Elevating Safety and Efficiency: Success in Machine Control Modernization

Foam Line

EDC recently modernized a foam production line for a client that specializes in the development and production of advanced wound care materials, enhancing safety features without extensive control system changes. Key safety components, including a door access interlock, a cable operated switch and emergency stop buttons, were integrated with a new safety controller. The project also included a provision for comprehensive schematics, previously incomplete and written in Chinese. EDC’s efforts ensured compliance, improved efficiency, and boosted the client’s global competitiveness.

Whether your machinery is aging or from abroad, placing a priority on safety can protect your workforce and offer a clear path for future enhancements. A recent project involving a client’s imported wound care foam production line, shipped from Asia to the U.S., highlights how a machine’s safe operation can be improved without major control system overhauls. EDC’s swift initiative, with only one week of on-site implementation, added crucial safety measures while ensuring continual efficiency to the production line. Not only did the project enhance safety, but it also provided comprehensive schematics, facilitating future improvements. 


Solving Safety Challenges

Upon the equipment’s arrival from overseas, it became evident to the client that the safety standards of the machinery for the foam production line did not meet U.S. machinery safety requirements. A key element to the upgrade was the addition of a safety controller, ensuring that all safety components were properly coordinated and monitored across various sections of the line. The controller makes certain that a malfunction of any of the safety devices prevents the foam line from operating until the issue is resolved or the fault cleared. The controller analyzes real-time status of the safety devices and initiates emergency shutdowns when necessary.

In conjunction with implementation of the safety controller, additional failsafe components were installed where none were present. Previously a padlock was used on a door to an access point near a critical area of the machine’s production process. When the padlock was removed to access the area, the machine could potentially be run with the doors wide open.

New HMI with Safety Monitor Screen

To solve this, EDC introduced a safety interlock system from Fortress Safety that features a solenoid interlock. This device prevents a door from opening without first engaging a stop button or a supervisor’s override button, requiring deliberate action be taken to access the area. The safety controller ensured that once the door was opened, the machine could not be operated. 

Next, a cable-operated switch, which functions as an emergency stop, was installed at the Rewind end of the line. Operators could also take advantage of the device’s E-stop button, located at knee-level, for additional safety control. 

Finally, all existing E-stop buttons were replaced with late model equivalents with up-to-date safety ratings. A dual channel E-stop string tied to the safety controller ensured the utmost in failsafe reliability.  Status of all safety components was displayed on a newly installed HMI ensuring operators are informed and have multiple ways to take immediate action in case of an emergency. 


Empowering Safety and Efficiency

The project relied on advanced technological components provided by distributor Shingle & Gibb, including: 

Banner XS26-2 Safety Controller: The heart of the safety integration, this controller monitors all connected components and ensures safe operation of the line.

Siemens PLC (S7-1200): A programmable logic controller (PLC) that works in tandem with the safety controller, communicating status information to be displayed on the HMI. 

Siemens SIMATIC Comfort Panel HMI: The HMI serves as the interactive hub where operators can monitor and control the machine. It displays real-time warnings and alarms, further bolstering safety.

Siemens Safety E-stop Buttons: Mushroom head, twist E-stops with the latest EN ISO 13850 safety certification.

Banner RP-LS42F Series Cable Operated Switch: Commonly referred to as a “rope pull,” this device provides an E-stop function over a wide area of the machine that can be actuated by a hand, knee or foot.

Fortress Safety Interlock: This switch is critical in safeguarding operators and machinery by preventing unauthorized access during operation.

Cable Operated Safety Switch at Rewind

Timeline and Deliverables

The entire project took a few weeks over the course of approximately three months to complete, with one crucial week of on-site installation work. During this on-site phase, the team installed and wired all the safety components, tested the programs and conducted extensive testing to ensure proper functionality.

Also included as a project deliverable was a full set of schematic drawings for all new components and the line’s existing devices that did not change. EDC’s provision of machine schematics built upon the client’s current documentation and improved the understanding for the control system, providing a valuable tool for not only troubleshooting and routine maintenance but also for making future modifications to the control system. Offering the client the option to receive detailed drawings and schematics allowed them to gain a clear image of the equipment’s connectivity, enhancing safety, reducing downtime, and creating opportunities for additional projects. 


Beyond Compliance

By modernizing an imported machine with a series of well-thought-out safety controls, EDC ensured that the client’s equipment met local and national compliance requirements without a major control system overhaul. Operational efficiency was improved by employing a Banner Safety Controller, Siemens PLC and an intuitive HMI that provided operators with real-time information about the machine’s status. By investing in modernization and implementing safety controls, the client was able to mitigate risks, protect their workforce, and meet the highest safety standards – all while maintaining their production efficiency and competitiveness in the global market. 

Safety requirements apply to all types of production equipment. Contact us to discuss your machine modernization or safety compliance project.