An emerging concept – fenceless machine safety – is introducing machine builders and end users to a new method of safeguarding personnel and process integrity, while providing better access to machinery, facilitating quicker changeovers, and saving valuable floor space.
What is Fenceless Safety?
Fenceless safety relies on a non-contact, opto-electronic presence-sensing device called a safety laser scanner. The laser scanner monitors hazardous areas of machines by scanning its surroundings in two dimensions using an infrared laser beam. It works on the time-of-flight principle, which measures the time it takes for a light pulse to travel between the scanner and an object in order to calculate the object’s distance.
As soon as the safety laser scanner detects an object or person in the protective field, safe machine shutdown is initiated. Warning fields can be used to detect an intrusion before the actual hazardous area, signaling an audible or visual alert, or machine slowdown.
4 Benefits of Fenceless Machine Safety
1. Fenceless Safety Increases Productivity
Hard guards or mechanical fences limit access to your machines, and make changeovers more complicated and time-consuming. They occupy valuable real estate on the shop floor that could be used for value-added processes. Safety mats, light curtains, and other perimeter guarding also consume extra space for installation and the required safe stopping distances. On the other hand, fenceless safety is a non-contact solution, saving floor space and improving access to machines for quicker changeover.
2. Fenceless Safety is Custom-Fit to Your Application
With fenceless safety, the laser scanner is used to make the safety solution fit the application, rather than force the application to conform to the safety system. The scanner’s monitoring field conforms to the unique shape of the machinery and hazardous areas, without impeding worker accessibility and process productivity.
3. Fenceless Safety is an Out-Of-the-Box Solution
Unlike their hard-and-fast counterparts, fenceless safety is an out-of-box solution. With safety laser scanners, you simply disconnect power to the scanner, move it to the new location, and reconfigure the new safety zones using the built-in software. It’s that simple.
4. Fenceless Safety is Affordable
The machine tool industry has long been enticed by the idea of fenceless safety and its flexibility and space-saving benefits. The technology costs, however, simply outweighed the advantages. Now the prices of safety laser scanners have dropped significantly to where fenceless safety is a viable, cost-effective option.
Machine builders and end users should consult with a safety solutions provider to determine the most appropriate safety system for their application. Work with a trusted supplier who has demonstrated competency with a variety of safety sensors and protective devices, safe motion control, risk assessment, and machine validation for a comprehensive safety solution.
To learn more about fenceless safety and the many benefits, click here to download the full white paper.
This blog post is meant as a guideline only and is accurate as of the time of publication. When implementing any safety measures, we recommend consulting with a safety professional.