Functional safety

Monitoring of E-STOP, safety gates, light barriers

In automation too, there is a trend towards digitisation. The rising level of complexity means that configurable or programmable control systems are increasingly used to safeguard plant and machinery. When designing machine control systems, this question often arises in the course of the risk assessment: how do you select the required safety level for safety-related control functions? Manufacturers must select and then combine the components in accordance with certain criteria. The risk estimation looks at the probability of a component failing to danger. The probabilities of failure of the various components must then be examined together. The required safety level is determined via graphs, which illustrate the severity of injury and the frequency or duration of exposure. The greater the risk, the higher the controller’s safety-related requirements. Every safety function is examined in the process. For example, protection against unintended restart or shutting down via the E-STOP function in the case of danger, or even ensuring that the machine is still safe, should the controller fail.

Publication of ISO 13849-1 was originally planned for 2021 and was postponed to 2023. It is far from clear when it will be harmonised into the EU standard EN ISO 13849-1, whether there will be a transition period for publication of the standard in the Official Journal and, if so, how long this might be.

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