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SICK Safeguard Detector Solves Common Safety Problem for Packaging Machinery

20 June 2016

An automated safety solution to solve a common problem on packaging machines has been developed by industrial safety specialists SICK. The Safeguard Detector Core protects operators from being injured if they reach in to refill an empty or nearly empty carton magazine while the machine is still running. 

Explains Dr. Martin Kidman, SICK UK Safety Specialist: “SICK has combined its expertise in sensing and safety technologies to tackle an all too common problem: A machine operator is protected from being injured as long as the magazine contains material. That protection is gone as soon as the magazine is empty.

“There is a risk that operators may look to avoid stopping the machine, because of the consequent downtime and loss of work flow, and reach into the empty mechanism whilst easily defeating any safety system, if one even exists. With the SICK Safeguard Detector, a warning alarm is triggered when the minimum material fill level is reached and the machine shuts off automatically when the magazine is critically low or empty.”

The SICK Safeguard Detector is easy to retrofit into existing machinery and just as simple for machine developers to incorporate into new designs, offering a more cost-effective and flexible option than cumbersome and costly mechanical protection. By combining photoelectric sensors and the SICK Flexi Soft, it provides quick-fit certified protection to PLd (EN ISO 13849) for any printing, packaging and carton machinery with flat sheet feeding.

Two SICK MultiPulse, MultiTask photoelectric sensors are mounted easily on the side of the machine to monitor the amount of material in the magazine. The sensors’ compact and rugged housing means they can be fitted into a small space and their excellent background and foreground suppression guards against the possibility of false signals.

The Safeguard Detector will detect sheets and cartons with a very wide range of colours and can easily accommodate carton changes. With a detection range of between 30mm and 100mm, the system is suitable for a wide range of packaging machines.

Controlled by a SICK Flexi Soft safety controller, the Safeguard Detector is simple to teach in or reconfigure. The solution is TUV certified to provide immediate protection to SIL2 (EN 62061) and PLd (EN ISO 13849) and therefore reduces the need for a separate safety assessment, saving time, paperwork and costs.

An added benefit is that SICK Flexi Soft controller on the Safeguard Detector can also be used for additional automation and safety functions such as door monitoring or for connecting electro-sensitive protective equipment (ESPE’S) such as safety light curtains or safety laser scanners.

Adds Martin Kidman: “The Safeguard Detector solution means there’s no need for elaborate extensions to the magazine, safety cages or complicated sensor arrangements which can be easily defeated. EN 415-7 for packaging machines advocates maintaining a minimum distance to the aperture in a machine guard by building a tunnel. As well as being expensive, these are not flexible when different sheet sizes are required, they can obstruct workspace access which could be a safety problem on their own and if the material is big enough it could be possible to crawl into the machine.”

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