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'First' radar safety system copes with tough environments

23 September, 2019

Pilz has joined forces with the Italian radar specialist Inxpect to offer what they claim is the world’s first for monitoring safety protection zones, based on radar technology. The technology immune to dust, rain, light, sparks or even shocks, allowing safe, economical monitoring of protection zones in tough environments – such as dusty woodworking plants – where optoelectronic technologies may not work.

The system comprises up to six radar sensors from Inxpect’s LBK safe radar system and Pilz’s PNOZmulti 2 configurable safety controller. If the protection zone is violated, the controller triggers a reaction.

The safety functions offered by the system include a “detection” function, which switches a machine to a safe state if a danger zone is violated, and a restart interlock, which prevents the machine from starting automatically if there is anyone in the danger zone.

The protection zones can be set up as wide or narrow, depending on the application. A wide zone covers a horizontal angle of 110 degrees and a vertical angle of 30 degrees, while a narrow zone covers 50 degrees horizontally and 15 degrees vertically. The zones depend on the installed height of the sensors and their inclination. The maximum protected depth is 4m.

The protected area can be increased by connecting up to six radar sensors in series, up to 2.5m apart. Areas up to 15 x 4m can be protected. Different sensor layouts support various protection zone shapes, including circular. Integrated muting can be applied either to individual sensors or complete systems.

The safety system combines Inxpect’s safe radar system (left) with Pilz’s PNOZmulti 2 safety controller (right).

A tool is available for choosing and configuring the sensors. It allows additional warning zones to be configured to alert operators about approaching objects.

Inxpect’s FMCW (frequency modulated continuous wave) radar technology operates at a frequency of 24–24.25GHz and has a maximum reaction time of 100ms. It can be used for applications up to SIL 2, PL d and Category 2.

Typical applications for the radar safety system are expected to include heavy industries, where dirt, dust, swarf or welding sparks, bright lights and shock are present. Outdoors, it could safeguard cranes, conveyor systems, ports and storage facilities, even in fog, snow or moderate rain.

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