Light curtain saves time and safeguards worker wellbeing

Light curtains can be the last line of defence in a food and beverage manufacturing plant, especially in operations that require cutting, chopping and packaging of produce.

Jack Wheatley is the product manager for safety, sensing and signalling for NHP, an electrical engineering company that specialise in electrical and automation products, system and solutions. NHP offer unique products such as Allen Bradley GuardShield light curtains that help to improve the safety in food and beverage manufacturing plants. He knows how they can be used best within factories that produce food and beverages.

The Allen Bradley GuardShield range of light curtains has a few special features that are designed to make them not only cost-effective, but also reduce the investment required in maintaining spare parts.

Typically, a light curtain is used on machinery or production lines where regular access is required. Operators don’t want to be restricted by having to constantly open and close guards. They want to have access to the area, whether it is during production or during a downtime.

Being a transceiver and receiver, many light curtain installations require two separate light curtain sticks. The Allen Bradley GuardShield curtain leverages patented plug in transceiver technology where each stick can be used as a transmitter or receiver via the innovative plug-in modules.

“The concept of this design is to minimise on parts required,” said Wheatley.

“This new design reduces the number of parts required and will allow customers to better maintain production facilities with fewer spare parts. Additionally, for a supplier to keep stock, it’s about having the ability to hold a single length curtain, plug in module, and better service the market.

“Additionally, the patented plug design has embedded functions which are configured quickly and easily via DIP switches or software, significantly reducing engineering effort. These include: muting, blanking, start mode, external device monitoring (EDM) and scanning ranges” said Wheatley.

Another feature that Wheatley has highlighted is the laser alignment capabilities, which give the user an enhanced Integrated Laser Alignment System (ILAS) for quick installation and reliable operation.

“This cuts installation alignment labour time significantly, which is a significant benefit across multiple installs,” said Wheatley. “Prior to having this embedded technology, it was a tedious task for customers”.

Wheatley said that the most exciting feature is the Allen Bradley GuardShield being the first safety light curtains on the market to be Ethernet-enabled.

“With the release of the 450L-ENETR Ethernet adapter, detailed diagnostics and status information will be conveniently available to customers when integrating into a networked PLC system,” said Wheatley.

“At NHP, we understand that all equipment as part of a food or beverages manufacturing process is critical to its operation and maintenance crews require reliable components along with product support. This is one of NHP’s key values when going to market,” said Wheatley.

“NHP has a product technical phone service that all customers can access for engineering support,” he said. Further to that, Rockwell Automation, who manufacture the product, also have a paid service technical support hotline.

The units come in different lengths ranging from 150mm up to 1950mm – in multiples of 150mm in both 30mm and 14mm resolutions. There are no dead spots (passive zones) at the top or bottom of the stick, which means they can be installed inside a machine frame and do not have be mounted outside/on the machine like a traditional light curtain system.

Smart switchboards maximise power availability

Today’s modern power distribution systems need to evolve to ensure that organisations can improve energy efficiency, reduce operating costs and improve switchroom safety.

With such a large install base of aging legacy switchgear installed around the country, there is a continual need to review and assess the safety and reliability of this equipment to ensure that a business will not be left without power, or worse, experience a catastrophic failure that can potentially cause injury to employees.

Globally, health and safety regulators who investigate catastrophic electrical incidences have recognised that the pressure to avoid power shutdowns results in the neglect and deterioration of key electrical infrastructure like main switchboards and the critical components contained within them.

Over time, this neglect can cause failures due to switchgear contact corrosion, loose busbar connections and blocked air ventilation, leading to overheating and fire hazards. Conventional circuit breakers with electronic trip units do not offer any form of protection against overheating in the conductive path.

Within the context of an industrial plant’s electrical infrastructure, the widespread deployment of smart, connected devices allows end users to utilise smarter switchboard architecture to facilitate gathering and analysing critical data and provide real-time visibility and insight into how critical assets are performing.

This integrated solution can provide organisations with faster, more accurate information and enable them to make the right business decisions on optimising utilisation and extending the life time of their power distribution infrastructure.

Smarter switchboard architecture can help ensure continuity of power supply, minimise the service requirements of critical switchgear assets (such as circuit breakers) and enable real-time “maintenance health” visualisation over a plant’s network.

