Machine Safety: Protecting Workers without Hard Guarding

Eric H. Hollister, Pilz

Well, SafetyEYE is a safe camera system first of all for three dimensional area monitoring. It consists of a sensor unit as well as a control unit. And the sensor unit consists of three cameras which take up all kinds of image data which is then turned into a virtual 3D room in the control unit which then proves or tests out different defined zones that you can configure on a computer.

First and foremost, the SafetyEYE was developed originally in a partnership with Daimler Chrysler. We actually took some algorithms they've created for drivers' system programs and used that for our industrial sensor.

The main reason that we developed SafetyEYE is that it seemed as the next step forward in safety. Basically along the lines that we liked to call lean safety in the fact that you take the sensor up out of the area and then your safety hard guards have the chance to fall away. And once you remove those physical limitations or obstructions you can then reduce your cell size and practically give you for one, a more open view into your cell or work zone, and maybe the potential to shrink your work area, saving floor space and money.

SafetyEYE, in terms of what it's capable of with the different zones, first of all we have three different zones that you can configure in 3D. First of all we have a detection zone which is basically your safe zone. It has a redundant output or OSSD that you can put out to your different control systems. The second option is a warning zone. This is more for signaling or warning or maybe even standard control of the area or process. The third zone that we have is really more of a convenience sake. It's called a cut zone. It's a green zone that you'll see on the software tool and it's used basically if you have a permanently installed fixture in a warning or detection zone you can configure a cut zone around it to basically cut that object out of the existing zone. And one other big advantage with SafetyEYE is the fact that you don't have to configure these zones from the floor up. In fact you can configure them in the air which keeps your safety out of the way of the operator and protects only the dangerous area. So basically they are freely configurable in 3D as far as their size, their height, their distance from the floor and where they are placed inside the viewable area of the sensor.

From our view at Pilz, SafetyEYE is the first major step in the direction of reducing the amount of hard guarding required especially in the robotics industry. And really the big advantage to that is, is once you start to remove some of the physical obstructions you then gain floor space and especially when you have a closer or a tighter collaboration between man and machine it will allow you to allow an operator to get closer to a robot maybe without shutting it down right away, rather, let it run at a reduced speed so that the operator can continue to go close to the robot and the production can continue. Until that point at which someone is too close to the robot when it would shutdown.

Advertiser Links for workplace safety [what's this?]