A new (3-D) perspective in presence detection.

Irish/German co-operation in new technologies creating a paradigm shift in the planning of safety for current and future manufacturing systems.

Presence detection is a critical element in the basis of safety for many pharmaceutical and bio pharmaceutical processes. Detecting presence of workers prior to start-up and during operation of machinery and processes is an effective means of injury prevention. Likewise product can be protected from human contamination using collaborative robots allied with relevant 3-D presence detection. The pharmaceutical sector has always had to deploy sophisticated processes and technology in its manufacturing environment while maintaining the highest safety standards.

G-Funktionsprinzip-SafetyEYE-EN-568This is an approach which responds positively to the need for worker safety while minimising production disruption. Process components such as centrifuges and barrel mixers pose a significant risk to workers because of high speed rotational action or agitation. Likewise transportation of storage units such as intermediate bulk containers and the use of automated wrapping and palletising machinery create the need for effective safeguarding. 3D sensing systems provide many advantages through the introduction of barrier-free safeguarding.

SafetyEYE, a 3-D virtual detection system, provides a comprehensive protection zone around such machinery. Developed jointly by the Pilz Software Research and Development team in Cork (IRL) and the Product Development division in Ostfildern (D), the company considers SafetyEYE as an example of new technologies creating a paradigm shift in the planning of safety for current and future manufacturing systems.

Named ‘Safety Company of the Year’ for 2014 by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s (IOSH) Desmond-South Munster Branch, the award recognised Pilz’s commitment to continuous innovation, singling out the development of SafetyEYE as central to this commitment.

Bob Seward, chair of the IOSH Desmond-South Munster Branch, said: “The development of this innovative SafetyEYE technology will make a significant difference in terms of protecting people at work while they operate around machinery danger zones. Our members were very impressed with SafetyEYE and what it can achieve in terms of accident prevention and safeguarding workers.”

The world’s first 3D zone monitoring system SafetyEYE comprises a three-camera sensing device, an analysis unit and programmable control capability.

The sensing unit creates the image data of the zone to be protected and the stereoscopic cameras allow for precise distance and depth perception. Adjusting the height of the camera device allows for varying zone dimensions and areas of coverage. The image data is processed by the analysis unit to detect any intrusion of the defined 3-D protection zone and is relayed to the programmable safety and control system (PSS) for activation of the appropriate safety response.

The avoidance of an obstacle-course of physical guards has obvious advantages for increased freedom of interaction and ergonomics between machinery and humans without compromising safety for both. Because of the highly configurable software a wide range of detection zones can be designed either using pre-defined geometric forms or bespoke shapes. These zones can then be assigned various safety-related actuations with reference to the risk from an audio-visual warning to shut-down.

SafetyEYE can be used to prevent start-up of machinery when persons are in a danger zone or provide warnings and if necessary activate a shutdown if an operator enters a danger zone while such plant is running. The system can be configured to signal a warning as the worker enters the perimeter of the defined safety zone and as he continues further into the zone initiate further safety actions. The machine can remain in this suspended state while the worker completes his task. Once the worker has cleared the area the machine’s activities can resume in accordance with the worker’s egress from the safety zone. This incremental reactive capability allows for minimum downtime and so optimal productivity is maintained. For workers who only encroach on the outer points of the safety zone the triggered warning will uphold the safety integrity of the work space without limiting operation. Likewise, the system can be configured to allow for pre-defined spaces within the protection zone to be breached without shut down. This is especially useful for supervisory personnel who need to access control components which lie within the safety zone. Again they may complete their task safely without the need to disrupt the manufacturing process.

To achieve the same level of safety in such a scenario as this, a whole range of other safety measures may have to be deployed, such as guard-doors, with the physical and visual restrictions these solutions will impose. Safety for workers venturing beyond these guards would then require optical sensors which operate two-dimensionally along a plane and may require a multiplicity of sensors to provide comprehensive monitoring. This mix of solutions can present significant cost implications and their static single-plane positioning will raise costly design challenges. As SafetyEYE is positioned above the manufacturing area it does not present any physical or visual obstruction and it is also far less likely to be interfered with than other ground-level safety measures which are always more vulnerable to intentional or accidental interference. The 3-D zonal capability means that one sensor unit can provide far more safety coverage than the planar sensors. Such imaging-based devices also have a recording functionality so that safety zone breaches can be recorded or production activity monitored to feed into productivity metrics.

