“On our plants, it is not a case of integrating a light barrier somewhere or other. Instead, it’s important to also consider the production environment and to safely manage human-machine interaction”, says Andreas Stummer, CTO of the Austrian special purpose machine builder SRW. For him, however, this is just one of many reasons for the long-time cooperation with Pilz.
The order books at SRW Automation & Service GmbH are full. That’s no surprise, as the specialist skills of the company, founded in early 2016, didn’t go unnoticed for long: “We were well positioned right from the start, both technically and in terms of personnel. We have experienced specialists from the widest range of sectors working here, including from special purpose machine building and general automation. We can replicate all engineering services internally – from design of the mechanical construction to software issues”, says Andreas Stummer, authorised representative and Chief Technical Officer (CTO) at SRW. That’s why their portfolio offers complete, tailor-made solutions, particularly for complex robot technology, interlinked machinery or special purpose machine building. These solutions are not only designed, but also developed and manufactured – a one-stop shop.
Whether it’s a case of designing a new installation or converting/upgrading an existing plant – the Vorchdorf-based company hits the target with its application-oriented, solution-based thinking. Andreas Stummer explains the criteria by which he selects the automation components to use: “We operate independently of any manufacturer and search for the best possible technological answer for each task.”
Coded safety switch: no chance of manipulation
For SRW, the automation company Pilz is an automatic starter on almost every project. “The non-contact safety switches PSENcode with M12 connector are the products we install the most. They are an advantage when no mechanical interlock is needed”, says the CTO. These coded safety switches PSENcode really hit the target, and are used to monitor the position of guards in accordance with EN 60947–5‑3 and also for general position monitoring. Thanks to RFID technology, they provide maximum manipulation protection in the smallest space possible. The fact that PSENcode is available in many different types makes this safety gate monitor especially interesting for SRW. According to Stummer, this means the right type can be found for each application.
Mission impossible? Plug and play makes installation simple!
Orders received by the Vorchdorf company often involve the linking of assembly and manufacturing technology, robotics and material handling: Andreas Stummer stresses the high drive for innovation and problem-solving expertise of the SRW team: “The tasks that are referred to us are mostly very challenging and tricky, because by now people know that we have some really clever and resourceful foxes working for us.” With this combined expertise, we have often achieved something that would normally be put into the category of “Mission impossible” – for example, an assembly cell in which a robot populates PCB boards with electronic components, which are then pressed.
According to Stummer, this module insertion station is a prime example of a typical SRW solution, as it intelligently combines some of the core areas of robotics, camera and assembly technology: “On these power modules there are 30 to 50 pins, with a one millimetre diameter. If one pin has moved by more than a tenth of a millimetre or is crooked, the affected power module is classed as an N.i.O. part (N.i.O = not in order).”
“The pressing process is also extreme: there is a servo press with tremendous power behind it – that’s a challenge!”, Andreas Stummer explains. At this point, safety technology again comes into play. Quite specifically, in this application it was necessary to exclude any hazards arising from the integrated 6‑axis robot, the servo press and a moving roundtable. “Our safety concept stipulated electrosensitive protective equipment in this case. We opted for the safety light curtains PSENopt II from Pilz, because they are the only ones to meet Category 3, and are simple to install, set up and put into operation. It works via plug and play”, says Stummer, praising the devices.
Focus on safety: PSENopt II from Pilz are the only light curtains that meet Category 3. © Pilz GmbH & Co. KG, Ostfildern
The electrosensitive protective equipment is installed at the correct distance, so that the protection of human and machine is guaranteed. © Pilz GmbH & Co. KG, Ostfildern
Light curtains from Pilz provide finger and hand protection up to the highest category PL e. © Pilz GmbH & Co. KG, Ostfildern
According to Stummer, the module insertion station is a typical SRW solution, as it intelligently combines some of the core areas of robotics, camera and assembly technology. © Pilz GmbH & Co. KG, Ostfildern
With a protected field height of 150 to 1800 mm, the light curtains are not only suitable for finger and hand protection, but also for body protection up to the highest category PL e in accordance with EN IEC 61496–1/-2.
Determine safety distance simply and quickly
The safety distance between the safeguard and the workplace that needs protecting is key for the safe operation of a plant. In future, with the new browser-based software tool “Safety Distance Calculator”, users themselves can calculate the safety distances for light curtains simply and quickly, so they are always positioned in compliance with the standards. The tool is primarily beneficial in industrial sectors such as special purpose machine building, where the safety distance needs to be recalculated frequently.
This is how it works: The “Safety Distance Calculator” determines the necessary safety distance based on the values entered by the user. Information points provide in-depth explanations of the individual calculation steps. A graphical representation illustrates each calculation so that it is easy to understand. Users receive an appropriate product suggestion, based on the required safety level in accordance with ISO 13849 or IEC 62061.
Work hand in hand to resolve tricky tasks
Several applications at SRW are fitted with Pilz safety light curtains because they are very flexible to use. Via its Austrian subsidiary in Vienna, the German automation company has been working closely with the Upper Austrian special purpose machine builder and automation specialist since 2016. Andreas Stummer is highly satisfied with the customer care: “We value having a supplier at our side who can use their expertise to help us with particularly tricky tasks. And Pilz has always been available to us when we needed support.”
Another example from robotics
SRW worked with Pilz to implement another safety concept for a contract manufacturer in the furniture industry. Several existing machines were to be connected to new plants, with comprehensive inline quality controls, with material logistics and with complex robotics or handling systems. “From a safety perspective, this project requires a particularly high level of creativity and problem-solving expertise, because manual feed and removal must be possible at multiple points, despite a fully automatic process. Despite many years of experience, this balancing act between ‘What’s still possible’ and ‘When will we finally reach the end of the road of standard compliance’ is a new and exciting challenge each time”, the CTO affirms. Safety components in this application are once again light curtains and safety locking devices from Pilz, in particular the PSENopt II Type 3 safety light curtain, which completely excludes dead zones and is the only model to date that is designed for Type 3 applications in accordance with IEC 61496, up to PL d. There was also the safety locking device PSENmlock with integrated escape release, and the coded safety switches PSENcode. According to Andreas Stummer, all these products are cost-optimised and effective, while also meeting the requirements of EN ISO 14119, and therefore protect against hazardous movements.
Finally, CTO Andreas Stummer puts in a nutshell the reasons for the long years of cooperation with Pilz: “On our plants, it is not simply a case of integrating a light barrier or another safety component somewhere or other. Instead, in 99% of the cases brought before us, it’s important to also consider the production environment and to safely manage human-machine interaction”.
About SRW Automation & Service
The Austrian systems integrator is known for innovative turnkey solutions in the field of complex robot technology, interlinked machines and special purpose machinery. The company designs, develops and manufactures control systems and plants to the customer’s requirements – tailor-made special purpose machines, which are not available off the shelf in the form in which they are needed. The special competence of SRW is the planning, integration and interlinking of individual components. With all these tasks, the employed safety technology plays a significant role.