With increased levels of automation, it is more important than ever to ensure that human and machine interact smoothly and safely within the warehouse environment. Safe automation expert Pilz has recently been applying its wealth of experience to intralogistics applications taking a holistic approach with its portfolio of safety services, training and safe automation solutions.
17 Mar 2022
Safety first for warehouse automation
In key areas such as automated loading systems, Pilz consultants can work with you to achieve safety compliance – without compromising productivity. Getting on board as early as the design phase, when the system concept is developed, they provide support for new projects or retrofits right through to commissioning and sign-off.
State-of-the-art product solutions are also available incorporating control and sensor technology through to operating, monitoring and connectivity. These include access management solutions – ensuring tasks such as maintenance can only be carried out by authorised and trained personnel, industrial security – preventing manipulation of systems by external sources, danger zone protection – bringing operations to a safe stop or safe speed if the zone is encroached by personnel, and safe operation of AGV or AMR systems – enabling safe stopping or navigation and interaction within shared work spaces.
Pilz covered safety in an intralogisics arena as part of their popular webinar series. The webinar firstly highlighted the benefits of considering safety from the start of a project. It then introduced how to achieve safety compliance and gave an overview of state-of-the-art product solutions to achieve safe automation - for example safe access management, danger zone protection and safe operation of AGVs/AMRs.
Safety from the start
Safety is always one of the top considerations when implementing an automation project, however it is also often not considered at the beginning of the project. This can lead to project revisions and redesigns to achieve safety compliance or simply safety that doesn’t impinge on productivity. This in turn can add on cost and time. Drawing on both experience gained in similar applications and extensive knowledge of national and international regulations, Pilz consultants can assist throughout the project lifecycle giving the benefit of solutions that for example create individual safety zones to enable maintenance where only the relevant zones need to be shut down. Retrospectively, they can of course always advise on measures required to bring safety in line with current safety legislation and state-of-the-art technology.
Access for authorised persons only
When a safety system is in place, it is vital that the level of safety is ensured at all phases of operation and isn’t susceptible to either unintentional or malicious tampering. Current safety technology enables complete control of who can carry out tasks during regular operation, maintenance or service. For example, PITmode operating mode selection and access permission systems allow employees who are trained, competent and authorised to be given access that corresponds to their skills using coded transponder keys with RFID technology. A far cry from passwords on post-it notes or shared keys!
With increased digitalisation, comes increased risk from network-based attacks and unauthorised access to control systems. The firewall SafetyBridge protects controllers from manipulation by monitoring data traffic between PC and controller to flag up unauthorised changes to control projects.
Zone protection even in rugged environments
In addition to monitoring access to danger zones, zone monitoring technology such as PSENscan Safety Laser Scanners or PSENradar Safe Radar systems can also be implemented together with safe control technology such as the PNOZmulti to ensure that personnel operating within ‘hidden’ danger zones – behind a large loading crane for example – can be detected and an unexpected start up can thereby be prevented. With the new Safe Radar technology this can even be achieved in rugged environments as it is insensitive to external elements such as dust, dirt or vibrations.
Safely on the move
Ever more prominent of course is the need for safety where humans are sharing work environments with automated guided vehicles or autonomous mobile robots (AGV/AMR). When fitted with the safety laser scanner PSENscan, the AGV or AMR can detect objects in its path even at high speeds, feeding data back to the controller to ensure safe slowing or stopping. Thanks to the ROS (Robot Operating System) package, PSENscan also supports dynamic navigation to avoid objects rather than stopping – a clear bonus for productivity.
For further information on Pilz solutions for Intralogistics email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01536 460766.