Motion Control, and Servo Drive markets.
Sal's focus areas include General Motion Control, Material Handling, Machine Safeguarding, Computer Numerical Controllers, Robotics, and Servo Drives.