Fail-Safe SmartPLC Makes for Safe Food Manufacturing

Perhaps an element that holds more weight than any other is the safety and quality of items produced in the food manufacturing industry. If an issue occurs anywhere along the production line or at the packaging or warehousing stage, serious consequences can be felt by consumers’ health and businesses can suffer debilitating production losses and reputational damage.

Breaching global food safety regulations and standards such as Food Standards Australia and New Zealand’s (FSANZ) Food Standard Code can also result in harsh financial penalties and liability to the producer in the way of recalls and tainted reputation.

The food manufacturing environment also exposes workers and machinery to temperature fluxuations, exposure to water and hazardous cleaning chemicals. During the 10-year period between 2005 and 2014, FSANZ was notified of 586 food and beverage recalls – wreaking havoc both financially and to a brand’s reputation.

In order to reduce the risk of any of these events from occurring, the machinery, equipment and associated safety systems used in the industry must deliver on functionality, reliability and safety in order to produce, trace and distribute top-quality products that are safe for human consumption – placing a growing focus on functional machine safety.

Standards Australia recently released a number of revised parts of the Australian Standard AS 4024.1 Series – Safety of Machinery – including functional safety, creating an industry-wide need for technology and safety control systems that adhere to not only increasingly stringent functional safety standards, but improving productivity and operational efficiencies. This is where ifm SmartPLC comes in – helping customers to achieve functional safety to the highest standards.

ifm’s all in one fail-safe SmartPLC

Electrical engineers and safety experts within the food manufacturing industry know all too well the complexities of connecting safety devices, having them communicate effectively with each other and the true cost of interruptions experienced throughout this process.

Designed to combat these issues and promote plant productivity, efficiency and safety is ifm’s new all in one fail-safe SmartPLC. Compared with standard PLCs, ifm’s fail-safe PLC boasts a sequential setup of the safety functions and the automatic teach process of the safe AS-i slaves to simplify the commissioning of machines or installations. This removes the risk of tampering with safety systems during commissioning and avoiding associated downtime and lost productivity.

The new SmartPLC combines two separate PLCs in one compact housing. While the one PLC solves safety-related applications, the second PLC either works as a standard PLC or as platform for other tasks. Both PLCs communicate with each other, so that entire plant controls can be implemented including safety functions and visualisations with only one smart PLC.

AS-i gateway – Without programming, the SmartPLC can be used directly as a gateway for AS-I on the one side, and Profinet or EtherNet/IP on the other side and support diagnostics in case of a fault.

Data logger – Operational system data can be recorded via AS-i, EtherCAT, Modbus TCP, Profinet, EtherNet/IP, TCP/IP, UDP/IP or stored on the SD card or in the internal flash memory. An integrated real-time clock can also provide a time stamp for each recorded data block – simplifying the documentation and diagnostics of processes.

Visualisation system – A freely programmable web visualisation based on HTML5 provides maximum transparency. Even the full graphic display of the SmartPLC is freely programmable for visualisation tasks.

Protocol converter – the SmartPLC can be used as a protocol converter between Profinet, EtherNet/IP on the one side, and AS-I, EtherCAT, Modbus TCP, TCP/IP, UDP/IP and IO-Link on the other side.

Free programming software and a large selection of PLC open libraries are also available for customers, and new versions will be able to send safe data and information to higher level field bus PLCs.

For more information on other IFM efector’s food and beverage manufacturing products, click here.