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Smart Safety Switches

Accidents in automatic warehouse during maintenance—how can we avoid the risk?

Risk of accidents in conventional systems: trapped in hazardous area and accidents
Automatic warehouses used in large-size material handling facilities need safety measures to avoid accident risks, such as by installing a safety guard. Two types of safety product can be used at the door of a safety gate: an interlock switch to allow the door to open after the stacker crane has stopped, and a safety plug to keep the machine stopped and to be taken into the hazardous area with the worker as a portable key. During maintenance work following an error in conventional systems, for instance, a maintenance worker first needs to switch the machine to maintenance mode, and removes the safety plug to keep the machine stopped. The worker then opens the door where the interlock switch installed and enters the hazardous area for maintenance work. In conventional systems such as described above, two potential risks are present.
Firstly, while a worker is inside the hazardous area, someone might mistakenly lock the door. If the machine is restarted, the worker inside the hazardous area gets trapped, unable to unlock the door from inside. Secondly, when the safety plug is removed in order to stop the machine, it can be tampered easily using a tool to defeat the stop function, which might result in a serious accident if the machine is restarted by someone whether intended or not.

New two-in-one interlock switch to ensure safety and reliability

So what should we do to ensure higher level of safety? In the IDEC’s new generation interlock switch HS5E-K, two functions are integrated: interlock switch and safety plug. The proprietary key serves the function of safety plugs to prevent the worker from being trapped. While safety plugs are vulnerable to tampering which can lead to serious accidents between the trapped worker and the restarted machine, the proprietary key is tamper-resistant. Additionally, the model with rear unlocking button makes it possible for the trapped worker to unlock the interlock switch and then escape from the hazardous area. This way, the maintenance worker is able to concentrate on work without worrying about being trapped. What’s more, conventional systems need to have a special electric circuit that required time-consuming work. HS5E-K does not need 24V DC circuit because it does not need a solenoid for open/close of the actuator. This contributes to reduce the components and wiring cost necessary for 24V DC circuit.

A variety of safety products to achieve safe automatic warehouse
HS5E-K key interlock switch is just an example of a variety of solutions IDEC has to offer to ensure worker’s safety. Other powerful solutions include FS1A, a safety controller with pre-programmed logics to establish safety circuit easily, and SE2L safety laser scanner capable of area protection and access protection. Contact IDEC for creating working environments where safety of operator is ensured, and also standardization of safety creation.