๐ŸŒ An Overview of Safety Standards

Manufacturers must remain focused on operator safety as they continue to increase automation in their factories. ISO 13849 and IEC 61508 lay out the requirements for the safety-related parts of control systems (SRP/CS) and electrical/electronic/programmable electronic safety-related systems, respectively, for high demand and continuous modes of operation.

๐Ÿ”Œ Single vs. Dual Channel Structures

Safety circuits are vital components in automated machinery, designed to protect personnel and equipment from potential hazards. The ISO standard defines single-channel and dual-channel (or redundant) structures for electrical safety circuits, which are broken up into categories.

  • Category B: Category B is a single-channel circuit at the most basic performance level, using components that meet typical circuit conditions such as voltage and current ratings. These components must be suitable for the application and given environment. A single fault in the safety circuit could compromise the safety function of the device.
  • Category 1: Category 1 is similar to Category B in function but uses “well-tried safety principles” and “well-tried components” recognized by ISO or tested by their manufacturers to meet a component safety standard.
  • Category 2: This category employs periodic scans of the system to detect faults. The machine’s control system monitors the safety functionality and halts operation if a fault is detected. A loss of safety function could happen between scans.
  • Category 3: Category 3 is a dual-channel structure where a single fault in the circuit would not cause a loss of safety function due to redundancy. A comparison between single- and dual-channel structures is shown in Fig. 1.
  • Category 4: Category 4 is of the highest safety reliability, combining the structure of Category 3 with onboard diagnostics to monitor for faults. This category of safety circuit can maintain function with an accumulation of faults.

 

Fig 1. A typical emergency stop (e-stop) push-button with one normally open (NO) and two normally closed (NC) contacts. A single-channel structure (a) with one fault (failure to open) would result in a loss of safety protection, while the dual-channel structure of Category 3 or 4 (b) has a redundant input signal.

๐Ÿค– Safety programmable logic control (PLC) devices

Safety PLCs have the benefits of 1) reducing the size and complexity of wiring typically found with traditional safety relays and 2) simplifying future expansion and modification since physical infrastructure changes (e.g., rewiring and adding panels/components) are minimized. They are designed to provide control and safety measures for automated equipment and include programming dedicated to error detection. Safety PLCs continuously monitor input signal status to detect malfunctions and are held to high standards for software integrity and lifecycle testing.

๐Ÿš€ MEMCOโ€™s Delivers Safety and Reliability

MEMCO’s controls engineering team designs automation and robotic systems with your operators’ safety in mind using dedicated safety PLCs, dedicated safety input-output (I/O) modules, the latest robot safety system technologies, and Category 3-rated devices.

Contact us (https://memco.ai/contact) and see how we deliver safe, reliable machinery that complies with standards and best practices of the automated manufacturing industry.


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References

  1. ISO 13849-1:2023, Safety of machinery – Safety-related parts of control systems – Part 1: General principles for design. International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
  2. IEC 61508-1:2010, Functional safety of electrical/electronic/programmable electronic safety-related systems – Part 1: General requirements. International Electrotechnical Commission.

Palletizing robots are becoming increasingly popular in the manufacturing industry. They’re highly efficient, save time, and reduce risks associated with lifting heavy loads. However, some people still question whether a palletizing robot program is a sound investment. While the cost of deploying robots can be high, the benefits that come with using them are many and can be a valuable return on investment.

One of the lesser-known benefits of palletizing robots is that they provide flexibility in equipment and production ย line layout. Because palletizing robots are so versatile, manufacturers can redesign the process flow by placing the robot in different locations. This flexibility can lead to a more efficient workflow, where the finished goods can be sorted more effectively. A palletizing robot can also handle multiple pallets simultaneously, further improving the efficiency.

Another advantage of palletizing robots is their ability to handle a variety of shapes and sizes of products, making them suitable for virtually any industry. Robots are also equipped with sensors and cameras to detect the exact shape and size of the product, so there’s no need to worry about manual calibration or the need for additional equipment. This application is an unparalleled level of flexibility for a manufacturer because no matter how different the products are, palletizing robots can adjust and function effectively.

Purchasing a palletizing robot can also lead to cost savings in the long term. Though the initial investment can be high, the return on investment is significant. Manual labor creates additional costs, such as payroll taxes, vacation time, health care, benefit packages (we’ll talk about the labor crisis later!) A palletizing robot can work additional hours for extended periods without breaks or accommodation. This cost reduction opportunity is even more evident when considering the robot’s extended lifespan, as labor costs continue to increase with the addition of overtime. Palletizing robots can also help reduce worker-related injuries, which leads to a safer workplace. Repetitive manual labor can cause injuries from chronic overuse, which can lead to an expensive medical cost liability, and decrease worker morale. Palletizing robots can shoulder this burden, allowing workers to focus on tasks that require more human-specific skill sets, such as problem-solving, decision-making, and communicating with other departments to streamline the entire operation.

The use of a palletizing robot can also improve the quality of products, improving customer satisfaction. By replacing manual labor with a robotic solution, the likelihood of human error decreases, leading to a decrease in recalled products. Additionally, robotic solutions can efficiently handle heavy products reducing packaging waste due to breakage or collapsed loads leading to and overall cost savings.

In conclusion, though deploying palletizing robots for manufacturing operations may appear costly, the benefits of utilizing them are apparent. Their flexibility, versatility, ability to handle random product shapes and sizes, cost-effectiveness, and the reduction of workplace injuries are significant benefits of palletizing robots.

If you’re unsure about how to strategically deploy a palletizing robot program with a strong focus on fast ROI, please don’t hesitate to give us a call to learn more about our Future Now Program.