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Enabling safer operator-machine interactions through enhanced control of machine stoppages

03 February 2021

As packaging line machinery has become more sophisticated, it’s also become more complex. This increased complexity, coupled with a high number of interactions between operators and machines, increases the potential for safety incidents.

In the packaging world, for example, production lines may stop for manual loading 10-30 times per shift, each time necessitating some form of interaction that exposes operators to possible risk and increases the potential for a safety incident.

Guarding against these risks isn’t easy; when changes are made to improve a machine’s safety, operations can become even more complex or more restrictive. These safety measures often incorporate procedures to stop machine operation, isolate energy, resolve issues and restart processes – all of which translate into lost production time. Frustrated by these disruptions, operators may look to bypass safety measures to keep the line moving and meet throughput expectations – exposing themselves to unnecessary risk in the process.

The consequences can be significant: an operation can experience damage to equipment, unforeseen costs, loss of productivity from shutdowns – and most seriously, injury to its personnel and even loss of life. A recent study by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reveals manufacturing accounted for 26 percent of all reported hospitalisations and 57 percent of all reported amputations – the highest proportions for all industries.

Read the full article in the February issue of DPA.

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