Cost Savings, Reduced Risk and the Safe System Approach for Packaging
by Jason Ayers
Pilz Automation Safety L.P.
Today’s packaging machines are extremely complex and contain several fast moving components that create hazardous conditions for machine operators. With this in mind, we in the engineering community must design and build these systems with safety as our primary goal. Safety, however, can be an extremely difficult issue to tackle if you don’t have the proper knowledge to address it throughout the packaging machine and the plant’s life cycle.
The burning question I’m always asked: “How do I achieve safety in my packaging machines by reducing the possibility of harm to my operators and still keep costs in check?” The answer is very simple – A company must deploy an upfront strategy that tackles these issues from a “Safe System Approach”. This step back approach is a failsafe method to ensure that all required preventative safety measures are incorporated into both new and existing machinery. In this white paper, we are going to outline the two phases that are essential to implementing the “Safe System Approach”, safety services and safety products.
By utilizing services and solutions together, a system solution approach is delineated. Each product and service can be defined individually, but savings, productivity and safety can be achieved in greater amounts by using services and products collectively. It is important to identify a services vendor who is thorough, credible, and trustworthy. It is equally important to use products that meet the highest demands of packaging machines and the industry.
Why is a “Safe System Approach” necessary? The first and most important reason is the safety of the operator. Safe automation ensures that the most valuable asset of any company – its employees – can work safely and free from injury while remaining focused on the job they are doing. The second reason for instituting a “Safe System Approach” is to avoid production downtime and to enhance efficiencies, profitability and consistency in production cycles.
Why should the packaging industry be concerned with this? We are experiencing requests for shorter innovation cycles and more pressure from the competition. Customers are demanding more flexibility from their new and/or existing machines. This flexibility need requires production to be switched from one product to another with minimal lead-time. This reality has driven the industry to look into alternative methodologies in order to produce their product at faster rates. Automation has provided the packaging industry this flexibility. However, an increase in automation requires the need for more robust safety systems to monitor and control this aspect. These safety systems require controllers and motion control solutions to allow processes to run quickly and precisely to increase the throughput of products.
Unfortunately, these systems can introduce a significant level of safety complexity into your application. The question then becomes: “How do I improve my level of safety with added automation?” I will address this question and others including, how to keep plants, machines, and most importantly humans safe. I will also explain how you can actually save money doing this.
To help illustrate a solid and sustainable solution to the current pressures the packaging industry is under, I will use Pilz, which is widely considered to be a leader in safe automation. I will address what types of services should be involved in a company’s safety goal. I will also address what to look for when purchasing safe automation technology, why these products and services are necessary, and what benefits are easily obtainable. The appendix contains examples of packaging machines and how to make them safe.
*I understand that each plant and machine are unique, and that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to safe automation, but I think it is important to give an understandable example to illustrate the importance of safe automation for packaging.
Ask yourself and your team:
· What are the best industry practices, standards and regulations?
· What are the safety methods that will reduce or eliminate the risks of injury?
· Are we confident that we are addressing all of the potential hazards and risks?
· Are we consistently compliant with regulatory requirements?
· Are our current efforts really the most cost effective?
· Most importantly – are we able to certify and willing to be the responsible party for the safe operation of man and machine in our plant?
If your company is unclear or unable to answer these types of question, then outsourcing your risk is a crucial decision that can’t be postponed or ignored. Many companies have downsized their safety engineering staff or eliminated their safety department entirely. A “Safe System Approach” can benefit your company because a trusted vendor is used in consultation with your team or if you don’t have a team-the vendor can become your team.
I highly recommend companies to enlist a vendor supplied service to manage these types of activities as an experienced consultant can create a complete and individualized package of safety services. Even if you have a full staff, a second opinion can help identify potential risk and may find unique ways to save money in the process.
