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Functional safety in a single package

08 September 2023

Pepperl+Fuchs offers a comprehensive package covering all aspects of functional safety in mechanical and plant engineering. It is based on a broad equipment portfolio from its own production environment and comprises tailor-made safety concepts along with a structured range of training options.

In the field of functional safety in mechanical and plant engineering, technology and legal requirements are closely intertwined. In the event of non-compliance, statutory provisions entail substantial liability and even criminal consequences. It is not just plants that need to "play it safe," but their designers and operators aim to do so too. However, this task is not so straightforward: For one thing, there are a variety of guidelines and specifications to follow. Just keeping track of it all is a big challenge in itself. In addition, even relatively simple plants often require multi-level safety concepts and complex methods of calculation when it comes to implementation.

However, the end user can draw on a wide range of potential partners, such as engineering firms for functional safety and manufacturers of safety sensors, safety-related controls and safe shut-off devices. Nevertheless, certain challenges remain:

– Selecting the right sensing principle in view of the wide range of devices offered and their associated solution options
– Identifying the characteristic safety values of all components of the safety loop, since product documentation often differs
– Coordinating cooperation with multiple partners (engineering firms, different manufacturers) smoothly 
– Having personnel resources available to keep track of the further development of standards and to be able to adapt and retrofit machines and plants at any time
– Obtaining technology-independent advice, on account of the high degree of specialisation of the numerous parties involved

Pepperl+Fuchs is a pioneer in functional safety and has built up a broad product portfolio and comprehensive expertise in this area since the 1970s. To support customers, the Mannheim-based automation specialist now offers a comprehensive package for mechanical and plant engineering based on three pillars.

Safety concept

Pepperl+Fuchs provides its customers with certified functional safety experts to develop appropriate safety concepts. They know the standard specifications in depth and can develop the optimal solution for the respective application. Using tools such as SISTEMA, they can reliably determine whether the measures planned for risk reduction and the products to be used meet the required performance level or safety integrity level (PL/SIL).

The calculation does not just take the sensor technology into account — it covers the entire safety loop, including control and shutdown elements. This applies to the situation as regards retrofitting, when changes to standards make it necessary to adapt machines and plants. Consulting and development are carried out independently of certain suppliers, technologies and products — including those from our own company. Finding the best solution is the top priority.

A complete portfolio of sensors

With all that said, Pepperl+Fuchs experts are still able to draw on the company's own comprehensive range of sensors. The portfolio includes devices with many different sensing principles to solve detection, positioning and identification tasks. These include safety sensors that are unparalleled on the global market, such as USi®-safety, the only safe ultrasonic sensor with approval up to SIL 2 and PL d, or safePXV, the only positioning solution achieving SIL 3 and PL e with a single sensor.

With a suitable safety concept, sensors from the portfolio that are unsafe for use by themselves can form part of solutions for safety applications. By adopting the right approach, significant cost savings can be achieved while complying with all relevant regulations. The high quality level of industrial standard sensors from Pepperl+Fuchs plays an important role in this respect. In addition, the experts — unlike the engineering firms — can not only draw on data sheets when developing safety concepts, but on the full breadth of internal development knowledge of a large sensor manufacturer. This allows the devices to be seamlessly integrated into the respective machine and safety concept.

Education and further training

Functional safety can only be established and maintained in the long term if the responsible personnel are aware of the essential requirements and understand the contexts. Pepperl+Fuchs offers training courses and seminars on this topic to all interested parties. These can be conducted as events at the customer's site and address specific safety concepts or teach general principles. The full range of training options includes events held in person or online on functional safety in mechanical and plant engineering and in the process industry. All training formats cover both theoretical aspects and practical knowledge.

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