Operational Safety Intelligence: Production adapts to the person

On the journey to net­worked pro­duc­tion, Safety & Secu­rity remain a crit­ical factor for suc­cess. The archi­tec­ture of new flex­ible machine mod­ules must con­sider the cor­re­sponding safety tech­nology from the start, and inte­grate func­tional safety into the pro­duc­tion processes.

People and machines should become part­ners on the shop floor when it comes to safety: The machine pro­duces safely, the person makes deci­sions, eval­u­ates and acts freely in a pro­tected zone.

The research plat­form Smart Fac­tory KL is pre­senting a first use case on this topic at the Han­nover Messe 2024. Together with its part­ners TÜV SÜD, B&R Automa­tion and Pilz, Smart Fac­tory KL has imple­mented a dynamic safety con­cept in its pro­duc­tion ecosystem. Under the key­word Oper­a­tional Safety Intel­li­gence, in a nut­shell pro­duc­tion is adapted to human behav­iour. If a worker approaches a danger zone, pro­duc­tion is slowed in stages and only stopped when an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion occurs. In the back­ground, how­ever, the plant does not stop com­pletely, but instead under­takes some dynamic replan­ning and only the affected zone is blocked.

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What if sen­sors worked with the cor­re­sponding con­troller to autonomously assess safety risks and dealt with these using Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence?

The direction must be right

Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence also offers the foun­da­tion for a whole new range of pos­si­bil­i­ties: “What is spe­cial about this is our ability to main­tain pro­duc­tivity because our research radar sensor dynam­i­cally detects how a person moves. By recog­nising the direc­tion of move­ment in par­tic­ular, machines can switch back to pro­duc­tion oper­a­tion more quickly if the radar sensor detects that the person is moving away from the plant,” explains Bernd Neuschwander from the Advanced Devel­op­ment depart­ment at Pilz.

“By recog­nising the direc­tion of move­ment, machines can switch back to pro­duc­tion oper­a­tion more quickly.”

Bernd Neuschwander, Advanced Devel­op­ment

This specif­i­cally means that workers trigger dif­ferent actions depending on their posi­tion and direc­tion of move­ment. If they are in the plant’s warning zone or pro­tec­tion zone but are moving away from it, the plant can start back up at normal speed ear­lier, even if the worker is still in the warning or pro­tec­tion zone. The radar sensor is used here to deter­mine the posi­tion and cal­cu­late a move­ment vector that is used to pre­cisely derive the described sce­nario. This leads to the pro­duc­tivity increase already dis­cussed. In addi­tion, the sensor can dif­fer­en­tiate between humans and objects: If an object, for example an auto­mated guided vehicle system, approaches the plant and crosses the boundary of the warning or pro­tec­tion zone, the speed of the plant does not have to be reduced.

Together with Smart Fac­tory KL, Pilz is working on a dynamic safety con­cept. © Smart­Fac­tory KL e.V.

Sounds like dreams of the future, but can be seen already: More infor­ma­tion on this is avail­able at this year’s Han­nover Messe at the Smart Fac­tory KL stand (Hall 8/D 18).

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