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A dynamic approach to safety in smart manufacturing

31 October 2023

While Industry 4.0 (I4.0) sees reduced risk in several areas, the range and flexibility of connected interfaces introduce a new set of issues. As production facilities become more complex, operators must manage a rapidly evolving system that incorporates multiple interdependencies, while minimising downtime. It is therefore vital to consider the shifting landscape of risk, which is why I4.0 requires a new risk management approach that is customised to each actual use case.

As the increased flexibility created by I4.0 systems introduces new complexities and challenges, there is a shift from static risk assessment to dynamic risk assessment. Analysing the underlying physical and cyber risks to humans, property, and the environment is therefore a challenging task. Tackling safety issues by using a conventional static risk assessment approach would require time-consuming reiterations for every changing condition, which could potentially result in operational downtime. 

Machinery safety standards define a set of general physical hazards that are used during type certification. However, current standards, such as ‘ISO 12100 – Safety of machinery – General principles for design – Risk assessment and risk reduction’, have not been designed around the concept of machine connectivity and interoperability.

While hazards depend on the intended use and other limits of the machine in the physical world, conventional safety concepts do not consider the sources and effects of cyber threats that could create new hazards. Another limitation related to hazards is that safety measures are designed to protect only human health using a ‘worst-case’ approach. 

Read the full article in DPA's November issue

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