When selecting stretch wrapping equipment, CAT-3 safety is a logical choice for businesses looking to automate, while maintaining a safe, injury free, work environment
As the demand for throughput in production, warehouse, and distribution facilities increases, more and more companies are looking to automate their processes. This often incudes integration of automatic stretch wrappers into the production flow. When selecting an automatic stretch wrapper or other automation equipment, worker or operator safety should be an important part of the decision-making process. For those who are new to automation, trying to understand what safety features are included with a standard machine may be confusing, unless you understand the basic categories of safety ratings.
There are many safety ratings such as Category B, Category 1, 2 or 3. Of these Category 3 (CAT-3) is the safest rating. Category 3 refers to machines that are designed to not only check for faults, but also designed with redundant circuits for all safety functions. In many ways CAT-3 builds on less stringent Category ratings like B, 1 & 2. Looking at these ratings is a good starting point to appreciating what sets CAT-3 apart.
In Category B and Category 1, the designs are dependent upon the reliability of the system or circuit components. Simply put, in the case of a component failure or system failure, the failure could also affect the safety function.
Category 2 design criteria on the other hand, requires detection of faults at regular intervals. As the machine powers up and at other pre-determined intervals after that, there is a scan to see if any component failures exist. The challenge of course, is that if there is a failure or fault between scans, it could be a fault or failure that affects the safety function. In other words, safety functions are again at risk of failure between scans. This type of design criteria does consider that components will fail, and it looks to detect the failures before unsafe operating conditions occur.
Category 3 builds upon the principles in Category 2 of monitoring or scanning for faults, but it adds redundancy. The machine is designed to have two circuits to maintain the safety functions. This means that if there is a fault on one circuit, there is a secondary circuit that ensures the safety function remains operational until the fault is detected. For the safety circuit to fail completely, the machine would have to have faults on both circuits in between scans.
This means every door switch, E-Stop, and safety switch is designed in such a way that if there is a fault on a circuit, there is a redundant circuit which ensures the safety function will always work when needed. This design principle also extends to motion or air elements. They too have redundant circuits to ensure that if an operator activates a safety function that it does not fail due to a circuit fault.
While purchasing automated equipment with Category 3 safety measures may add to the initial equipment investment, Category 3 safety is a logical choice for businesses looking to automate, while maintaining a safe, injury free, work environment.
For additional information on stretch wrapping equipment with CAT-3 systems in place take a look at Orion’s Automatic Stretch Wrappers. Taking the extra steps to provide enhanced safety has made these wrappers the stretch wrappers of choice for companies looking to improve throughput through automation, while ensuring employee safety.