Pilz SafetyEYE, the world's first safe camera system for three-dimensional zone monitoring, could change the face of automotive production lines and other automated manufacturing environments.
Compared with traditional machinery guarding, safety light curtains and laser area scanners, SafetyEYE has the potential to reduce machine downtime significantly, as well as save floor space. Moreover, the cost to install and maintain a SafetyEYE system is up to 70 per cent lower than the cost for safety light curtains, mainly because a typical SafetyEYE system takes just two hours to install and configure.
Each SafetyEYE system comprises a sensing device with three greyscale cameras - to give three-dimensional coverage - and an analysis unit that contains high-performance computers for processing the images, plus a programmable safety system to deliver the safety-related functions and process safety-related and non-safety-related inputs and outputs. The system is configured by means of an intuitive drag-and-drop software package, and extensive diagnostics help to minimise the time required for troubleshooting.
In operation, the system benefits from separate three-dimensional 'warning' and 'detection' (danger) zones. If a person enters a warning zone, an alarm is sounded and the hazardous machinery is slowed down; if the detection zone is entered, the machinery is brought to an immediate standstill.
Already the concept has approval from BG and product approval is expected in April 2007. The system will be approved to EN 954-1 Category 3, IEC/EN 62061 Safety Integrity Level (SIL) 2 and prEN ISO 13849-1 Performance Level (PL) 'd' [see note on standards].
Pilz developed the SafetyEYE system in collaboration with DaimlerChrysler. Pilz took overall responsibility for system development and provided the expertise behind the safety functionality, while DaimlerChrysler specified the practical requirements, developed the image processing algorithms and supported the comprehensive test programme. The first SafetyEYE application is on the production line for the new C-Class Mercedes-Benz.
Note on standards
EN 954-1 (and BS EN 954-1) 'Safety of machinery, Safety-related parts of control systems, Part 1: General principles for design' is a key machinery safety standard. Category 3 covers all but the most hazardous machinery.
EN IEC 62061 'Safety of machinery, Functional safety of safety-related electrical, electronic and programmable electronic control systems' is applicable to systems such as SafetyEYE that utilise programmable controls. SIL 2 is, broadly speaking, equivalent to Category 3 of EN 945-1.
EN ISO 13849-1 'Safety of machinery, Safety related parts of control systems, General principles for design' is soon to replace EN 954-1. Performance Level 'd' is, broadly speaking, equivalent to Category 3 of EN 945-1.