Industry 4.0 and Safety Regulations

Rexroth identified connectivity as one of the major themes in packaging automation right now. That’s not the most amazing piece of information we could share with you.

But there’s an area in which connectivity can have enormous importance — and it’s not getting a lot of press.

We’re talking about safety regulations.

Take for example REACH2018, the European Union’s new chemical regulatory system. As you might expect, it requires chemical companies, as well as companies that import chemicals for use in things like cosmetics and household goods, to be transparent about the way their chemicals are being used. The companies have to share information about the substances they’re using, how they can affect human beings, and all the ways people are exposed to those chemicals.

If you’re focused on packaging, you might not think this matters much. In fact, companies are responsible all along their supply chains. You use p-phenylenediamine in hair dye? The company that makes it, your company, and everyone in between has to follow the rules if you want to sell your product in the EU.

What does this have to do with automation? Machinery that collects data in the factory can provide proof that, for example, workers are not exposed to p-phenylenediamine at any point during the packaging process. This information can be shared with other stakeholders in the cloud.

If there is human exposure, then machines can provide the information from the required safety data sheets to those human workers — in the appropriate language, based on the operators’ badges, which can include information about their native languages.

Rexroth is just one of the many companies that are working hard to make automation safer. Connectivity allows a higher level of safety outside of the potential danger of the machines themselves.

Keep your machines in good working order for maximum safety, and remember that many legacy modules can be retrofitted for connectivity. We’re Rexroth electric motion control experts.  Contact us to discuss your needs.

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