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Safe Electrical Practices Ensure Smooth Machine Operation

Packaging machinery, electrical components, and control systems have their own distinct standards that can be critical for machine safety and beneficial for sales.

Following electrical standards in machine development can mitigate damage to property and harm to workers in operation.
Following electrical standards in machine development can mitigate damage to property and harm to workers in operation.
PMMI Business Intelligence: 2023 The Impact of Global and Local Standards on OEMs & Suppliers

Careless design of packaging machinery electrical components can make for shocking disruption to operations. Luckily, safe electrical practices and standards take the guesswork out of the design process.

In the E.U., two major electrical directives are likely to affect packaging machinery, says PMMI Business Intelligence’s 2023 report “The Impact of Global and Local Standards on OEMs and Suppliers.” They are the Low Voltage Directive and the Electromagnetic Compatibility Directive.

Standards to follow for safe electrical practices

New and second-hand equipment with an electrical supply within the scope of the Low Voltage Directive must follow its requirements to prevent harm from mechanical, thermal, and electrical hazards. 

However, the more detailed essential requirements in the broader E.U. Machinery Directive, which applies to most packaging machinery, supersede those in the Low Voltage Directive when applicable.

As with the Machinery Directive, compliance documentation is required for the Low Voltage Directive, according to PMMI’s 2007 Guide to the Key European Directives for Packaging Machinery – Fourth Edition.

The Electromagnetic Compatibility Directive, also likely to impact packaging machines as the 2007 guide explains, sets emissions and immunity requirements for new electrical apparatus and fixed installations.

Special care must be taken to ensure the electromagnetic environment will not negatively affect the use of cell phones or communication radios or vice versa. It’s also important to be aware of any radio frequency-emitting production equipment, like plastic sealers or welders, that will be operating nearby.

Control systems guidance

ISO 13849 ensures safety-related parts of control systems meet performance requirements.ISO 13849 ensures safety-related parts of control systems meet performance requirements.PMMI Business Intelligence: 2023 The Impact of Global and Local Standards on OEMs & SuppliersControl systems fall under ISO 13849-1:2015 Safety of Machinery – Safety-Related Parts of Control Systems – Part 1: General Principles of Design. This standard provides safety requirements and guidance for the design and integration of safety-related parts of control systems (SRP/CS), including software. It also specifies characteristics such as the performance level required for carrying out safety functions. 

The ISO 13849 standard applies to SRP/CS for high demand and continuous mode, regardless of the type of technology and energy used (electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, mechanical, etc.). It takes quite a bit of engineering time to learn the requirements.

Although this ISO standard is not regulatory, end users often specify it even though other methods are more widely used and accepted, say Bruce Main and Fred Hayes in their 2022 visual presentation, “Risk Assessment: Implications for the Leadership Team.”

It should be noted that as with risk assessment for machinery, validation is the final step to verify SRP/CS performs as designed and expected.

Validation can include but is not limited to confirming the circuit was designed and implemented correctly, the wiring was checked after installation and before commissioning, the functionality of the safety system(s) was validated by the integrator and/or the end user, and the safety device was functionally tested before commissioning.

In addition, the user should test the SRP/CS periodically to confirm that they are functioning according to the manufacturer’s specifications as determined by the risk assessment process.

SOURCE: PMMI Business Intelligence, "2023 The Impact of Global and Local Standards on OEMs & Suppliers"

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