Get Safe, One Press at a Time

Modern digital controls bring stamping systems in line with today's safety standards

Comments Off on Get Safe, One Press at a Time April 9, 2009
by Jeff Ashcroft

Safety concerns continue to rise in prominence, and perhaps in no other industry is this more relevant than that of metal stamping. In the U. S. alone, power presses cause 650 worker amputations annually, says Mark Pendlebury of Newmarket, Ont.-based Reflex Integration.

“Many times, the culprits are older power presses that were built when the safety of workers was not as paramount as it is today,” he says. “Many power presses still in operation are decades old because they continue to be productive.”

Reflex Integration’s original Command Stamp unit, installed on this 1960s 80-ton Minster Press, meets the CSA Z142-02 standard.

So how do you bring these old workhorses up to today’s safety standards without breaking the bank? “Microelectronic and digital controls can monitor operation and safety devices more effectively and reliably than the antiquated controls originally supplied by the machine,” Pendlebury says. “Press controls with diverse redundancy can now be employed cost effectively to provide an extra layer of security to help prevent accidents from occurring.”

Furthermore, older controls are relatively easy for operators to defeat and many owners have been hesitant to upgrade controls out of fear of becoming liable for tampering with safety features originally designed into a machine.

“The CSA and Provincial Labour Ministries in Canada have introduced and are beginning to enforce safety codes that make the use of these modern technologies mandatory,” Pendlebury continues. “Business operators who continue to ignore these codes and recommendations run the risk of heavy penalties—if not from the government, then from legal ramifications resulting from an accident.”

In addition to improved safety, he says, upgraded press controls can increase the operational productivity. “Automated batch counting and operation, combined with simplified error messaging and troubleshooting can allow operators to more quickly understand and correct press fault conditions. And press controls with Ethernet links provide for centralized data collection, operations monitoring and die recipe control updates from PCs operating in an office.”