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Software system brings safety to small applications

16 July, 2013

The Austrian automation company B&R has developed a software-based safety control system as an alternative to the hard-wired safety systems usually needed for small-scale applications.

It says that the SafeLogic-X system brings the advantages of integrated safety technology to small, cost-sensitive applications. The system offers functions ranging from I/O and drive technologies, to integrated diagnostics, safe line integration and safe motion.

The safety functions are distributed across safe I/O modules, standard controllers and HMI applications. The system can be implemented on any B&R Automation PC, Panel PC, Power Panel or modular control system, and, if needed, it can be scaled up and transferred to a dedicated SafeLogic controller.

While the safety functions are distributed across existing hardware components on a network, the safety application runs on a safe input module. All parameter and configuration management is handled on the standard controller, while safe user interface functions are handled by a visualisation device. SafeLogic-X uses the bus-independent openSafety communication protocol, which complies with SIL 3 and can run on any version of industrial Ethernet.

B&R says that the new system offers the advantages of an integrated bus-based PLC at a price that can compete with conventional safety systems based on separate relays. It also offers consistent machine design and diagnostics for increased machine availability.

“Using software alone, we've managed to eliminate the need for a dedicated safety controller,” says Franz Kaufleitner, B&R's product manager for integrated safety technology.

SafeLogic-X brings integrated safety to small, cost-sensitive applications

“We've succeeded in creating a solution whose scalability allows it to fill a serious gap in the market,” he adds. “Machine and systems manufacturers can now eliminate inconsistencies between the safety solutions used in their various products and enjoy the benefits of integrated safety technology across all applications, regardless of size.”

He points out that in many small-scale applications “where the purchase price alone is often the decisive factor, there is simply no room in the budget for a separate safety controller.”

SafeLogic-X is programmed using the SafeDesigner editor in B&R’s Automation Studio software suite. When a system outgrows SafeLogic-X, it can be switched easily to a dedicated SafeLogic controller. Because safe input and output modules can be added to the safety controller, existing programming code can be reused without making any changes. Switching over does not require any recertification. 

SafeLogic-X allows safety equipment to be configured on a visualisation terminal, in a similar way to a hardware-based system. Commissioning and service technicians can implement changes easily, without needing to use external safety programming devices.

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