Safety first with Australian Synchrotron Company

Australian Synchrotron Company took out the Safety Scheme of the Year Award with Amcor Beverage Cans highly commended. Katherine Crichton reports.

Australian Synchrotron Company took out the Safety Scheme of the Year Award with Amcor Beverage Cans highly commended. Katherine Crichton reports.

SPANNING more than the size of an average football field, the Australian Synchrotron located in Victoria, accelerates electrons to almost the speed of light, deflecting electrons through magnetic fields which are channelled down beamlines to experimental workstations where it is used for research.

Ensuring the safety of workers at a facility such as this is obviously paramount, so therefore an electronic access control system was implemented.

Consisting of a series of logical interlocks, the system is designed to ensure “search and secure” operation is complete before allowing synchrotron radiation to enter via photon shutters into a lead enclosure containing the experiment.

It was this focus on safety and innovative use of technology that saw Australian Synchrotron win the 2008 Endeavour Awards Safety Scheme of the Year Award.

Thanking the category sponsors Sick Sensor Intelligence, Bryce Karnaghan, Principle Controls Engineer with Australian Synchrotron, accepted the award at the gala awards ceremony held in May and said it was wonderful to be recognised in this way.

“The way we have implemented our safety systems is a little different to other high energy synchrotron facilities around the world.

“This is particularly the case with the concept of “search and secure” which is unique for this kind of application and is not seen too much in Australia,” Karnaghan told Manufacturers Monthly.

As the facility was new, the safety system needed to be in place before any experimental work could commence as any incident involving radiation would result in the facility being shutdown.

The company elected to use higher safety (SIL3 or CAT4) rated components and methodologies throughout, even though analysis showed lower safety (SIL2) would be adequate.

A series of door interlocks and electromagnetically operated locks was used on lead shielded doors and enclosures to ensure that the area was able to be reliably controlled.

A lock down procedure lead was developed and a set of near universal user interfaces designed.

Once the area is secured, all doors closed and all systems secure, then and only then may the photon shutters be opened and the work may proceed.

Should a safety system lock be forced, then the entire synchrotron will be shut down and the area will be safe within about 20 milliseconds.

The use of intelligent safety rated components meant that the safety systems cannot be defeated either accidentally or deliberately.

Karnaghan explained that the “search and secure” concept can be used in a number of applications and says the successful implementation of the technology at the Clayton facility would not have been possible without the efforts of the Australian Synchrotron employees and the staff at Pilz Safe Automation.

“Now that we have received this recognition hopefully will be able to apply the safety systems we build here to other sites around the world,” he said.

*Please note: In the July issue of Manufacturers’ Monthly the image captioned as belonging to Australian Synchrontron was incorrect. This is the image which should have been published.


Amcor recently embarked on a multi-stage safety upgrade at its Revesby beverage can manufacturing facility in NSW.

The first stage of the safety upgrade included the re-design and replacement of the facility’s safety control system architecture.

Prior to the upgrade, the company’s 11 bodymakers and trimmers were guarded by three separate hard-wired pneumatic guarding systems, each incorporating a series of relays and pneumatic switches. On occasion, these pneumatic switches would fail in the open position, raise a ‘false alarm’ and cause the line to shut down.

The company installed an Allen-Bradley GuardLogix safety controller from automation group, Rockwell Automation.

Featuring a` two-processor safety architecture, the safety controller provides integrated safety and conventional control within the one platform.

The control solution comprises a seamless network of controllers, Category 4-compliant DeviceNet Safety communications and distributed I/O. EtherNet/IP connectivity provides interlocking between machines, and links the controllers to the factory’s supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system.

Both standard and safety control of each of the 11 bodymaker/trimmer pairs will now be managed by 11 individual controllers.

The high-speed of the Logix platform means that the second PLC per bodymaker/trimmer pair is no longer required.

This integrated control architecture helps provide Amcor with increased levels of safety functionality and enables easy system expansion.

The safety upgrade has allowed Amcor to implement a more streamlined safety control solution, for when an alarm is raised, the controllers allow technicians to immediately pinpoint the tripped switch.

The technology allows Amcor to simulate real-life control scenarios and view system architectures, without making any physical connections.

This made it an efficient way to train Amcor staff during system design, set-up and commissioning and made programming easier and more efficient.

Kevin Singh, Business Development Manager, Amcor Beverage Cans, was on hand to accept the award at May’s Endeavour Awards gala ceremony.

“We were delighted with the Award as safety is a big focus for our company. We have managed 2000 days without any lost time injury on the site.” Singh said the award also served as good motivation for the company.