Stay safe with SICK: Components evolving into ready-to-install safety systems

Stay safe with SICK: Components evolving into ready-to-install safety
systems

Safety systems with specifically-tailored applications are becoming an
increasingly vital part of SICK’s strategy for the technology of the future.
The aim is to provide OEMs with ready-to-install packages containing not only hardware but also necessary documentation and information
relevant for certification. One reason why this new approach is particularly
attractive for the manufacturing industry
is that SICK has expanded the systems to include customised safety services
too. As a provider of complete solutions, SICK provides the tools for customers
to make ambitious modernisation projects a reality.

It’s always good to know that danger can be
isolated behind closed doors. But if someone does stray into a dangerous
area, it’s also good to have systems that will reliably detect this –
preventing injuries caused by machine movements. Safety switches with guard
locking or even finely woven light curtains are in everyday use within plants.
If an event in the control system occurs, the machine is shifted to a defined safe status. The range of safety functions
out there is many and varied, and so too are the components that are available
in the automation market. But with all eyes now firmly fixed on Industry 4.0,
the question for the safety technology industry is – how flexible is the
interaction between sensor technology and actuator engineering going to be in
the future? And how much intelligence will be needed to make adaptations in line with dynamically changing production
conditions? The Safeguard Detector safety system from SICK reveals exactly what this approach involves in
practice.

Safe, but also smart

Viewed from a purely functional
perspective, the Safeguard Detector is a complete safety solution that is easy
to implement in packaging machines. For example, it can monitor material
transportation on carton magazines. There are conventional methods available
for protecting hazardous areas, including mechanical tunnel covers combined
with safety switches. However, this method restricts the machine operator’s
access, limiting both accessibility and flexibility. A much more sophisticated
and productive method is to secure the hazardous area in such a way that access
can only be gained when the carton
magazine falls below a specific minimum fill level. Taking a production-guided approach to safety technology, this
strategy prevents accidental access to the safety zone. It is a concept that
also conceals another beneficial aspect – a higher production speed and more
space thanks to smaller protection zones.

The Safeguard Detector has everything
that is necessary for implementing a specific safety function in an actual
application. This includes the safety
controller as well as project planning software, safety characteristic value
calculations, circuit diagrams, installation materials, and sensors. Additionally,
safety systems such as the Safeguard Detector mentioned in the example above
are T√úV-approved and reach the safety level required for an application in a
way that is tailored for use with
packaging machines. For example, the Safeguard Detector satisfies the
requirements of performance level “D” in
accordance with EN ISO 13849 and SIL 2 according to EN 62061.

Prepared and approved

SICK takes this concept even
further. Safety systems provide solutions for typical safety functions that
need to be applied over and over again. The packages are configured so that customers can order all the materials they
need for installation using a single part number. This part number does not
simply represent the individual sensor, or a controller or the connection cable
– instead, it represents everything that is
needed for the application in question: hardware, operating
instructions, training, certificates, plus technical data and software. With
everything including certification provided ready-prepared, SICK makes the
machine engineer’s work easier and faster. After all, where machine engineers’
core skills lie are in production processes and process technology; safety
technology is not necessarily the main
focus of theirs.

SICK makes life easier through
the prepared solutions it provides – giving customers the freedom to focus more
on automation. Alongside the Safeguard Detector, other safety solutions that are frequently requested include packages for
autonomous vehicles in logistics, sheet metal working machines, production
facility access monitoring, and storage systems. Every package has been designed
based on a modular concept, enabling the
number of safety systems to be expanded easily using the extensive portfolio
and thus making it possible to find quick solutions to new tasks in the future.
With this in mind, SICK also offers Safety Solutions, which even include safety
services straight from the factory – a particular boon for machine operators
who are looking to modernise their plants
using safety technology.

Modernization: Fast solutions with manufacturer knowledge

SICK’s strategy for safety
technology, favouring a view of the system as a whole rather than focusing
purely on individual components, creates tangible advantages for operating
entities too. While safety systems predominantly address mechanical engineering
and plant engineering requirements, the Safety Solutions take things one step
further from the perspective of system operators. In addition to the individual
components and safety systems, Safety Solutions also include safety services.
Engineering support that is provided for
mechanical engineers can also be transferred to the end customer and their
entire production plant, ultimately creating a complete solution.

Safe Tire Curing Solutions is a
solution for protecting the hazardous area of tire curing machines, which are
used in tire production to shape and vulcanise
green tires. Accidents occurring at these plants in the past have shown that
the process is very hazardous, with the plants often demonstrating gaps in
their safety technology measures. This
results in a high risk of accidents occurring, particularly at tire curing
machines that must be loaded manually by a worker. As a result, new machines
must meet the requirements of EN 16474 Tire Curing Machines – Safety
Requirements and are therefore being equipped with more advanced safety
technology by machine manufacturers. But what about older plant models?

This is where the SICK strategy comes in. It aims to take
a more consistently solutions-based approach to safety technology and examine
the specific challenges posed by an application. Safety services are an
integral part of Safety Solutions. Existing plants can, therefore, be
retrofitted quickly and routinely by experienced SICK specialists, so there is
no need for customers to tie up their own
resources in the process. The service portfolio includes the initial risk
analysis, the safety concept, the safety hardware and software design, the
installation, as well as the commissioning and validation processes in accordance with the requirements of EN 16474
and GB30474 for tire curing machines. In practice, this intelligent safety
concept ultimately ensures that productivity increases, waste is reduced, and –
above all – operator safety is improved. The loading area is protected by a
safety laser scanner which uses its intelligent approach function to automate
restarting. Either monitored access points or opto-electronic
protective devices can be used to protect the area at the rear of the machine.

Companies who opt for Safety
Solutions from SICK to carry out retrofitting of this nature find that the
process could not be simpler – from analysis to planning and all the way
through to implementation in compliance with standards, everything is guided by
SICK safety experts. A machine safeguarding evaluation pre-emptively reveals
any existing safety loopholes. The risk analysis, which is included in this, contains all the information required for
risk-minimising measures. This step needs to be carried out for the specific technical measures to be
planned in the safety concept. Once the customer approves the measures,
conversions or retrofitting can begin. Thanks to the comprehensive portfolio of
safety sensors and systems available, the right customer-specific solution can
be created at an appropriate scale. After validation and approval, the customer
is provided with the documentation
required for acceptance. All this means that SICK is not simply a component
provider – but also a full-service provider of tailored safety solutions.

Safety solutions at system level

Safety technology in mechanical
and plant engineering is an exacting discipline. It requires in-depth
specialist expertise and a constant awareness of the standards that are
currently in force. That is why it makes sense for mechanical and plant
engineers to seek out the advice of safety experts in this context. SICK safety
services allow existing plants facing modernisation
to be retrofitted in a way that is both
fast and compliant with the relevant standards.

Written by:

Benjamin Heimpel, Manager
Business Unit Safety Services & Solutions, SICK AG, Waldkirch

Alexander Wiestler, Manager
Global Product Management Industrial Safety, SICK AG Waldkirch

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