Going smart with safety

NHP and Rockwell Automation’s Smart Safety solution enables better visibility into safety-system performance and stoppages, helping manufacturers better monitor and manage the safety of their processes.

Safety has always been a critical aspect of success for any industrial organisation. While it is easy for manufacturers to become singularly focused on cost cutting and increasing production efficiency, non-compliance to safety procedures can put companies at risk of losing their competitive advantage.

In a survey of 236 manufacturing executives in 2010, titled “A risk management approach for improving safety and productivity,” the Aberdeen Group found that the top performing manufacturers were not only better equipped to create a safer working environment for their employees, they were also able to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace.

In fact, across the surveyed group, the top 20 per cent of performance scorers were able to effectively manage their incidents by realising a 0.05 Injury Frequency Rate, while at the same time performing at 90 per cent Overall Equipment Effectiveness. These manufacturers were also able to achieve a 2 per cent unscheduled asset downtime rate, while their peers in contrast experienced a 14 per cent rate. In the case of certain industries (such as the oil and gas industry), even a 1 or 2 per cent decrease can have a very significant impact; a 12 per cent advantage can translate into millions of dollars saved.

The main challenges faced by manufacturers in ensuring safe operations in their plants include human errors, such as operators bypassing poorly designed safety systems, or systems that don’t account for procedural anomalies. Relying on manually entered data for inspections makes data management a risky affair.

Smart safety at work

With the advancements in smart safety solutions, access to real-time data is transforming the production environment. Smart capabilities enable end users to enhance efficiencies, improve product quality and make operations more responsive.

Having a smart, integrated safety system enables manufacturers to collect diagnostic data from their machinery in real time and have a clear picture of their production line, without the need for complex wiring systems.

NHP offers a comprehensive portfolio of smart safety devices, powered by Rockwell Automation. Since May this year, NHP became the exclusive distributor of Rockwell Automation’s products and solutions across Australia and New Zealand.

NHP’s product marketing manager – automation, Adarsh Emmanuel, spoke to Manufacturers Monthly about NHP and Rockwell Automation’s smart safety solutions for manufacturers. “Rockwell Automation has been regularly introducing smart safety products over the years. Combining that with NHP’s complementary product offering and expertise on the topic allows us to offer a comprehensive portfolio of products and services to enable our customers achieve the best possible results.

“The smart safety solutions offered by NHP and Rockwell Automation cover a range of safety systems, from input devices to safety actuators, safety logic controllers and connection systems/networks. All of these devices can seamlessly communicate to each other using a comprehensive breadth of networking products on offer,” Emmanuel said.

As part of their specialised services, NHP and Rockwell Automation also offer safety trainings and risk assessments to customers. “Our objective is to educate the end-users regarding the safety risks in their manufacturing plants and to help them mitigate those risks,” Emmanuel said.

NHP and Rockwell Automation’s Smart Safety solution enables better visibility into safety-system performance and stoppages.
NHP and Rockwell Automation’s Smart Safety solution enables better visibility into safety-system performance and stoppages.

“We encourage our clients to discuss the topic of safety in their workplace. Our TÜV certified engineers are extremely knowledgeable and happy to discuss smart safety solutions in order to make their manufacturing safer and more productive. We also conduct workshops to help customers get hands-on experience with these products.

He noted that smart safety tools help improve safety and productivity in the factory floor through five key elements: reduced complexity of products and services, enhanced diagnostics, scalability of the products and services, integration between devices, and analytics provided by the software platform.

“To get started with machine safety, the first point of call is a risk assessment. The risk assessment is done by certified engineers from NHP/ Rockwell Automation. They will assess the plant and advise what the risks in the plant are and how to address them. Our complete portfolio of products can help to address these safety risks,” he said.

The input devices offered by NHP and Rockwell Automation include presence sensing safety devices – such as the new 450L safety light curtain, safety interlocking switches, emergency stops and trip devices.

In the actuators group, NHP and Rockwell Automation offer safety contactors, PowerFlex AC drives and Kinetix integrated motion.

The safety logic controllers include safety relays, integrated safety controllers – such as the
new compact GuardLogix 5380 and the powerful GuardLogix 5580 controller, and safety I/O devices. The portfolio also includes “Quick connect” connection systems, safety over EtherNet/IP and GuardLink linking technology. These technologies helps reduce wiring while providing device location and delivering diagnostics, remote reset and lock commands over a single cable run. To complete the safety portfolio, NHP also offers the X-Guard safety fencing solution from Axelent. X-Guard is a highly rated machine guard that complies with the machinery directive’s demands on permanent guards.

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