Robotics has become commonplace in manufacturing as a leading indicator of broader machine automation use. This growth is most evident in the automotive sector where robotic automation accounted for nearly a third of new installations in 2018 according to Statista.
Safety for those working with or alongside of automated machines is a constant concern that is being addressed with the light curtain sensor. But downtime that results from machine stoppage resulting from the tripping of a safety light curtain.
When it comes to safety light curtains, manufacturers are exploring the use of the devices in conjunction with a programmable logic controller (PLC) to operate as a safety alert device. This opens possibilities of real-time data monitoring and alarms of a human breach to an unsafe machine area. The manufacturer could set the PLC to trigger a slow down or stopping of an entire machine sequence where different automation processes are linked to the machine registering the light sensor break.
The light curtain sensor can clearly contribute as much to downtime elimination as to safety if properly set up as part of a larger system based on stop time measurement. As a presence sensing device that can trigger a response from a machine, the safety light curtain only triggers the machine stoppage. But the time it takes the machine to come to a full stop and how long it takes to restart once the source that originally broke the beam has receded are all contributing factors to potential costly downtime.
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