What's happening with machine safety standards and networks?

Purpose - Recently there has been considerable technological change in the way in which safety-related control may be engineered. A series of standards based upon IEC 61508 are under development. This paper discusses these changes and highlights their relevancy to machine safety.
Design/methodology/approach - An overview of technological change is given; from safety relays, to programmable safety controllers, safety-related networks and the trend to combine safety and control functions in controllers and networks. Topics to consider when choosing between technologies are put forward, followed by a review of standards that incorporate functional safety.
Findings - The development of safety-related standards, such as IEC 61508 provides general guidance on the design of safety-related systems across a wide range of industries, with specific machinery implementation of the same principles in IEC 62061. There is overlap between IEC 62061 and ISO 13849-1. The same functional safety principles are also implemented in IEC 61800-5-2 for adjustable power drive systems. IEC 61784-3 embodies the functional safety concept in specific network technologies. Significant opportunities arise from the combination of technology and standards development to facilitate design, engineering and cost improvements.
Practical implications - Confusion is apparent in the application of emerging safety standards, coupled with dramatic changes in the approach to safety engineering. Areas of overlap between developing standards are highlighted, along with draft amendments intended to reduce potential conflict and perplexity. Incorporating functional safety into automation and industrial networking technologies enables engineers to produce innovative solutions that can lead to further improvements in machine safety, functionality, productivity and afford design, commissioning and maintenance benefits. Similar benefits are unlikely to be achievable with traditional safety technologies.
Originality/value - Areas of overlap between developing standards are highlighted, with amendments intended to reduce confusion in the intended audience. This paper seeks to raise awareness in the methods and benefits of incorporating functional safety into automation and industrial networking technologies.

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Keywords:

Automation, Networking, Robotics, Safety, Safety-critical systems, Standards

Additional information:

Language(s):English
AuthorsPiggin, Richard (Rockwell Automation, Milton Keynes, UK)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Keywords:Automation, Networking, Robotics, Safety, Safety-critical systems, Standards
Last update:2006