Interlocks get networked
Fortress Interlocks is integrating AS-interface (AS-i) and Profisafe (Profibus Safety or Profinet Safety) connectivity into its tGard and amGardpro interlocks. The company is also developing non-contact switches and output signal switching devices which can be incorporated into its tGard and amGardpro units.
Most interlocks are either not electrically connected (deliberately so in the case of some mechanical, trapped key interlocks) or are 'wired at gate', meaning all electrical connections go via a control PLC and safety relay. This can mean up to 20 wires from each device going to the control panel. To overcome this scenario, Fortress has developed a number of products that utilise either AS-i industrial networking or Profisafe communication technology.
AS-i is an industrial networking platform used in PLC, DCS and PC-based automation systems. It is designed to connect simple field I/O devices in manufacturing or process applications using a single 2-conductor cable. AS-i connectivity dramatically reduces the number of wires required, making it possible, for example, to 'daisy chain' to up to 62 devices to one control panel.
Profisafe is a safety communication technology for distributed automation. It is designed as a separate layer on top of the fieldbus application layer to reduce the probability of data transmission errors. It allows operators to have just one power and Ethernet cable going from the control panel, allowing devices to be attached in a variety of topologies, depending on requirements.
Fortress in now integrating AS-i and/or Profisafe connectivity into key safety products. Both the tGard and amGardpro ranges will have AS-i networking, while the amGardpro will also be available with Profisafe. A standalone non-contact switch with an AS-i version is another new product; this will also be integrated into the tGard and amGardpro ranges in the future. Finally n output signal switching device will be incorporated into the tGard and amGardpro.
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