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Interface integrates functional safety

22 June 2007

AS-Interface has been around since the early 1990’s and its benefits, including cutting the costs of installation and commissioning, for machinery and panel wiring, are now well-established. The integration of functional safety onto the same network, using AS-Interface Safe (or ‘Safety at Work’ as it is known), has simplified machinery wiring and cuts costs further.

The result is that AS-Interface and AS-Interface Safe have seen a worldwide growth in the past few years; not just in the number of units sold, but also the number of industries using them, the type of applications they are used in, and the number of manufacturers producing these products.

Peter Cheetham, Technical Director of Sigmapi Systems Limited, recently gave a paper at the British Automation and Robotics Association (BARA) Machine Safety Conference (on 21 June, 2007) entitled “For Safety at Work: Use Safety at Work”, which highlighted how successful AS-Interface has become. With over 13 million AS-Interface units in the field and a continually growing global market of over 270 million Euros per year, the technology is certainly becoming very popular. The AS-Interface Safe market has sold in excess of 350,000 AS-Interface Safe units functioning in some 50,000 safety networks.

AS-Interface Safe allows safety systems to be produced up to CAT 4 and SIL 3, with a guaranteed worst case shutdown time. All of the usual safety scenarios (including zoning and separation of different safety functions) can be provided on the same AS-Interface network. It is all programmed and configured with drag-and-drop software, before being password protected against unauthorised changes. Not only that, but if you have an existing AS-Interface control and monitoring system then AS-Interface Safe can be added to it using the existing cabling.

Full monitoring and diagnostics, which came as standard with AS-Interface, not only carry over to AS-Interface Safe but have added information available specific to the safety functionality. Sigmapi Systems make this even easier by adding their own touch screen HMI which displays the information in a form that allows even untrained personnel to understand the system (for example, easy identification of which guard switch has been tripped), minimising downtime.

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