Automation and safety

Daniel Strigard

In mixed human-automation environments, ABB safety solutions both protect workers and help them become more productive.

One of the most important transformations of industrial production over the past 30 years has been the introduction of automated equipment. Labor-intensive and repetitive tasks that once dragged out the production process and sometimes led to injuries are handled today by automation that can perform programmed operations 24 hours a day, often with greater precision than human hands could offer. The pairing of automation with human workers has made factories run more efficiently and has freed people for higher-level tasks.

Supported by flexible automation, factories today have undergone a significant shift – from making large volumes of the same products for a long time to making smaller lots of greater diversity, and in shorter business cycles. This requires people to work closer to automation processes than they have before and to do so in sporadic and less predictable ways, such as bringing new parts to the line, changing programming and inspecting new manufacturing.

At the same time as this large scale automation has taken place, there has also been a significant change in safety. What was regarded as state of the art in production safety 30 years ago would be a totally unacceptable risk today. This is partly thanks to a general change in society regarding safety. Just think of how children are seated in cars today compared to 30 years ago. But it is also partly thanks to the development and agreement of safety standards that continuously strive to increase the safety level in manufacturing industry.

Working side-by-side with automated teammates

Today’s manufacturing relies on the talents of both humans and smart machines to achieve full efficiency. People supply adaptability to change, unique insights and the ability to improvise and solve complex problems. Machines supply tireless endurance for strenuous or dangerous tasks, with repeatable precision. It is important that these valuable production assets can coexist safely as coworkers in the same production space without compromising the imperative for safety.

Protecting workers in mixed human-automation workplaces is where safety products come into the picture. The products and solutions from ABB Jokab Safety have one main purpose: to safeguard people working around industrial equipment. But these products do more than protect; they can also increase productivity, allowing the operators to work safely and confidently with automation and focus on their tasks. By using our vast experience in machine safety and production requirements, we at ABB are creating products and solutions that keep workers safe and help them to be more efficient.

Of course, safety always comes first. That is a requisite everyone working at ABB knows and pursues. So, naturally, we want to share our safety awareness with our customers through the solutions we deliver and through our daily contact with them. The most important thing on every manufacturing site is that everyone gets to return home to their loved ones at the end of the day.

Safety systems from ABB

ABB Jokab Safety has developed an extensive range of safety products to make the shared human-machine workspace safer. For instance, safety controllers from ABB can monitor anything from a single safety function to complete manufacturing lines. Light curtains, safety locks, emergency stop buttons and other devices help maintain safety across the entire production line, and our process locks keep doors around equipment closed during processing. The Quick-Guard fencing system prevents unauthorized access and can also be designed to reduce noise, thus further improving the work environment.

ABB has the products and solutions to keep you safe in an ever faster-spinning world of automation. Together we can create a future where you are always protected – where people and machines, and safety and productivity, go hand in hand.

 

About the author

Daniel Strigard

I’m Marketing Communication Account Manager for ABB Jokab Safety. I’ve been working with machine safety since 2003, specializing in the European Machinery Directive, international safety standards, CE-marking and risk assessment. I’ve been at ABB since 2010 with changing responsibilities such as trainings and technical support but now I’m focusing on marketing communicating for our safety products and solutions.
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