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Quick reaction times improve both safety and productivity

What do safety functions in automation have in common with airbags? The reaction time. Airbags trigger within just under 50 milliseconds – at a speed of 200 km/h, this is too slow because the car will cover a number of meters in this time. Drivers should therefore drive much more slowly. When it comes to the reaction times of safety functions in automation, the situation is usually similar. At least up until now. After all, our new ctrlX SAFETY technology reacts up to ten times faster. This means that machine manufacturers and users can safely turn quicker movements into productivity and at the same time save space – further proof that we’re Two Steps Ahead with ctrlX AUTOMATION!

10 times faster reaction times

Why is it so important that ctrlX SAFETY functions are activated more quickly than those in any other automation solution? For decades, the reaction times of conventional safe fieldbuses have been 40 to 60 milliseconds. However, the drive technology has advanced considerably. Today’s linear and rotatory motors now achieve much better dynamics than they did at the end of the millennium. They cover greater distances in a given time than they used to. In order to ensure safety with seemingly given trigger times, designers either have to reduce the dynamics or protect people by ensuring that they maintain a greater safety clearance from machine movements. Safety equipment such as light curtains are installed further away from the process and the machines take up more space in factory halls. However, users are demanding not only safe but also ever smaller machines.

This is where ctrlX SAFETY comes in. We’ve reduced the reaction time to just 5 ms. As a result, machine manufacturers can make machine movements much more dynamic and increase productivity while improving safety. At the same time, the distance between people and machines can be reduced without hazards. This saves space in the hall and thus fulfills another wish on the part of users.

ctrlX SAFETY: Safety in ctrlX DRIVE with no extra space required

We consider this progress when it comes to the reaction time so important that it forms part of the entire ctrlX SAFETY system: from an entry-level solution to a complex system solution, from the drive-integrated SafeMotion software to the SafeLogic safety control system for complete machines. With quicker reaction times and an even lower engineering outlay, we’ve further developed our proven SafeMotion and SafeLogic solutions to ensure a standardized level of safety.

One practical feature: all ctrlX DRIVE drives have Safe Torque OFF (STO) with the quick reaction time on board – with no need for additional hardware or software. If the application demands safe movements in accordance with the safety integrity levels SIL2 and SIL3, developers can easily add SafeMotion with ctrlX DRIVEplus – with no need for extra space. Certified functions for safe positions and safe speeds can also be selected. Because this full range of functions is available on the drive level, there is no need for manufacturers to program the control system. This results in noticeable benefits during everyday use: With an individual drive, safety functions react even if the control system is unable to intervene when the machine is being started up or during commissioning.

Via the SAFETYlink bus, users can also combine a number of drives to form a safe group and thus switch groups of axes to a safe state – once again, the quick reaction times are maintained. As a result, machine modules can be worked on efficiently and in accordance with the relevant standards without having to shut down the entire system.

ctrlX SAFETY: The most connective small safety control system

On the next automation level up, ctrlX SAFETY (SafeLogic) takes over the safety tasks. With its tiny dimensions, it is an extremely compact piece of hardware with a width of just 60 mm. When it comes to selecting the safety functions, it is the most connective system available on the market, offering three communication options: If users select SAFETYlink, they use the quickest variant and the one that can be put into operation the most easily. However, engineers can also achieve safety communication via an Ethernet-based protocol such as EtherCAT (FSoE). The STO function in ctrlX DRIVE or other drives can also be selected via a secure I/O. Incidentally, ctrlX SAFETY (SafeLogic) integrates more I/Os than any other solution, in spite of its compact dimensions.

Whether you choose SafeMotion or SafeLogic, ctrlX SAFETY helps to reduce your engineering outlay like all other ctrlX AUTOMATION products. We’ve made it easier to produce programs for SafeLogic with a graphical programming system for the safety logic. At the same time, intelligent software modules simplify parameterization. The software also supports safety engineers with dialogs during the acceptance test. Existing safety solutions can be integrated into various machine concepts with no major changes. It also reduces the outlay during operation: A light pipe shows at a glance whether there are any faults and serves as a diagnostic portal.

Future-proof thanks to updates

ctrlX SAFETY is particularly future-proof as the safety functions can be updated to allow compatibility with more modern technology throughout the lifecycle of a machine. Naturally, this is only possible after clear authentication. The updates have no effect on the rest of the system and require no work on the machine control system. As a result, end-users can enjoy the very latest safety technology in the future too and protect their employees.

Quicker and more productive

In cars, modern safety features such as airbags protect the driver and passengers better than ever before. In the field of automation, designers don’t have to make do with conventional systems – they can take advantage of the progress achieved in the area of machine safety for quicker reaction times. With the quickest safety technology available on the market, they can overcome previous restrictions in dynamics owing to safety reasons. At the same time, they can increase productivity with very little outlay and provide optimum protection for commissioning engineers, operators and service technicians.


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Portrait view of Volker Schlotz, Game Changer ctrlX AUTOMATION

Volker Schlotz

Game Changer


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