Marrying Safety and Control

April 5th, 2013 by

By Andy The

Safety and control have always been critical aspects of industrial applications, but only until recently have they joined forces.

Historically, safety systems have been kept separate from the control system.  Separate buses, wiring, and devices were required to insure that the safety and control subsystems were never in conflict.  Unfortunately these separate subsystems added cost and complexity, as well as limitations to the overall system.

Advancements in industrial communications (i.e. EtherCAT) and intelligent drives have made the integration of safety and control feasible.

EtherCAT is an Ethernet based bus that integrates both the safety and communications on a single bus.  Drive manufacturers like Omron and Yaskawa are also manufacturing EtherCAT based drives that leverage both the safety and communications on a single Ethernet connection.  This tight combination of safety and control allows for high speed/high accuracy control and safety all on a single backplane.  Now motors can start and stop on demand either to manufacture a part or to save a life.

Here is an interesting article from 

DesignNews, detailing the benefits of combining safety and control.

Thanks to new high speed bus technologies like EtherCAT and safety integrated drives, industrial automation can now deliver more cost effective solutions that are both incredibly powerful and incredibly safe.



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