These attributes were acknowledged by Bob Seward of the IOSH when presenting Pilz with the award. “With the introduction of this certified technology, safety can no longer be seen as a barrier to work, slowing work down or stopping work. It can be truly integrated in the work system.”

Pilz Ireland managing director John McAuliffe said: “Pilz were honoured to receive this award. The area of safety in which we work is constantly changing and Pilz need to be innovative in order to provide our customers with solutions that achieve safety in lean manufacturing environments.” Providing services from risk assessment, safety design and safety training to customers all over the world the company views continuous development of processes and products, such as SafetyEYE, as vital in meeting the constantly evolving demands of the modern manufacturing environment.

The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies (PMMI) estimates that 34% of primary pharmaceutical operations in North America by 2018 will be carried out by robots, compared with 21% in 2013. This increasing automation, along with the rapid growth of collaborative robots across all sectors, is heralding a new era of human-robot interaction in manufacturing.

SafetyEYE is especially effective in ensuring the safe deployment of collaborative robots which are ideal for handling materials and ingredients in a decontaminated environment but which require some level of interaction with operators who need to approach to carry out supervisory, control or intervention tasks.

Such are the potential production efficiencies brought about by collaborative robotics in the bulk pharmaceutical manufacturing sector that Health and Safety managers, engineers and suppliers will need to align their safety strategy in line with this new industrial environment.

As with all new technologies care and due process must be exercised in the integration with other plant and machinery. Structured risk assessment considering the specific hazards leading to intelligent safety concepts are the key to successful adoption of such new technologies. Pilz is pioneering safe automation with the continuous development of its services and products, such as SafetyEYE, ensuring that its customers can anticipate the safety challenges presented by industry developments such as collaborative robots.

A Total Compliance Approach

How to choose the most effective and cost efficient route to compliance for your plant?

By Wesley O’Shea, Project Manager, Pilz Ireland

Process Safety, Machine Safety, EMC, ATEX and Pressure Equipment are all commonly used buzzwords within the Industrial Safety Community. Depending on the application, the installation and the hazards present, varying approaches and techniques have been developed to cater for the identification of hazards and the reduction of risk posed by plant and equipment. Organisations now have a choice of techniques including Risk Assessment, HAZOP, SIL Determination, Basis of Safety Analysis, Electrical and Mechanical Integrity Reviews etc. along with a range of legislation; Machinery Directives new 2006-42-EC or old 98-37-EC, Process Safety EN 61508 or EN 61511, Safety Category or Safety Integrity Level. How does an organisation choose the most effective and cost efficient route to compliance?

Whether purchasing new plant or equipment, making modifications or upgrades – the target must be ‘Total Compliance’. In trying to achieve total compliance, the customer is faced with the unenviable task of defining all Legislation and Standards applicable to his/her project and then determining how to coherently identify and address all risks across a range of engineering and organisational disciplines.

Traditionally, plant and equipment were defined as either a Machine or a Process and subsequently a Machine Risk Assessment or HAZOP would follow. However the defining line is not so clear and often hazards and compliance requirements were only partially addressed or even missed. The industry is now moving towards Total Compliance via a more holistic approach.

This holistic approach promotes the use of a standalone team with the internal competency to carry out a full Compliance Assessment of the plant/machine/equipment. The Compliance Assessment encompasses, hazard and operability, machine safety, explosion risk, functional safety etc., carried out by a single team, through a single assessment and delivered in a single report. It is easy to imagine the savings achievable by this approach when we consider the potential for reduction in meetings, documentation review cycles, action prioritisation and so on.

To demonstrate this Total Compliance approach we will take the example of a customer in the Pharmaceutical industry. During the planning stages of an upgrade project whereby a batch manufacturing area was due to undergo a full control system retrofit incorporating the purchasing of new auxiliary process equipment, it was decided a Total Compliance Approach was necessary in order to manage the project from both a process safety and machinery safety aspect. The combination of Machine CE Marking, Process Control Hazards, Functional Safety Requirements and Explosion Protection was proving a significant challenge to the plant engineering and EHS departments. The challenge was how to best address all mandatory requirements of relevant legislation in a timely and cost effect manner. The traditional approach of having several teams working on HAZOPs, Machine Risk Assessment, SIL determination and Explosion Protection would have paralysed the project both from a cost and time perspective.

