Safety technology in transition

Demand for safety technology on the increase

Image: Safety Alliance

Stricter safety standards in Europe and worldwide result in strong growth of the machine safety market. Systems for machine safety ensure a safe work environment and thus increase productivity and profitability of production processes and systems. This in turn raises market prospects for this industry. These are the results of independent studies which are also confirmed in discussions with users, customers and interested parties.

The following end user industries were examined: Automotive, food and drink, packaging and materials handling, machine tool engineering, presses, electronics and semi-conductors, pharmaceuticals and others (aviation and defense, metals and mining, printed matter). There is an enormous latent demand on the retrofit market with good opportunities for the safety-related upgrading of machines and plants with obsolete systems.

Solutions for machine safety improve the overall system efficiency of machines. They optimize the operating time by decreasing the number of unscheduled shutdowns. This is significant above all for companies who operate in a highly competitive environment and must continuously strive for improved profit margins through efficient operation.

The profitability of the process also increases with a longer operating time and the throughput performed by the machine can be enhanced significantly.

The mentioned factors will intensify the demand for products and solutions with functional safety in the coming years with lasting effect.

Source: Frost & Sullivan 2011

Safety technology becomes more complex

The world of safety technology is changing. Instead of local installations, more and more integrated safety solutions are being used on machine and system level. For this, safety and technology controls with safety devices, but also entire machines and systems are networked via safe communication protocols. A number of different safety protocols have been established. Which protocol is being used is often determined by the end customer.

For this reason, product and solution providers will migrate from a frequently still component-based approach to systemic and integrated overall solutions.

The integrated overall solution has clear advantages compared to individual safety components, for example diagnostic capability and troubleshooting. One or more systems can be monitored from one location.

Integrated solutions also enable flexible adaptation of safety functions to altered protection requirements. With respective scaling and distribution of safety functions, only affected and safety-relevant system parts are switched off if necessary, while the remaining system can continue production. Maintenance of an integrated solution is easier than for hard-wired systems. Functional safety thus becomes a task across systems which is distributed across the machine or plant.

Networked safety systems
Networked safety systems (Graphics: Safety Alliance)

In addition to high performance central safety controls, distributed and networked safety controls and switching devices will play an important role in future. This means that safety technology can be realized based on very small and cost-effective hardware and CPU architectures like Cortex-M3.

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