Profile of a safety system

28 April 2017

Modular aluminium profile systems, referred to by some as 'industrial Mecanno', are used widely throughout industry, retail and lifestyle applications. In this article MiniTec looks at the role the product plays in helping to keep keeping manufacturing operations safe

The Machinery Safety Directive EN ISO 13849-1 contains a vast amount of information and lays down many requirements for machine builders and operators – all designed to ensure that the means of production in any manufacturing enterprise are installed correctly and operated in a safe manner. 

Modular aluminium profile systems, such as those designed and manufactured by MiniTec, can be used to provide a flexible, customised and re-useable machine guarding systems.

Modern rotating machinery such as CNC lathes and machining centres will always be designed with a robust guard door to protect the operator from the rotating equipment. The guard doors are fitted with interlocks which disable the machine should the door be opened. This however is not generally an application where the MiniTec system will be deployed.

Consider however robotic manufacturing equipment – large machines with arms wielding laser and welding equipment or production lines with automatic pick and place equipment – this is the sort of equipment that requires machine guards or cages. Pictured here are a typical machine safety cage and a conveyor system under construction with a safety cage.  

The safety guards and cages serve to protect the operator from hazardous moving equipment and act as 'retainers' to protect product from flying off the equipment, potentially causing damage to both equipment and staff.

Working to customer designs, the cage manufacturer can create the aluminium profile construction to fit the exact specification, with bespoke elements that suit the industrial environment. For example, access points may be fitted with door interlocks to prevent accidental opening whilst the equipment is running. In many cases customers will also require andon lights to be fitted to indicate whether or not it is safe to enter.

Creating a safe environment also for test facilities is an area that lends itself to a customised construction. In one example, an aluminium profile system was used to construct a low frequency magnetically shielded room for test purposes. A 3 x 3 x 2m high shielded room was built for the University of Vienna where students conduct research into the properties of magnetic fields and their influence on the working environment.

The MiniTec aluminium profile system was selected for its robustness, simplicity of installation and for the comprehensive range of accessories available.

Once the framework was complete it was clad with Mumetal, a highly permeable material, which serves to absorb the magnetic field and re-direct it away from the interior of the room. The drastically reduced magnetic field inside the room allows experiments to be carried out without unwanted magnetic interference.

Sustainable solution

At the heart of the MiniTec system is the company's Powerlock fastening method which requires no specific preparation, pre-machining or special tools and uses standard off the shelf fasteners. The use of standard M8 fasteners means all that is required to assemble or dismantle a structure is an Allen key.

Manufacturing operations have the benefit of a modular aluminium profile system which can, if necessary, be built and then later broken down and rebuilt in another location, with extensions and additional features if required.