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Safety comms system improves diagnostics and cuts wiring

16 April, 2018

Rockwell Automation has announced a safety communication protocol that, it says, will help users to improve machine diagnostics, reduce downtime and increase productivity, as well as cutting wiring by up to 38%. The Allen-Bradley Guardmaster GuardLink system allows safety devices to share diagnostics and status information with higher-level controls, allowing users to access information from an entire safety installation.

Traditionally, safety devices have been wired in series, thus reducing the number of safety inputs needed, but requiring more wiring and introducing potential fault points. This architecture also sacrifices the ability to distinguish information from each device.

One alternative is to wire safety components to individual inputs, but this increases wiring and controller costs.

With the new system, the safety devices are daisy-chained, while providing access to individual device diagnostics. Up to 32 devices can be connected via a single four-conductor cable – with distances of up to 30m between devices – to provide safety, diagnostics, remote reset and lock commands.

The technology integrates with Allen-Bradley Guardmaster safety relays and components. Connecting safety devices with Guardlink-enabled “smart taps” and standard cabling to a Guardmaster safety relay provides visibility down to individual guard doors and emergency-stops.

Rockwell Automation's Guardlink technology links safety devices to higher-level controls

“When an e-stop or interlock switch is operated, the individual safety signal is sent to the Guardmaster safety relays,” explains Rockwell’s safety product manager, Thomas Helpenstein. “That information is then communicated seamlessly across the connected enterprise via the Guardmaster network interface, making it easier and faster to diagnose and repair problems when compared to traditional wired systems.”

The GuardLink system integrates with Rockwell’s Logix platform with predetermined tag names in Software Studio 5000. Its simple design and reduced wiring allow easy plug-and-play installation without needing any configuration.

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