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Beacons and sounders: Moving forward

28 April 2017

Werma considers how beacons and sounders contribute to a safer factory environment and can help to make the operation leaner and Industry 4.0 compliant

The Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC requires machine builders to undertake a thorough safety analysis of the systems that monitor and control the operation of their machines. While the 'dos' and 'don'ts' are well defined in the Directive for many aspects of machine safety, guidelines for the provision of visual and audible warning indicators are more vague; there is ‘guidance’ but little in the way of ‘you must....’. it is more a case of applying 'good practice'.

Visible and audible warning lights on a machine or workstation indicate a change in status and may also indicate a malfunction.

So, how can a supplier of visible and audible warning systems contribute towards ensuring that ‘good practice’ is achieved? A starting point is the risk assessment; once the risks have been identified, the next stage is to reduce them to an acceptable level. The general rules are: if there’s a risk, eliminate it; if you can’t eliminate it, guard it, and if you can’t guard it, warn about it.

Beacons and sounders

Werma offers an extensive range of products that conforms to the new guidelines on machine safety. If the signal device installed on a machine is indicating a safety status, the new directive stipulates that the designer must include a safety value for the device in their risk analysis.

Werma now offers these safety values for more than 100 signalling devices, ranging from signal towers to visual, audible or combined signal devices in various sizes and designs.

The German technical testing authority, TÜV has tested and certified these signal devices with, says Werma, exceptional results; in particular, with all products achieving MTTDF (mean time to dangerous failure) values of greater than 100 years. MTTFDF specifies the nominal operational duration until device failure in accordance with the EN ISO 13849-1 safety standard.

Industry 4.0

There may seem a somewhat tenuous connection between beacons, sounders and Industry 4.0, a concept formulated by the German industrial community to encourage work towards developing ever more sophisticated technologies to automate the running of factories. It captures the desire to work at removing human machine interfaces seen by their very nature as a potentially vulnerable area simply due to the sometimes unpredictable nature of human behaviour and replace them with more automated computer driven systems. Here in the UK Industry 4.0 is still a relatively new concept, but already another tag is being widely used to coin the concept more clearly – Smart Factory.

Companies such as Werma are pioneering the application of intelligent software to their traditional core signal light products to deliver status information and thus create a smarter and safer factory environment less dependent on armies of supervisors walking the walk and talking the talk.

New intelligent systems such as the SmartMONITOR wireless machine monitoring and call for actions systems developed by Werma not only issue automatic warnings in case of hazardous operating conditions but also collect relevant data from the machine or workstation to enable counter measures to be considered to enable durable safe and efficient operations.

In this way deployment of beacons and sounders now becomes part of a sophisticated and intelligent system making the operation safer and Industry 4.0 compliant.

 
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