The Total Compliance Assessment team systematically reviewed the plant compliance status in a single assessment. So rather than having a HAZOP, then a Risk Assessment, then a SIL meeting, a single combined assessment covered all areas. The Total Compliance Assessment team analysed E&I drawings, P&IDs, PFDs, Hazardous Area Classifications, Machinery requirements, Safety Critcial Loops and EMC and Noise implications for surrounding personnel and equipment. Following the onsite assessment, a single report was delivered to the customer, this report provided an identification of all risks along with a single prioritised action listing. As a result of this integrated approach, the customer estimated that the duration of this project stage was reduced by approximately 40% with a comparable saving on resource requirements.

As part of our Safety Engineering Services, Pilz offers our ‘Total Compliance Assessment’. This assessment offers our customers a one stop solution for all plant and equipment whether new or old. No longer does the customer need to decide between Machinery Directive or ATEX Directive, between HAZOP or Risk Assessment: Our ‘Total Compliance Assessment’ covers all areas in a combined multidisciplinary approach, Several Areas – One Assessment: Total Compliance.

Cracking the new safety code


By John McAuliffe, Managing Director, Pilz Ireland.

John McAuliffe, Managing Director Pilz Ireland

On December 31st 2009, the new European machinery directive 2006/42/EC came into force. (So did the corresponding revision to Irish legislation “Machinery Regulations 2008 (SI 407/08)”). For some it will be considered as more Eurocentric red tape, but those who use the framework of the regulations in a positive process will find a code for preventing serious injury in the workplace.

Twenty years ago the EU introduced the Machinery Directive with the aim of ensuring the free movement of machinery by guaranteeing a high and a common level of protection in the areas of health and safety. Despite improvements, accidents relating to the use of machinery still remain a tragic and costly reality today. In the EU each year more than 500 million workdays, and 3% of member countries’ GDP, are estimated to be lost to workplace accidents, while research by the Health and Safety Authority in Ireland shows that 11% of workplace accidents related to “machine problems” – Health and Safety Workplace Accidents (2005) – the majority within the manufacturing sector. Research here by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB), meanwhile, showed that out of eleven awards of compensation for personal injury in excess of €100,000 granted in 2008 seven related to machinery accidents.

The new safety directive takes into account extensive work into uncovering the nature of such accidents, such as research carried out by The BG Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Germany (BGIA) and the Swiss Agency SUVA. Such studies show for instance, that once automated systems became the norm, accidents decreased due to less human machine interaction. However occupational accident incidence reached a plateau and did not decline any further.

In 25% of accidents studied, workers’ bypassing safety systems is a contributory cause of the accident, with research showing that workers do so because there is a benefit for them and because management supported such behavior. Similarly, safety concepts that do not hinder the working process are usually not tampered with, while those that do are more likely to be bypassed.

To counter such behaviours, and reflect new thinking in workplace safety, under the new directive manufacturers are required to consider “the hazards that exist … in the conditions foreseen by the manufacturer… or in foreseeable abnormal situations”. New prevention methods and technologies need to be considered to ensure a safe intervention if for certain operations, the machinery must be operated with a protective device removed or disabled.

Risk assessment as an ongoing, iterative process is now enshrined unambiguously in the new directive, with the previous obligation “… to assess the hazards ….” replaced with a much stronger statement:

  • “The manufacturer of machinery … must ensure that a risk assessment is carried out …. By the iterative process of risk assessment and risk reduction …, the manufacturer … shall: eliminate the hazards or reduce the risks associated with these hazards by application of protective measures…”

In practical terms, companies manufacturing machines will therefore need to ensure that a defined iterative process is carried out effectively and that the results are demonstrably incorporated in the machine design, recorded in the technical file and reflected in the instructions for use.

Some of the other most significant changes include:

  • there is a requirement to consider foreseeable human error
  • a new definitions of machinery including the introduction of the new concept, that of partly completed machinery
  • instructions on the use of machines must not only take account of the intended use of a machine, but also any reasonably foreseeable misuse
  • there is an obligation to consider control systems and protective devices to automatically prevent start up if it detects somebody in a danger zone.

For manufacturers and users alike the implementation of the new safety directives will prove challenging initially. Ultimately the effort will be rewarded when the new directive is used in a collaborative effort involving the manufacturer of the machine, the machine user and those responsible for developing the machine safety concepts to prevent serious injury.

The author, John McAuliffe is Managing Director of Pilz Ireland – experts in the safety of human, machine and the environment.