Southco reports that it has an extensive range of products available to help machine builders comply with the new Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC, which became effective on 29 December 2009. The company's products and expertise are particularly applicable to the Directive's new requirements in relation to fastening of machine guards and the ergonomics of operator equipment.
This new legislation has created a dilemma for machine builders, operators and purchasers across the industrial equipment marketplace as they struggle to decide on the most effective choice from a plethora of different options, in terms of meeting the new safety requirements in the most cost effective way. As a global leader in the provision of access hardware products, Southco believes it is very well positioned to help machine builders comply with these new regulations.
Ulrike Sturman, Industry Marketing Manager for Diversified Technologies at Southco, states: "The industrial machinery and equipment market is a very fragmented industry and covers a vast and diversified range of sectors. At Southco, we can offer designers, suppliers and purchasers of industrial equipment the complete solution, in terms of fastening devices, technical expertise and a wide and localised distribution network to support the requirements of a segmented industry to comply with the EU directive. As well as having the industry's widest range of captive and quick-access fasteners available globally for machine guarding, as the market leader in positioning technology we can also provide a host of hinges and positioning control devices for positioning adjustable guards, and for allowing monitor screens and control panels to be moved smoothly and effortlessly with zero backlash through controlled torque mechanisms."
Southco recognises fully that compliance means extra costs to a business and is therefore a price-sensitive issue. This fact is reflected by the use of 'quick fix' and DIY solutions to the problem of how to stay on the right side of the law. Sturman continues: "We believe those who adopt these short-term approaches will create a lot of problems for themselves longer term. However, those willing to invest in our reliable and easy-to-use captive and quick-access hardware solution, rather than plump for cheaper options, will not only comply with the Directive but also enjoy additional benefits as a result of the company's industry-leading technical values. These include a longer life cycle, enhanced product performance and long-term cost savings."
For fixed guards, the Directive has three key stipulations:
Engineered fixing systems using Southco's established and proven range of captive screws minimise problems commonly experienced with loose screws, nuts or bolts dropping into operating equipment. And from a productive perspective, engineered fixing systems that utilise captive, self-aligning designs improve assembly speed and convenience. The company's extensive range includes screws with a smooth knob action, screws that are flush-fitting for safety, and smooth-headed screws for use in restricted spaces. For added safety or convenience, differently coloured headstyles are available.
Also, for quick and easy access - which is particularly advantageous for repeat-access applications - and high-strength and economical performance, the Dzus quarter-turn and fast-lead captive fasteners ranges provide different options for tool-restricted access, as well as flush or low-profile installations. Also available are self-ejecting options that provide a visual indicator for unfastened guards, while the spring-ejection feature helps clear fasteners out of the way in multiple fastener applications.
For adjustable guards that restrict access to those areas of the moving parts strictly necessary for the work, the Directive states that they must be readily adjustable without the use of tools. For such applications, Southco has a range of controlled-torque positioning devices offering the ability to raise, lower, tilt, swivel and position adjustable guards for better safety protection during equipment operation and for easy access when necessary. These devices, which include the recently launched AV-D30 mounting arm, can also hold guards in a partially or fully open position, without secondary hardware, to provide unrestricted maintenance access.
According to the Directive, "interlocking movable guards must, as far as possible, remain attached to the machinery when open, be designed and constructed in such a way that they can be adjusted only by means of an intentional action, and be designed in such a way that the absence or failure of one of their components prevents starting, or stops the hazardous machinery functions". For such applications, Southco can offer tethered quick-access pins with simple push-button actuation for locking movable safety guards into place, as well as for activating electronic lockout sensors on movable guards. Additional devices such as captive spring-loaded plungers also allow for quick positioning and fixing of sliding guards.
Sturman concludes: "Initially, our main focus is on machine guarding applications across five key segments - namely printing and labelling, textile, processing and packaging, materials handling and compressors. These specific sectors have been identified as those that we believe would best benefit from Southco's access hardware solutions."
Follow the link for more information about Southco's range of fasteners and hinges to aid compliance with the new Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC, and to download a free information pack to aid compliance.