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Proving that safety need not compromise flexibility

Proving that safety need not compromise flexibility Nestlé has chosen openSAFETY as its safety standard for packaging machines. Here we discuss the design decision, and look at some of the solutions available for the implementation of openSAFETY networks.

On the one hand, large international companies such as Nestlé rely on a flexible choice of machines from various manufacturers. On the other hand, most machine producers have chosen one specific automation platform, which means that users who install different machine types need to integrate different control systems and bus systems into one line. Nestlé works with a number of leading automation suppliers who use PROFINET, EtherNet/IP, SERCOS III and POWERLINK for their controllers.

A Nestlé engineering team in Switzerland has prepared the pilot implementation of a packaging line in cooperation with these automation suppliers in order to develop manufacturer-independent standards for the integration of different control systems. The team is focusing on the use of open communication technologies.

The project has two key goals: firstly, creating a specification for packaging machines in accordance with the packaging machine language PackML. PackML is a guideline for open, modular automation architectures issued by the OMAC user group (Organisation for Machine Automation and Control) whose state model stipulates an integrated administration of all operating modes in packaging machines. With that basis, the team will develop standard libraries for each control system and make them available to machine builders at the end of the project. Secondly, Nestlé will introduce an openSAFETY-based safety standard which is independent of the controller and bus system, and which allows for the unrestricted exchange of safety-related information between machines and control systems from various manufacturers.

A tried-and-tested safety protocol, openSAFETY has been certified for use in systems with a SIL 3 safety integrity level by the German testing authorities TÜV Rheinland and TÜV Süd. High-performance safety solutions based on openSAFETY have been used in series production applications since 2008. Importantly, openSAFETY is independent of the bus system and interoperable with all transport protocols thanks to the black channel principle. This means that any transport protocol can be used to transfer the safety-oriented data which is packed in a special frame format. For demonstration purposes, the POWERLINK user organisation EPSG has already implemented openSAFETY for all communication systems used by Nestlé, ie PROFINET, SERCOS III, EtherNet/IP and POWERLINK, and additionally for Modbus TCP.

Bryan Griffen, global head of electrical and automation engineering at Nestlé Corporate Engineering, explains openSAFETY's advantages: "Nestlé uses automation and safety components from various manufacturers. An integrated standard for safety communication allows for a reliable transfer of safety data within the complete plant, irrespective of the manufacturer of its components. Additionally, the standard also facilitates engineering with regard to system design, commissioning, and maintenance and diagnosis of the safety systems."

B&R is a leading developer for openSAFETY, and argues that safety need not compromise productivity or flexibility. Safety shut-offs, for example, do not always have to involve a full machine shutdown. Smart, safe reactions to various situations provide safety without having to stop the production process. Intelligent, decentralised and integrated safety technology that is simple to operate and that achieves extremely fast response times opens up an entirely new range of machine safety concepts.

B&R's Integrated Safety Technology provides an innovative solution for machine manufacturing that integrates safety seamlessly into the standard control system and eliminates the need for extra wiring. With safety components such as the SafeLOGIC controllers, safe drives and safety I/O implemented using openSAFETY, modular machines benefit since the ready-to-use machine components can simply be connected as a single unit.

New additions to the B&R range of Integrated Safety Technology safety products for openSAFETY that embrace the concept of smart, safe reactions include the X20 SafeIO series. A safe method of recording position and movement which is vital to the implementation of safety-related functions, and the safe drive interfaces from the X20SD series provide the perfect solution to the challenge. Their functions can be used independently or as a supplement to the safe motion control functions provided by the ACOPOSmulti SafeMC technology.

The X20SD1207 is the first module in this series with four safe counter channels. These counter channels can be configured to record events or speed values. In ABR mode, they can provide safe evaluation of incremental encoder signals. The counter channels have similar properties to safe digital inputs, allowing free channels to be used as such. Signals are processed autonomously within the module and the resulting data is available as safe variables in the safety application. True to the principles of integrated safety technology, the functional application on the CPU also has read-access to this data.

The signals on the counter channels undergo 4x sampling. The resulting signal frequencies are processed safely using the preprogrammed blocks in B&R's SafeDESIGNER software. As an integral component of the Automation Studio development environment, SafeDESIGNER ensures safety and reliability when programming sensitive functions for the protection of equipment and personnel. All modifications to safety systems are completely protected by a restrictive change process.
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