A reader has raised the question of safety-critical mechanical components such as brakes. It seems there is a problem with applying the recently introduced machinery safety standard EN ISO 13849-1 due to a lack of relevant data for safety-related mechanical components. Furthermore, the reader says that at least one supplier of brakes has said it does not see how the standards can be applied so as to generate the data, as the models do not fit mechanical components such as brakes. Similarly, if a machine is fitted with safety-related controls that are primarily electrical, electronic or programmable electronic, and the control system is therefore being designed to EN 62061, then the lack of data for mechanical components results in the same problem.
Having contacted various suppliers of brakes, plus the Health and Safety Executive and independent machinery safety consultants, I can report that the lack of positive response suggests there is, indeed, a problem. However, Andrew Nicoll of Mayr Transmissions said: "Our designers in Germany are working with the German authorities to ensure that they both fully understand the requirements and ramifications of the spec and to jointly agree a route to compliance." He goes on to explain that mechanical components will react very differently in different operating conditions, making it practically impossible to determine a Mean Time To Failure for every product in every conceivable operating condition.
If you are a machine designer or supplier and would like to add share your thoughts on this subject, email me at .
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