Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Directive 2006/42/EC

The new machinery directive - how to play safe!

Festo has introduced a one-day orientation course for machine builders struggling to interpret the latest requirements of the new Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC.

Following the decision of the EC Machinery Working Group to extend the transition period of the existing EN 954-1 safety standard beyond its expected end-of-life deadline of December 2009, but for an unspecified amount of time, machine designers and builders now face the dilemma of which safety standard to use. Should they stick with EN 954-1, even though its time is running out, or embrace its successor, EN ISO 13849-1, despite its apparent complexity?

Steve Sands, Festo’s Product Manager, is unequivocal about the right course of action, “We all need to fully commit to the production world’s ideal of zero machine-related accidents. Although machine builders will continue to benefit from EN 954-1’s presumption of conformity for a while, a much better way of complying with both the intention and the spirit of Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC is to adopt the new EN ISO 13849-1 safety standard now, and move forward together. This does not need to be as onerous as it has been portrayed to be – Festo, along with other leading automation component companies, is placing significant resources at the disposal of its customers.”

Festo has identified ten functions where pneumatic safety measures can be implemented on machines, to help ensure compliance with the new EN ISO 13849-1 safety standard. The company is in the process of rolling out specific products and services to implement these measures, and has already launched a series of valve manifolds with built-in proximity sensors for position sensing/movement reversal, and a range of fail-safe brake units for pneumatic actuators.

The new one-day orientation course, ‘Understanding the new machine directive’ has been created by Festo Didactic, the training and consulting division of Festo, in direct response to issues highlighted by customers. It provides an overview of the key aspects and implications of Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC, including risk assessment, analysis and evaluation as required by the new EN ISO 13849-1 safety standard – and will be of particular benefit to machine designers and builders, as well as maintenance personnel.

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