Imagine there is a tier 4 data centre that provides 99.995 per cent availability per year to its customers. To maintain such a high level of uptime/availability, the data centre’s power and cooling design requires layers of redundancy. Furthermore, it has to have the ability to monitor the integrity of critical infrastructure. Any unplanned downtime will bring financial consequences and dissatisfied customers.

The low voltage switchboard contains a Smart Switchboard containing Terasaki TemPower2 air circuit breakers with integrated 3C overheating protection and data communication.

The data centre’s Monitoring and Control Centre uses a visualisation health dashboard to monitor and report on mission critical intelligent devices.

Due to a “maintenance issue”, the forced cooling system in the switchroom starts to blow dust particles into the low voltage switchboard. Some of these contaminates eventually make their way inside one of the low-voltage air circuit breakers internal contact system.
Over time, the electrical continuity of the air circuit breaker’s main contacts reduces due to the contamination and an abnormal contact overheating occurs.

Fortunately, the air circuit-breaker’s 3C overheating protection detects the abnormal temperature within the contact set and activates the overheating alarm, which is detected by the health dashboard. Electrical maintenance contractors are notified and they rectified the issue.

NHP celebrates 50 years in business

Established in 1968, founder Nigel Hugh Peck (NHP) started NHP Electrical Engineering Products with the promise to provide the electrical engineering marketplace with first-class products, systems and solutions.

As NHP enters its 50th year of operations, the company remains true to Peck’s vision and is proud of its heritage of being an independent 100 per cent Australian-owned and operated business. Today, NHP continues with the promise of providing customers with the local choice from a large product range supported by global partners.

With the worldwide influence constantly impacting the Australian and New Zealand markets, NHP recognises that finding the balance between having a local presence and leveraging off global innovations is the key to assuming a successful place in both markets.
“It’s the local touch that sets NHP apart from the global competition. Not only do we provide local jobs across Australia and New Zealand, we have established a network of metro and regional locations that ensure our people, products and services are available where and when you need them,” said Stephen Coop, managing director and CEO of NHP.
Over the last 50 years, NHP has been instrumental in contributing to some iconic marquee projects such as Melbourne Cricket Ground, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, BHP Jimblebar Mine, Adelaide Airport, Royal New Zealand Navy, Reliance Rail, South Australia Water and Nestle.

In the modern, digitised world, with disruption regularly occurring in industry, the ongoing success of NHP has been driven by the company’s focus on “customer first”. This value has rung true since 1968 when Peck instilled that NHP would be a “people business dedicated to good customer service”. This is a legacy that proudly continues today.

“The most essential element in the ‘solutions’ mix, is NHP’s quality team. No matter how good a product may be, it is nothing without dedicated people to supply, service and support that product. People are, and have always been, NHP’s greatest asset,” Coop commented.

Integral to NHP’s customer promise of quality and reliable products, is its network of global partners that enable it to bring the world’s best products to the local market.
Earlier this year, the company expanded its automation portfolio with the recent acquisition of Rexel Industrial Automation’s (RIA) New South Wales and South East Queensland business assets related to the distribution and supply of Rockwell Automation products in those territories.

With the acquisition, NHP has been granted sole distributor rights for Rockwell Automation products, systems and solutions in the South Pacific including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea. This has been effective since the 1st of May 2018.

Throughout the formalisation process, NHP and Rexel Industrial Automation continued to trade as separate entities. At the same time, NHP was in constant contact with RIA customers throughout the month of April to ensure the seamless transition of products and services.

“We are proud and excited to be expanding our relationship with NHP across the South Pacific region as we work together to further enhance the efficiency of our customers, by delivering smarter, safer and more sustainable operational outcomes through Rockwell Automation’s Connected Enterprise solutions and by providing a simpler model to engage with our businesses,” said Scott Wooldridge, managing director Australia and New Zealand, Rockwell Automation.

Underpinned by NHP’s partnership with Rockwell Automation, and in combination with the company’s extensive range of complimentary product portfolios, NHP brings together technical knowledge and expertise of the products and systems to develop integrated value-add solutions that are tailored for the local market.

Confidence is instilled with the company’s product and solution offering through a suite of personable service and support across Australia and New Zealand. With an ongoing commitment to continuously evolve and expand its innovative portfolio, NHP’s aim is to make its customers’ path to success easier and it looks forward to doing just that for many years to come.