It sometimes feels as if change is the only constant in the world of machinery safety. 2007 has seen some significant new legislation and standards, plus there have been new appointments here at Pilz Automation Technology, a wealth of new product launches, and developments in terms of customer service. However, one thing has remained constant through 2007; Pilz is still the leading provider of machinery safety products and services in the UK, and this was underlined by the fact that the company celebrated its 20th anniversary over the summer.
Legislation and standards
After years of delays, the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 finally received Royal Assent on 26 July 2007, though it will not come into effect until 6 April 2008. In addition to an explanatory article on the Pilz website, there is also more information on the HSE website.
Another contentious issue that came to a head in 2007 was EN ISO 13849-1, the replacement for EN 954-1. The new standard was ratified on 8 May 2007 and there is a transition period until 30 November 2009 during which machine builders can choose whether to work to EN 954-1 or EN ISO 13849-1. An informative interview on the Pilz website is titled Learning to live with EN ISO 13849-1.
EN 1050, the risk assessment standard, was withdrawn and superseded by EN ISO 14121-1 during 2007. Fortunately the changes are generally only small, but the main point to note is that BS EN 1050 Annex B, 'Methods for analysing hazards and estimating risk', does not exist in BS EN ISO 14121-1. This is because the new standard is in two parts, with Part 1 covering 'Principles', and Part 2, when it is eventually published, covering 'Practical guidance and examples of methods.'
Also in 2007 an addition to EN1088 was published, making important recommendations relating to the specification and installation of guard interlocks. The aim is to encourage better design of machinery to reduce the temptation to defeat safety devices, and to ensure that safety devices are more difficult to defeat.
Looking ahead to 2008, Pilz will be playing a key role in educating the market with respect to the new legislation and standards, so watch out for news about this in forthcoming issues of the Safety Update email newsletter.
Pilz company news
Year-on-year turnover for Pilz Automation Technology was up yet again in 2007. In September Pilz Automation Technology celebrated 20 years in business, and 2007 also saw the 50th issue of the Safety Update email newsletter published.
Another major achievement was completion of the new Pilz website, plus there have been two important developments in terms of customer services. First, 24/7 telephone support is now available and, second, Stephen Westwell has been appointed as a new Technical Support Engineer to work alongside Graham King.
Another notable new appointment is that of Paul Kingston, as a Consultant/Engineer in the Services division. At the start of 2008 John Glover will be joining the Services division full-time, having previously worked part-time as a consultant while also operating as the field sales engineer in Scotland. There will also be other appointments to boost the Services division during 2008 in response to ever-increasing demand for, in particular, risk assessments, plant assessments and training courses.
New safety products
The major product launch in 2007 was SafetyEYE, the World's first safe camera system for three-dimensional zone monitoring. The innovation in this system has not gone unnoticed, with several awards being made. The most recent of these was the 'Automation Product of the Year', which was presented at the 2007 Electrical Industry Awards.
Another vision-based sensor unveiled in 2007 was the PSENvip for monitoring press brakes. Not only does this system help to maintain safety, but it also measures the angle of bend, so aids accurate, efficient production. PSENvip systems will be available for delivery in 2008.
The PNOZmulti modular safety controller has continued to go from strength to strength, with several new modules and features introduced in 2007. Highlights include improved speed monitoring functions and a module for connecting multiple PNOZmulti controllers. In 2008 there will be a new analogue module and other enhancements to the PNOZmulti range.
Some interesting and useful safety sensors have also been launched in 2007. For example, the single-beam light sensors are a highly-cost-effective alternative to safety light curtains for applications requiring body detection. If physical guards are being used and space is restricted, Pilz now offers extremely compact magnetic safety switches with an M12 threaded body for both the sensor and the actuator.
PAScal is the Pilz Safety Calculator, which was launched in the UK in 2007. This is a software package for performing the calculations required when designing safety-related machine control systems in accordance with EN ISO 13849-1 or EN IEC 62061. Using PAScal makes it much easier to ensure compliance with the standards' requirements, plus it helps to save both time and costs.
Strong growth, particularly in the Services division, means that turnover for Pilz in the UK is expected to be higher again in 2008. Indeed, not only is John Glover being promoted to the Services division full-time in 2008, but Pilz is also actively seeking to recruit two additional consultants. A recently formed Pilz International Services Group has now secured a number of Europe-wide and global contracts to provide safety services to blue-chip companies, and it is expected that more such contracts will be signed in 2008. In addition, Pilz will continue to provide 'ad hoc' consultancy services to customers on a national basis.
From 21-25 April 2008 Pilz will be exhibiting at the MACH show (Hall 4, stand 4371). This exhibition at the NEC is the first attended by Pilz for many years, but the show provides the best way for the largest number of people to see SafetyEYE in action. In addition, Pilz will be showcasing the PMC range of motion control products with integrated safety functionality, as well as standard (non-safety) I/O products.
An exciting development for the website in the first quarter of 2008 is a new online shopping basket to enable customers to purchase products. Moreover, customers will benefit from a comprehensive online account management facility.
Several new products are in the final stages of development and will be launched in 2008. These include further additions to the PNOZmulti, human-machine interface and Programmable Safety System ranges - including waterproof I/O modules.
Something else to look forward to is the new Machinery Directive. Although this does not take effect until the end of 2009, many companies will want to start preparing for the new Directive during 2008, and Pilz will be able to assist as required.
Finally, as we look back on a busy 2007 and ahead to an exciting 2008, everyone at Pilz would like to wish you the very best for the festive season and a prosperous and safe New Year.