Increasing Safety with Increasing Automation

Worker deaths have decreased from 38 per day in 1970 to 13 a day in 2020, nationwide. What else has changed since 1970? Well, in 1971 microprocessors were invented, leading to increasing use of computers. This followed the 1969 invention of the 6-axis robotic arm, and the two innovations led to far greater automation in factories worldwide.

Europe developed useful robots in the 1970s, and the first programmable logic controller for machines was invented. Technological innovations among companies like Rexroth have grown exponentially since then.

For example, it was in 1979 that Rexroth Indramat developed the first maintenance-free brushless servo motors. Robots became more important and Rexroth was part of the vanguard in drive and control software in the ’90s. These innovations allowed full transfer lines and greater flexibility.

When networked manufacturing became practical with the beginning of Industry 4.0 in the early 20th century, automation allowed greater productivity and more comfortable workflow.

Automation of dangerous tasks made an enormous difference to worker safety at the end of the 20th century and since.

Safety first

At the same time, greater awareness of workplace dangers has made changes in human beings’ approaches to workplace safety. Unions and worker activism made safety a primary factor in decision making in manufacturing. A more proactive approach among employers has created safer work environments.

Government agencies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), have implemented stricter rules and regulations to ensure safe working conditions. OSHA was established in December of 1970 as part of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, in response to public outcry against the dangers of jobs in manufacturing, mining, and other trades.

Technological advancements have enabled the implementation of safety monitoring systems, including sensors, alarms, and automated shut-off mechanisms, which can help prevent accidents. Effective safety sensors and systems have become commonplace.

In spite of COVID, injuries and illnesses also fell, from 10.9 per 100 workers in 1970 to 2.7 per 100 in 2020.

Rexroth has been around not just since the 1970s, but since the 1700s. The company has seen amazing levels of change. But Rexroth still makes the best motion control systems on the planet, and we continue to specialize in Rexroth drive and control systems. Call us whenever you need support or service for your industrial electric Rexroth motion control components, new or old.

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