Security Ensuring safety at the shop floor

Editor: Ahlam Rais

As technologies around the manufacturing industry are evolving, safety and security have become two of the most important terminologies on the shop floor. A few crucial pointers for this segment are elaborated below.

There is an urgent need to educate workers and implement safety technologies in an ‘Industry 4.0’ scenario.
There is an urgent need to educate workers and implement safety technologies in an ‘Industry 4.0’ scenario.
(Source: Deposit Photos)

As factories transform into smarter, intelligent and more connected structures, high-quality products are manufactured quickly and with utmost precision. In an ever-evolving ‘Industry 4.0’ scenario, the barrier between machines i.e. robots and humans is narrowing down. This is great as far as it enables greater efficiency and flexibility on the shop floor but it also comes with responsibilities concerning safety and security of the workers. What measures should be undertaken to ensure the safety of the workers? The solution is again smart technology.

Smart and safe solutions

Numerous companies have developed solutions to ensure safety at the shop floor. For instance, ABB’s ‘SafeMove2’ solution protects factory operators and enhances robot safety. The solution offers safety certified monitoring of robot motion, tool and standstill supervision as well as speed limitation. Greater flexibility along with increased productivity can also be achieved at a lower total cost of investment.

In addition to this, Beckhoff launched the TwinCAT 3 – Safety PLC, a software-based safety controller which enables a universal, scalable and simplified solution for safety technology. The TwinCAT Safety PLC supports all steps of safety-related software development including design, implementation, verification and validation.

Vital factors for safety and security

There are a few crucial points that one has to implement while functioning in an ‘Industry 4.0’ environment:

Preventative maintenance: Contemporary technologies such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), automation and analytics can all be used to keep a track of the functioning and processes of the machines in real time. This assists managers to keep a check that all the machines are working properly and carrying on with their dedicated tasks.

Sensors also come into play here, industrial robots can be large, fast-moving, and carry heavy or hazardous parts, a collision with a person could result in severe bodily injury or death. For this reason, the robots are installed with sensors which halt when a person enters in its zone and gets back to work when the person leaves.

Cyber security: With smart factories, there will be a lot of data that will need to be kept secure against cybercrimes. For this, manufacturers need to formulate a strong cybersecurity strategy which will enable the security of the machines and industrial network. One this strategy is implemented, one is left assured that the data is accurate and the machines are working without any interruption.

Educating workers: The best way for workers to handle a tense situation on the shop floor is to be informed and educated about their safety mechanisms, safety policies, industry trends, and standards. The company has to take ownership of their employees and train them so that they are better prepared and equipped in case of any adversity.

Let’s hope that the number of fatal accidents in our manufacturing facilities reduces with the implementation of these technologies and concepts. As they say safety is prevention and prevention is better than cure!

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