Posted by Pneumatics Team on 25 Mar 2019
As an engineer, the responsibility to adopt not just the latest, but the safest technologies, never goes away. Protecting people and machinery has become, quite simply, industry’s number one priority. Safety first. Always.
Factory automation is certainly no exception. Here, major advances have fuelled greater focus on smarter controls and increased integration of smart devices and safety componentry. Included in this are the latest pneumatic solutions, which nowadays form a core part of safety controls for implementing the preventative technical measures needed to ensure machine safety, including clamping, blocking, exhausting and holding equipment in place.
But hold on a moment, what actually classifies a product as a safety component? Well, as with all things related to machine safety, the best place to find out is the Machinery Directive, which states that a product is deemed to be a safety component when it is tested and verified to provide specific safe function for a pre-determined period of time in a given state.
The Machinery Directive also offers clear distinction between safety devices and standard pneumatic components deployed in a safety circuit. Notably, the term ‘safety component’ does not imply the actual reliability or safety level of the component. Those products offered as safety-rated must undergo stringent requirements for certification, testing and approval. As a further point, the Machinery Directive does not prescribe the use of safety-rated componentry, it merely provides a description of the conformity assessment procedures to market a product as safety rated.
So, how is it best to determine what level of safety is required? The answer: perform a risk assessment. Three steps are involved here: analysis, evaluation and reduction. The first step, risk analysis, also requires engineers to estimate risk and determine the performance level required (PLr).
After the PLr is established the performance level (PL) will need to be calculated based on safety categories that are established in line with factors such as a measure of diagnostic capabilities (DC) for the control system, the meantime to dangerous failure (MTTFD) and common cause failure (CCF). In combination, these inputs will define the level of a given safety function.
In tandem with the strategy set out here, peace-of-mind can, of course, be found by specifying safety-rated products from a reputable supplier. After all, as machine builders will be well aware, the price of non-compliance can be extremely costly.
To discover more about Parker’s factory automation solutions, please see our guide "A Comprehensive Guide to Machine Safety".
Article contributed by Linda Caron, global product manager for Factory Automation, Pneumatic Division.
Industrial Ethernet (IE) is growing at a startling rate. In fact, the latest estimates put the annual growth at a staggering 22 percent, which means some 52 percent of the connectivity market is now commanded by IE, putting it ahead of traditional fieldbus networks for the first time.
There are many reasons for this. In our opinion, these include the widespread accessibility of several IE protocols, a good degree of backward compatibility and the availability of rugged components (hardwired) that are typically protected from electrical noise. And it is important to not overlook the emergence of cloud technologies, as well as the pure and simple demand for more connected devices as part of industry’s smart factory evolution.
Smart factories look to eliminate downtime and enhance productivity, which is why the systems and equipment in such facilities must be far more intelligent, flexible and dynamic.
Data collection and analysis is at the core of this effort, an activity that is intended to aid faster and more informed decision making. It’s perfectly clear why all of you production managers out there would want to make decisions based on accurate reporting of what’s actually trending on the shop floor.
From a technical perspective, analytics can be accomplished in different ways. Data can be stored and retrieved as needed (acyclic data) or returned through the network in real time for immediate attention (cyclic data).
In either case, as already mentioned, there are numerous IE protocols which can help communicate this data, not least familiar ones such as Profinet, Ethernet /IP and EtherCAT. And each has its own set of attributes, but regardless of which best suits a given application, the proliferation of these protocols has made IE a major fixture in control systems around the globe.
While our industry is without doubt seeing more take-up of IE, the goal for automation equipment vendors has been delivering IE connectivity in a cost-effective and straightforward manner. For this reason, Parker has been busy developing a high-capability, high-reliability IE network node: the P2M node.
Designed with advanced factory automation in mind, Parker’s engineers have created the node so that it’s both easy to configure and cost-effective. The result is that the company’s H Universal ISO Series valve, Moduflex valve and H Micro valve families can now connect to the IE network. In fact, we can now offer a large range of IE connectivity options, including EtherNet/IP, Profinet IO, EtherCAT, Ethernet PowerLink, Modbus TCP/IP and CC-Link IE protocols.
Adding further to the options for easier and more cost-effective network connectivity is our H Series Network Portal, which delivers on-machine flexibility for IE applications. The portal handles machine digital or IO-Links I/O's, eradicating the necessity for extra PLC input and output cards or other remote I/O modules. Offering full configurable IO-Link channels on the valve manifold via the network portal facilitates straightforward and cost-effective centralised machine application, even in caustic, wash-down or hazardous areas and even where extreme temperatures are present.
Ultimately, the reality of low-cost connectivity with integrated diagnostics has at last arrived, serving to further reduce complexity and cost at the machine, while simultaneously meeting the requirements of smart factories and Industry 4.0. The IE compatibility of critical automation components such as pneumatic valves is paramount if industrial users are to leverage the full benefits that total and reliable connectivity can bring.
If you’d like to discover more about Parker’s P2M IE network node, please watch the video below:
Article contributed by Patrick Berdal, EMEA product manager for control devices, Pneumatic Division Europe, Parker Hannifin Corporation.
Careful and correct sensor installation is vital if accurate and reliable information is to be measured and communicated from the sensor.
What all engineers want when it comes to sensor installation is a simple, secure and rapid assembly process, without complicated processes such as the need for additional mountings.
The P8S proximity sensor offers universal use, flexible integration and excellent form. Its square design is also suitable for rapid installation in industry-standard T-slots, regardless of cylinder profile or brand. The upshot of this direct, drop-in design – as opposed to ‘turn-in’ or ‘slide-in’ concepts – is a significant reduction in installation time.
Among the innovations with the P8S are retaining ribs on the side of the sensor body that enable simple mounting, including hard-to-reach locations or overhead assemblies. These ribs ensure the sensor conveniently holds its position in the T-slot even before the screw is tightened.
To begin the installation, simply slide the sensor into the T-slot. When in the desired position, a quarter-turn of the eccentric stainless steel screw is all that is required to secure the sensor. To further simplify mounting, the screw head design is such that it accepts either a flat-blade screwdriver or Allen key. The mounting screw even features a knurled head that helps to withstand shock or vibration.
Of course, not all cylinders have T-slots. With P8S sensors this is not a problem as they also mount externally to cylinders. As a result, fitment to round, tie rod and profile cylinders are straightforward.
To make life as simple as possible, every P8S sensor is delivered with a specific adaptor to suit dovetail grooves. Also available are special brackets for round and tie-rod cylinders. The concept is to provide one sensor for all actuator types and brands - not just Parker units.
Cables are be supplied in three or 10 metre lengths (flying lead) or 0.3 metres with an M8 rotating plug, as standard.
Ultimately, automation demands excellent functionality and precision, which in turn requires solid expertise and knowledge at all levels, including best-practice installation.
To discover more about Parker P8S sensors and benefits they can deliver, watch this video:
This article was contributed by Franck Roussilon, product manager, Pneumatic Division Europe, Parker Hannifin Corporation.