The EC has performed a U-turn, reversing its recent decision to extend the period during which EN 954-1 can be used. Just a few weeks ago it was decided that machine builders would be allowed to continue using the standard for a further three years, but now the EC has rescinded that decision and reconfirmed the original deadline of 29 December 2009, thereby causing confusion throughout the industry.
The recent extension announcement recognised that some machine builders were not ready for the changes, but the EC's decision was reportedly disputed by industry experts. The extension has therefore been overturned for the time being, with a final announcement to be made early in December. However, this turnaround has clearly caused some confusion for machine builders, and the future of the much relied upon EN 954-1 is currently unclear.
Peter Still, the industry standards manager at Schneider Electric, explains: "Although EN 954-1 is acceptable for use in many applications, the new standards, which provide a Presumption of Conformity to the new Machinery Directive, offer a higher level of safety so their use is encouraged by many organisations within the industry.
"Some critics believe that manufacturers will profit from the new standards by bringing new products to market that comply with BS EN ISO 13849-1 and BS EN 62061. This is not the case and manufacturers have not been developing new technologies purely to comply with the new standards; in fact the same equipment can often still be used.
"To ensure machine builders comply with the new standards, they will not have to purchase new equipment. From a manufacturer's point of view, the main differences will be the data that is supplied with the products and the way that they are integrated into a control system. Schneider Electric has already invested heavily to ensure data is available to help machine builders meet the requirements of the updated standards."
All relevant data has been made available on Schneider Electric's website, www.schneider-electric.co.uk, including a Safe Machinery Guide; this is an unbiased and concise guide that explains some aspects of the new Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC. For further information regarding Schneider Electric's range of products call +44 (0)870 608 8 608.