Automation control system increases

To help system designers and manufacturers comply with forthcoming Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC, Festo has released a diverse range of pneumatics safety technology.

Festo has released a diverse range of pneumatics safety technology designed to help automation systems manufacturers comply with Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC This new directive comes into force on December 29, 2009, and will supersede Machinery Directive 98/37/EC

Festo noted that there will be no ‘transition period’.

All EU countries are required to incorporate the directive into national law by the end of 2009.

The directive stipulates various health and safety requirements for the design and construction of machines.

Pneumatically controlled automation – there are four operating states that need to be considered when designing safe systems.

1 – Commissioning.

2 – Automatic operation.

3 – Manual operation.

4 – Emergency functions such as reliable stopping or exhausting.

Festo told manufacturingtalk that it is developing a new range of pneumatics safety products to address each of these areas, to help customers design and build safe automation systems.

The first products include clamping units and soft start/quick exhaust valves.

Festo’s KEC-S clamping unit, and the DNCKE-S cylinder clamping unit, provide a precisely defined braking action, with a choice of 1,300N, 3,200N and 8,000N static holding force.

The braking action can be initiated by a power failure, pressure failure or drop, or a deliberate output from a safety device.

The KEC-S clamping units offer a choice of 16, 20 and 25mm diameter rods.

A clamping unit acting on the piston rod under spring force provides braking action and can be sustained over long periods.

The units are ideal for applications involving varying loads – irrespective of fluctuations in the operating pressure they have a reproducible and certified actuation time – and they are unaffected by system leaks.

The KEC-S clamping units and the DNCKE-S cylinders offer a wide choice of mounting options.

They are approved as holding devices and brakes for use in safety-relevant control systems, and are certified by the BGIA (Occupational Safety and Health Institute).

With appropriate additional measures they can also be used for accident prevention in control systems of a higher category.

* Soft-start and exhaust valve – Festo’s MS6-SV soft-start and exhaust valve will be available in Summer 2008.

The valve serves as a decentralised/centralised unit for supplying machines and systems with compressed air.

It is a self-testing mechatronic system with built-in safety redundancy which complies with ISO 13849-1.

Consequently, the pneumatic safety measure of reliable exhausting is ensured even if defects occur within the valve.

The safety check of the piston rod position is performed directly by the valve during self-test, which simplifies wiring and installation, said Festo.

The valve vents the system in critical safety areas in the event of an emergency stop.

Exhaust performance amounts to 6000 litres/min, which is 1.5 times pressurisation performance.

The unit can be connected, for example, to a safety door at an assembly station; if an employee opens the cover, the system is exhausted.

An additional safety feature, the so-called ‘single-fault safety’, is achieved thanks to the unit’s redundant two-channel design.

Festo said that even in the event of a fault, safe exhaust of the system is ensured.

Soft-start valves with sensor feedback integrated onto valve terminals are also now available, enabling entire system segments or critical function units to be pressurised slowly and safely.

* About Festo – Festo manufactures pneumatic and electrical components and systems to support customers with factory and process automation.

The company has an annual turnover in excess of EUR 1.6 billion, employs 12,800 people around the world and has facilities in 176 countries around the world.

Festo operates an aggressive R and D programme investing 7.5% of sales anually, holds over 2,800 worldwide patents, introduces about 100 innovative new products to the market every year and has a product range of over 30,000.

* About Festo Didactic – Festo Didactic, the training and consultancy division of Festo, supports organisations seeking to develop competencies in sales and service, leadership, employee engagement, change management, team-working, coaching, business planning, production processes and automation technology.

The division has particular expertise in working with manufacturing and engineering businesses.

It has a full time workforce of over 200 and operates in 70 countries worldwide.

Each year, it manages more than 230 consultancy projects and runs more than 2,900 open courses in 26 languages, involving some 42,000 participants.

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