Manufacturing businesses around the world are facing steeper competition and tighter requirements for quality and productivity. In the midst of this demanding environment, safety in motion control and motors applications are often put on the backburner. Sometimes, safety on the factory floor is even viewed as a drain on productivity.
But best-in-class companies view safety as a critical part of operations. A safe working environment experiences fewer disruptions and boosts employee satisfaction, which can even improve employee retention. To effectively introduce safe operations on your factory floor, there are two areas that must be addressed: safety components and safety culture.
Leveraging Safety Components in Motion Control
When creating a safer working environment in motion control applications, it’s important to ensure you’re using the correct safety equipment. This may come in the form of light curtains, door locks, and guard components that can monitor and control plant-floor equipment processes, among many other things.
Intelligent servo amplifiers, for example, can be used for safe motion in standard PLCs and motion control systems. They can provide safe inputs and outputs to activate safety functions, as well as provide encoder interfaces and a connection to all common bus systems for more precise monitoring of motion.
Creating a Culture of Safety
While using the right safety components is crucial, it’s even more effective in the long-term to create a culture of safety within your organization. This requires constant training of personnel, and more importantly, an assessment of automation equipment to ensure the highest levels of safety are achieved.
A proper safety assessment should follow 5 basic steps:
- Identify safety risks and required safety functions
- Assess the risk-reduction required by the safety function
- Ensure the safety function performs as intended, even under failure and incorrect input modes
- Verify the system meets the safety integrity level (SIL)
- Conduct safety audits to reassess evidence that appropriate safety measures have been taken
Continuously assessing the safety risks and the effectiveness of safety measures in your facility is a great way to begin building a culture of safety. Once these processes are firmly established in your facility, you’re much more likely to realize the ongoing benefits of having a safe working environment.
Safety components are important, but they won’t be as effective in a factory that doesn’t value promoting a culture of safety. In today’s manufacturing environment, safety can be core to the value a manufacturer provides if the proper steps are taken to build a culture of safety.
To learn more, take a deeper dive on this topic with our Technical Feature, “Zoned Safety Technology and Creating a Safety Culture.”