Overview of safety solution services for the packaging industry
I. Consulting Services
• Plant Assessment • Risk Assessment • Safety Concept
• Inspection of Electro Sensitive Protective Equipment (ESPE)
II. Engineering Services
• Safety Design • System Implementation • Safety Validation
III. Certification Services
• International Compliance Services • CE Marking
IV. Instructional Services
These types of services will result in immediate and long-term cost savings, shorter lead times, increased productivity and the assurance of safety complaint equipment.
I. Consulting Services: Plant Assessment
In packaging plants, new machinery is often operated side by side with old machinery. New products can require the modification of existing machinery; therefore, driving changes to your safety system. The purpose of this assessment is to evaluate your existing safety plan and determine areas for improvement.
A structured plant assessment will give you the information you need to make sound safety judgments on compliance and safety factors that impact your packaging facility. Each machine is assessed in a scientific manner using a multi-attribute rating system that establishes the safety requirements and sets priorities for the required changes for each machine.
Pilz conducts an on-site examination that will include:
· Operating machine work-flow analysis through input from maintenance personnel
· Identification of all safety concerns
· Primary hazards analysis on individual machines
· Evaluation of existing risk reduction measures
· Machinery evaluation to ensure compliance with standards and regulations
· Safety review of each machine to determine safety upgrades
· Complete prioritized safety recommendation report
I. Consulting Services: Inspection of ESPE
The purpose of this inspection is to identify safety issues introduced by machine modifications, previous bypassing of safety systems or changes in work procedures. This service ensures that Electro Sensitive Protective Equipment (ESPE) such as light curtains have been properly assembled, installed and inspected.
Many jurisdictions have legal requirements for regular inspections of safety equipment and it is important to be in legal compliance with OSHA, European Directive and other legal bodies.
Pilz provides a knowledgeable consultant to perform the required tests to verify the functionality and safety structure of the ESPE components.
The experienced Pilz examination includes:
· Determination of all ESPE components in need of inspection and the limits of the inspection
· Detect damage or faults through deterioration
· Recommend how often further inspections should be performed
I. Consulting Services: Risk Assessment
Many employees operate or maintain industrial machines that present high levels of risk. When building, retrofitting or interlinking machines, a systematic technical risk assessment provides a structured method to identify hazards and define protective measures that will reduce the degree of potential harm.
The risk assessment is an important part of the safety process and is reflected in the global trend to obligate machine designers and operators to follow a structured assessment in order to comply with various national and/or international standards and applicable legislations. The risk assessment process is utilized to develop safety concepts and generate safety designs (see below for both). Safety improvements on existing machines can be prioritized and implemented based on a known risk; therefore, extending the working life of the machine. Early identification of hazards on new machines will save time and reduce cost by integration, rather than retrofit, of the appropriate safety measures.
Pilz will take the responsibility of performing a documented physical examination and inspection of a machine, under the guidelines of applicable national and/or international standards.
A Pilz Risk Assessment includes:
· Identification of applicable standards
· Industry best practices and regulations
· Statement of machine limits
· Examination of all hazards throughout the machine
· Machinery lifecycle phases
· Estimation and evaluation of risk
· Risk reduction recommendations
I. Consulting Services: Safety Concept
Upon the completion of a risk assessment, Pilz safety experts will conduct a review of the machine system, identify areas for improvement and provide additional concepts to ensure compliance with the relevant safety standards and regulations.
The Pilz approach takes into account the following:
· Industry best practice and national and/or international standards
· Work to minimize implementation costs
· Reduce operator interaction with the machinery
· Improve machine performance
· Reduce maintenance requirements
Pilz safety review includes:
· Use of fixed and movable guards
· Implementation of line and machine stopping systems
· Process for safe removal of electrical and pressurized fluid power systems
· Detection of workers in hazardous areas
· Intelligent solutions developed to ensure safety without sacrificing overall plant and machinery performance
II. Engineering Services: Safety Design
When designing new machines or retrofitting existing machines, safe design must be considered at the project’s conception. By instituting upfront technical measures, hazardous operations can be performed safely and with minimum impact on machine complexity, cost and productivity.