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The 5 Stages of the Functional Machine Safety Lifecycle

6/23/23  |  Dave Cucerzan, Product Specialist

When you’re dealing with powerful machines in your industrial manufacturing plant, the safety of workers and equipment is critical. This is where the functional machine safety lifecycle comes into play. As part of a larger safety assessment, this is a comprehensive approach that makes sure your machines and systems are designed, implemented, and maintained to meet safety requirements. This post will explore the five stages of the lifecycle.

Part 1: Hazard/Risk Assessment

Before you start implementing new safety measures, it’s important to identify and understand any potential hazards or risks associated with your machines or systems. A thorough assessment involves a walkthrough of your facility to expose any possible dangers, such as moving parts, high temperatures, electrical hazards, and more. A safety expert will also identify any risks associated with human interaction, environmental factors, and operational conditions.

The hazard/risk assessment serves as the foundation for developing appropriate safety measures to effectively mitigate risks, keep employees safe, and maintain efficient operations.

Part 2: Functional Safety System Requirements

Once any hazards and risks have been identified, the next step of the functional machine safety lifecycle is to establish functional safety system requirements. This phase involves setting and defining safety objectives and performance criteria that the machines and systems should meet to maintain a safe working environment.

Functional safety standards, such as ISO 13849 and IEC 62061, provide guidance for establishing safety requirements. These standards help define the necessary safety integrity level (SIL) or performance level (PL) based on the risks identified in the safety assessment. Things to consider are fault tolerance, diagnostic coverage, and safety-related control functions.

Part 3: Design and Verification

After any hazards and risks are identified and the safety requirements have been defined, the design and verification phase begins. With the help of a safety expert, you’ll develop the safety concept and implement the necessary measures to achieve the desired level of safety for your machines. These concepts may include, but aren’t limited to, components such as safety controllers, emergency stop devices, interlocks, and safety sensors.

During the design process, it’s important to make sure the safety measures are properly integrated into the overall machine or system design. This involves conducting functional safety assessments, creating safety-related control system architectures, and selecting the appropriate safety components.

You have your design, so now it’s time for verification, which confirms the implemented safety measures meet the defined requirements. Verification must be done in accordance with TUV Sistema. The safety functions are validated through testing, simulation, and analysis techniques, ensuring they perform as intended. Thorough verification helps identify any possible flaws or risks before the system is put into operation.

Part 4: Installation and Validation

The next phase of the functional machine safety lifecycle is the installation and validation phase. During installation, it’s critical to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and best practices to ensure the safety components are installed correctly and properly integrated into the machine or system. Things like wiring, correct placement of sensors, and appropriate connections are key factors in this stage.

Validation ensures that the implemented safety measures work effectively in the real-world environment. Tests and performance evaluations are conducted to ensure the safety implementations respond appropriately to hazardous situations. Validation may also include training employees on safety procedures and protocols.

Part 5: Maintain and Improve

The final part of the functional machine safety lifecycle focuses on the ongoing maintenance and continuous improvement of safety measure. This involves regular inspections, maintenance checks, and reviews of safety procedures to make sure the functions remain effective throughout the machine’s lifecycle. If you make modifications to a machine, return to Part 1.

Feedback from employees should also be encouraged to identify and safety issues or areas for improvement, and safety-related incidents should be thoroughly investigated.

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The 5 stages of the functional machine safety lifecycle can help manage safety risks, minimize accidents, and create a safer working environment. Ready to get started? Contact us today!