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The importance of safety in manufacturing

Safety is a key factor in every manufacturing business. Over the years, SMC Corporation Australia New Zealand (ANZ) have placed great emphasis on developing safety-focused solutions for customers in every industry.

Phil Pearce, OEM and key account manager and Certified Machine Safety Expert (CMSE) at SMC Corporation, said that offering compliant safety products is critical. “Achieving the required level of functional safety is a detailed task that must be undertaken by qualified engineers.”

SMC believes that worker safety and increased productivity forms part-and-parcel: “Through efficient design, you can reduce risk and increase productivity at the same time. SMC has developed a variety of safety related components that can be used in a safe pneumatic system.”

Five Steps to Safety
Pearce guides us through the five steps to safety – from the risk assessment right through to the safety function:

  1. Risk assessment: Customers looking to upgrade their safety processes should start with a risk assessment. “Whether you’re upgrading an existing system or designing an entirely new system, it all starts with a risk assessment. Here, potential hazards and risks are analysed as per ISO 12100. If elimination is not possible, then risk reduction is required. This involves evaluating all the operating states of the system: automatic mode, maintenance mode, cleaning, etc.”
  2. Risk reduction: “If you’re unable to eliminate all the risks in step 1, then ISO 12100 requires three further measures to reduce associated risks,” explains Phil. These include:
  • Inherent safe design: For some applications this can be achieved through a fixed orifice for the reduction of a cylinder’s velocity.
  • Technical protective measures: Guards, protective covers, access systems etc. are examples of such measures.
  • User information and training: Safety training, hazard symbols and instructions for use are examples of these.
  1. The control system as a component of risk reduction: If design-related solutions are insufficient, ISO 12100 requires the application of protective devices. “Performance requirements for pneumatic, mechanical, hydraulic, and electronic components all fall under ISO 13849.”
  2. Specifications of the machine’s safety functions: Such functions need to be specified, this includes defining actual safety functions such as safe positioning, safe venting, and prevention of an unexpected start-up. In the case of a fault, reaction measures should be specified. The Performance Level (PL) requirement should be further mapped out using risk-graphs.
  3. Determining the achieved PL: The evaluation of a safety system requires a PL and is determined by various factors. “These include systematic failures, safety related software and response of safety functions under fault conditions etc,” said Phil.

Safety solutions for peace-of-mind
Once a customer has analysed and reached the required safety performance level, there are numerous SMC components to choose from to complement each process. “Offering both safe inputs and outputs is SMC’s EX245-Series. This is a fully certified PROFIsafe product; it offers built-in wiring for each power zone.”

The EX245-FPS#-X35 is a fully certified PROFIsafe product for use in safety applications. “Thanks to its fast start-up, lightweight design and energy saving functions, this solution is a safe and attractive option.”

The comprehensive diagnostic system makes it easy to identify and remedy errors. “Important to note as a key point is that it uses the same mechanical floor space as the existing EX245 PROFINET product line. It is also compatible with other EX245 modules and can be used as very flexible valve manifolds,” he said.

In addition, SMC offers various other components to help customers develop a safe system; these not only comply with regulations but play a key role in aiding a safe working environment. “For instance, SMC’s SY valves can be made safe if designed in conjunction with the right safety components. These offer flexibility in control systems and include various functions that can be included in safety systems – such as spool monitoring,”

“Talk to our team about products to meet your safety requirements. SMC uses a combination of products such as monitored dump valves, SY series valves, pressure switches and many other components that are required to support your safety system,” said Pearce. “SMC has the products and will continue to help our customers achieve their safety goals.”

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