Guidance for Packaging Machine Safety

New guidance is now available on how to make packaging machines safe. This will provide much-needed assistance for machines used widely in the food and beverage industry, general manufacturing industry and warehousing/distribution industry. Australian Standards have published 8 new standards to provide guidance for different types of packaging machines:

  1. AS 4024.3401:2018 – Safety of Packaging Machines – Terminology and classification of machines
  2. AS 4024.3403:2018 – Safety of Packaging Machines – Form, fill and seal machines
  3. AS 4024.3404:2018 – Safety of Packaging Machines – Palletisers and depalletisers
  4. AS 4024.3405:2018 – Safety of Packaging Machines – Wrapping machines
  5. AS 4024.3406:2018 – Safety of Packaging Machines – Pallet wrapping machines
  6. AS 4024.3407:2018 – Safety of Packaging Machines – Group and secondary packaging machines
  7. AS 4024.3408:2018 – Safety of Packaging Machines – Strapping machines
  8. AS 4024.3410:2018 – Safety of Packaging Machines – General Requirements

These standards provide consistency with international practice because they are adoptions of the EN 415 series from Europe but be aware some of these standards are quite old. For example AS 4204.3403 is an adoption of a 1999 version standard and AS 4024.3404 is an adoption of a 1997 version standard. This means that many of the document references in these standards are out of date and some of the control measures are lacking when compared to today’s levels of safety, so be aware!

It is always a good idea to formulate the Category / Performance Level (PL) / Safety Integrity Level (SIL) requirement of safety functions based on the risk of the application using methods from current standards, thus using AS/NZS 4024.1501 for Category Selection, AS/NZS 4204.1503 for PL selection and AS 62061 for SIL selection.

It is also a good idea to always investigate what current industry practices are when selecting risk reduction measures. This can be done by referencing any guidance material published on your state WorkSafe website, observing new models of that machine type, exploring how other sites with similar machines provide safety, etc.

That being said, the new Packaging Machine Standards, do provide great assistance for risk assessment of packaging machines because many of the common hazards found on these machines are illustrated. The standards also provide good information on what types of safety measures can be utilised to reduce risk to an appropriate level.

Craig Imrie, Functional Safety Engineer

Written by
Craig Imrie
Functional Safety Engineer (TUV Rheinland #3814/11, Machinery)
Safety Consultant
Rockwell Automation

Published: 21 August 2018

Guidance for Light Curtains & Laser Scanners

The most misapplied safety devices in the industry are light curtains and laser scanners, common issues with installations include:
  1. Application not suitable for light curtain/scanner, eg; the machine ejects parts, the machine has a long stopping time, environmental influences
  2. Light curtain placed too close to the hazard – Insufficient safety distance 
  3. Scanner safety field size is too small – Insufficient safety distance 
  4. Stopping performance monitoring not provided when it should be
  5. Muting sensors not mounted correctly
In the past, it hasn’t been easy for installers/designers to find guidance on all these topics in the one reference. We have had AS 4024.2801 in Australia since 2008, but this standard only provided sufficient guidance for safety distance calculation which addressed issues 2 and 3 from the above list.
Guidance is now at hand with the new standard AS 4024.2802:2017 being introduced. This standard provides information on all aspects of designing/installing presence sensing system such as light curtains and laser scanners.

AS 4024.2802:2017 covers safety distance calculation to address issues 2 and 3 in the above list, but it does a lot more as well.

It also provides an explanation of how to ensure the application is suitable for presence sensing devices, this guidance can help address issue 1 from the above list.

Issue 5 a major problem in the industry, it is common to see muting sensors mounted incorrectly and this increases the risk of operators inadvertently muting the light curtain and being exposed to hazards. AS 4024.2802:2017 has information on all common muting configurations and provides clear instructions on how the sensors are mounted and the timing sequence of the muting operation.
Issue 4 reflects the fact that many designers/installers aren’t aware of the requirement of stopping performance monitoring. If the light curtain/scanner is used as a trip device then the safety distance is integral to ensure the risk is controlled. If the machine’s stopping time is subject to deterioration (eg: brake wear) then the stopping time of the machine should be monitored. This information can be used to schedule preventative maintenance to ensure the safety risk is controlled and reduce unexpected downtime.

If you design/install or maintain presence sensing systems, such as light curtains or laser scanners, I recommend referencing the new AS 4024.2802:2017 standard.

Published: 8 February 2018