Assured safety in challenging machinery applications
The growing demand for reliability and efficiency in the modern production environment has led to an evolving need for new and innovative machine guarding strategies. Mechan Controls has set out its stall not simply to meet these requirements, but to be the leading British manufacturer of such products.
Managing director Mabruk Farrah is also the owner of Mechan Controls, having acquired the company in 2017. He saw for the business an opportunity to drive its growth by focusing firstly on high performance, high reliability products, but also by targeting overseas markets where the ‘made in Britain’ tag is regarded as the ultimate badge of quality.
Formerly technical director at the company, and responsible over the years for the development of many of Mechan Controls’ products, Farrah is now expanding the product portfolio, with the goal of making the company the number one choice for machine safety guard products.
“We’re moving the company to the next level,” he says. “All the products are designed and manufactured in the UK, and we’re flying the British flag by focusing on performance, quality and reliability.”
Mechan Controls has been a leading player in machine guarding since the development and manufacture in 1972 of its first non-contact safety switches for the harsh conditions of the can making industry. Today from its base in Skelmersdale, Mechan Controls manufactures a wide range of non-contact safety switches, mechanical interlocks, light curtains and safety relays to suit most machine guarding requirements. Whether you have a low or high-risk application, the extensive range of products fulfils the latest requirements set out in the international safety standards. The range caters for non-locking, locking and non-guarded areas of machines. This means you can rely on these products for a number of applications, ensuring the correct guarding is used to maximise productivity and, more importantly, protect its users.
New products launched this year include the MLG-Series of Type 4 and multi-beam light curtains for production line safety and perimeter guarding. Robust enough to be used in even the harshest conditions, they are available in heights from 200mm to 1800mm, and offer finger, hand and body protection. Applications include presses, packing machines, carton gluers, robot assembly cells and welding cells.
“These high quality light curtains represent the culmination of our combined 40+ years’ experience in the design and manufacture of machine guard safety products,” says Farrah. “Compact and rugged, they also incorporate a diagnostics display.
Also new is the Proton range of uniquely coded OSSD RFID solenoid interlocks, designed to safeguard areas that require guard locking during operation or during run down periods. The uniquely coded (4 billion codes) RFID actuator provides a high level of coding according to EN14119, with a design that fulfils PL-e safety requirements when the units are connected in series.
The ball style actuator has been designed to be tolerant to high misalignment, self-centring itself upon actuation. The robust design has been tested to hold 3,000N and the large solenoid can energise under a lateral load. Advanced LED diagnostics is included on the unit, and external device monitoring is available. The Proton switch is highly reliable and suitable for most guard locking applications.
Another relatively recent addition to the Mechan Controls range is the HED safety switch for machine guarding, which enables the monitoring of two adjacent doors with a single switch and a coded magnetic actuator on each door. This saves on installation time, cabling, parts count and purchase costs. “One HED safety switch costs around half the price of two separate safety switches,” says Farrah. “So that represents a real saving for customers without compromising on safety performance.” The non-contact actuators can approach the safety switch from most angles, with a switching distance of 7mm. Safety-related specifications are PLe, CAT4 and SIL3.
Looking at the typical applications for the Mechan Controls product range, Farrah says: “We’re growing rapidly in a wide range of the most challenging applications – including concrete block manufacturing, food production, dairy plants, bottling plants and pharmaceuticals. And our reputation is building around the world; we have a network of distributors across Europe and Asia, and we are growing our number of distributors across North and South America.
“It’s been an exciting couple of years,” he concludes. “And it’s also an undoubted success story for British manufacturing. There are many areas of the world where customers will always try to buy British products, and when it comes to machinery safety we’re ensuring that Mechan Controls is ready to fulfil that need.”
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