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Drive safety monitor can cut machine downtime

08 January, 2014

The German sensor manufacturer Sick has announced a safety device designed to monitor machine movements rather than simply initiating shutdowns, thus reducing unnecessary downtime. The FX3-MOC Drive Monitor – part of Sick’s Flexi Soft modular safety control system – can monitor multiple axes.

The monitor is suitable for both stationary and mobile machine safety applications – especially for machines that need frequent intervention and where maintaining a controlled speed is beneficial to continued safe operation.

For example, the monitor allows operators to reach into a machine at reduced risk without having to power it off. It can also be used alongside safety laser scanners on automated guided vehicles to monitor the vehicles’ movements.

The device can monitor up to ten speeds and four brake ramps. It offers seven drive safety functions: two Safe Stops (1 and 2); SOS (safe operating stop); SSM (safe speed monitor); SLS (safety limited speed); SDI (safe direction); and SBC (safe brake control).

The module operates on the principle of safe motion monitoring, rather than deactivation, says Sick UK’s machinery safety specialist, Dr Martin Kidman.

The Drive Monitor is part of Sick's Flexi Soft modular safety control system

“The Drive Monitor reduces time-consuming maintenance and set-up procedures since the machine sequence does not have to be stopped completely,” he explains. “In contrast to conventional solutions, protective doors can open immediately after the Drive Monitor has detected that the machine has stopped, and not only after a pre-determined time.

“The Safe Stop 2 function means that if an operator reaches into a monitored hazardous point, the drives are stopped but remain under power,” Kidman adds. “A quick restart is ensured without having the reference the drives again.”

The monitor acts as an expansion module in Sick's Flexi Soft system and up to six of the monitors can be handled by one Flexi Soft controller. They can be configured using the free Flexi Soft Designer engineering software, which can import predefined applications.

The device monitors functions in accordance with IEC 61800-5-2 and is suitable for use with AC and DC, servo and stepper motors and other types of drive. It is compatible with common fieldbus protocols, and can be integrated with higher-level PLCs in combination with a Flexi Soft safety controller. It supports all standard encoder and motor feedback interfaces.

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