For many companies, the establishment of processes and specific know-how for safety development is a major challenge. The implementation is even more difficult. Nevertheless, we are convinced that powerful safety functions will become the standard. At the electronica Embedded Platforms Conference 2020, we showed what a suitable path might look like.
Examples of product-specific safety standards in industrial automation are IEC61800-5-2 and IEC 10218-1. IEC61800-5-2 describes the safety functions for electrical drives that are in great demand today. IEC 10218-1 describes the requirements for safety functions for robots.
Many manufacturers of industrial automation devices such as drive controllers or robot controllers thus face major challenges. While well-known German suppliers, who after all were involved in the development of the standards themselves, have of course long since integrated such standard-compliant functions. Smaller and internationally based companies are left alone. This is because building up the processes and specific know-how for safety developments are mammoth tasks and often difficult to implement in the corporate culture of companies.
There are no longer any holding factors such as high costs and time for an in-house development with this solution. Smaller and international companies are thus given access to functional safety.
However, before the TÜV or similar inspectors put their stamp on such solutions, it is necessary that the integration of ready-made safety functions into products is carried out professionally and with the required care, and verified by tests and documentation. This is where a great potential for simplified digitalized processes can be seen.
Despite the challenges, we dare to hypothesize that in a few years, powerful safety functions will be standard equipment all over the world. We see two factors in this:
In a few years’ time, functions that are still available today from the hands of only a few large providers will become available to everyone at low cost. Even open source for safety functions is conceivable in the future.
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