ACS Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Robotics and PLC Safety

Safety Standards and PLCs

We have a new directive that all new production lines need to meet European ISO standards. What does that entail? How do we get started?

We’re seeing these sorts of directives more often. The first step is conducting a risk assessment to identify potential machinery hazards  and provide safety recommendations that align with specified standards. We kick-off our risk assessment by consulting with you to understand your business objectives and requirements, including compliance with any specific standards. You can learn more about our risk assessment process by contacting us.

Does our risk assessment process need to change if we know what PL and SIL levels must be met?

A thorough risk assessment is still a good idea to validate the PL and SIL levels required. If they’re determined to be sufficient and appropriate, the risk assessment will recommend compliant mitigation strategies. If the risk assessment finds that different PL and SIL levels are indicated, we’ll discuss with you why it would be more appropriate to use different levels to establish the suitable mitigation strategies.

We want to integrate more robotics into our manufacturing plant but have safety concerns.

When introducing robotics, integrating the right combination of physical and PLC safeties mitigates potential hazards to maintain a safe environment. Any automated system, especially robotics, should undergo a thorough risk assessment at the front end of the design process. This ensures the design incorporates safety measures as early as possible, preventing costly retrofits and minimizing disruption to operations.

Will the cost of safety PLCs outweigh the projected savings of automation? How can we ensure a favorable ROI?

Safety PLCs and associated safety rated components and wiring requirements do add cost to an automation project. Depending on the complexity of the system, it may still be the most cost-effective way to meet OSHA or other codes and standards required for any new installation.

Safety PLC Integration

We need to upgrade existing lines to meet higher safety standards; what do we need to think about regarding integration of safety PLCs?

When making improvements to existing lines specifically for safety considerations, the use of safety PLCs is often the best option, except for the simplest of cases. The robustness and flexibility of a safety PLC allows for an easy and adaptable integration. Adapting a hardware-only solution to meet future needs is cumbersome and expensive.

Do safety PLCs create another cybersecurity vulnerability in my manufacturing plant?

Adding any network enabled device has the potential to create vulnerability. Those risks can be mitigated when the PLCs are implemented properly. This includes the use of Defense in Depth (DID) switches and firewalls between the PLC network and corporate network.