While on European factory floors it is normal for personnel to feel safe when working on plant and machinery thanks to laws and standards, in other places around the world there is still work to be done to convince people to carry out technical safety measures. Like in Japan, where Pilz Japan has been helping change minds for 25 years.
At the end of the 90s, the protection of human and machine was primarily viewed as a high cost factor by Japanese companies. This was the period, specifically in 1997, when Pilz opened its first subsidiary in Japan in Yokohama. Since that time, the employees, currently numbering 22, have been dedicated to increasing safety.
Focus on raising awareness
In 2000 SafetyBUS p Club, which is now called Safety Network Japan, was founded by Pilz Japan and other member companies like the automotive manufacturer Toyota and the automation company Hokuyu. The organisation raised awareness for greater safety and a reduction of work accidents in Japan by offering presentations on machinery safety and the current trends in functional safety. But what’s the Japanese legislation setup like? Employment law was adapted in 2006 so that interest in safe automation is growing. Even though the law does not make any binding specifications, safety is becoming more relevant and consciousness is changing. Safety and security are less likely to be considered as cost factors, and instead as a “must-have” in modern industrial environments.
Safety “made in Germany”
There is still much work to be done, especially in the food and packaging industries. For example, Pilz Japan first performed a risk assessment for an international food group. The customer thus became aware of the automation solutions and the training offer from Pilz. Now the customer is interested in training its employees in South Korea in machinery safety. “Our customers naturally export their plants abroad, which is why it is important for them to have a reliable expert by their side to support them during the certification of their plant and machinery,” explains Olivier Ligibel, General Manager of Pilz Japan. As a German company, Pilz is preceded by its good reputation, as Germany is considered a pioneer when it comes to safety.
But not only large corporations deal with safety matters, argues Olivier Ligibel: “We are seeing a growing interest in safety and security among smaller companies. Many of them are still put off by the investments, but recognise the growing importance.” In other words, there is still much to do after the anniversary celebration, as safety and security are currently in demand in Japan.