Downtime can be exceedingly expensive, particularly when it involves large machinery. In a recent safety-related project, Omron helped a metal forming company properly safeguard its purlin stacker without the need for a long and costly shutdown. As it turned out, the Omron F3SG-SR Series safety light curtain addressed this need perfectly.

Hazards of a large, production-critical machine

A purlin stacker handles, transports, positions, and stacks extremely large, heavy steel purlins off the end of a steel forming line so that the product can be offloaded by a forklift operator. Hazards of this type of machine include multiple heavy-duty, high-load, sprocket-driven chain conveyors, high-load scissor lifts, high-force positioning actuators, conveyance, and more.

Simply safeguarding the machine is in itself quite a challenge, but this challenge is compounded by the fact that every second of installation- or maintenance-related downtime corresponds to fewer purlins produced and less revenue to plant operations. Multiple safety devices of various types guard the machine and feed into a safety controller that controls the entire process.

Keeping production moving with flexible safety technology

The metal forming company employed a safety zoning strategy in which specific safety devices would shut down their respective areas while production would continue in all other areas that were deemed safe. Light curtains made the most sense for safeguarding each area, but it was difficult to find any that were flexible enough to meet the zones’ varying requirements.

Fortunately, the Omron F3SG-SR safety light curtain is designed to maximize flexibility and minimize installation time. The available range (30m protection range at 25mm resolution) provided the added power to cover the requisite distance and reduce customer maintenance procedures by more effectively operating through dust and dirt buildup.

The metal forming company also found value in the F3SG-SR’s Intelligent Tap module that offers diagnostic data for system maintenance and troubleshooting, including insight into percent excess gain for each beam to guide predictive (as opposed to preventive) maintenance.