Mechan Controls F-Series: RFID, expandable safety system

Mechan Controls says that its F-Series safety system is designed to operate in environments where harsh conditions often damage machine guard safety devices. A typical heavy industry where this might be the case is in the processing of aggregates, which presents many challenges when trying to adequately protect both personnel and equipment. The F-Series is designed to overcome this and the overall system, if installed correctly, is approved to CAT4, SIL3, PL-e and requires no programming.

Each RFID switch or E-stop is wired back individually to a dedicated pair of safety inputs, eliminating any fault masking and providing a high level of visible diagnostics. Mechan says that the F-Series can be easily installed and maintained with very little effort and is ready to use out of the box. For a single system, a minimum of one FM1 master control unit is required which will monitor one RFID safety switch and two external devices such as relays or contactors. Other notable features include the fact that the FM1 master control unit can be purchased as 24V DC, 24V AC, 110V AC and 230V AC, it has a resettable fuse and also includes either automatic or manual reset. For machine builders or users working with more than one gate the F-Series is easily expanded using a wide selection of extender modules. The overall system can monitor up to 30 devices at CAT4, SIL3 in accordance with EN13849 and PL-e in accordance with EN62061. Models include:

  • FX1 - Suitable for one F-Series safety switch
  • FX2 - Suitable for two F-Series safety switches
  • ESM - Suitable for one emergency stop or any 2 N/C safety device
  • GSM - Suitable for one Mechan MLG-Series Light Curtain

The extender modules are said to be simple to connect, using a straightforward 6-way strap which daisy-chains all the modules into one complete system. There is no need to connect power to each extender as the 6-way connector draws power from each connected module.

As most machine builders will be aware, aggregate, concrete and dairy plants are some of the worst environments for safety equipment, as they present many obstacles to overcome. Water, dust, sand and cement ingress along with high shock and vibration are among the most common factors which often lead to safety switch failures, hence the introduction of the new F-Series by Mechan. All F-Series safety switches use RFID technology and have a design that makes them immune to shock and vibration. All the "˜intelligent' features are handled by the FM1 control unit which means the most exposed part of the safety system (the switch) is less likely to fail.

Because the F-Series use RFID technology, they are said to be well suited for mounting on all surfaces. The operating distance of magnetic safety switches is often reduced, or they fail due to being mounted on ferrous material, which is common in aggregate sites. The FMA offered by Mechan is also available with uniquely coded RFID with 4 billion possible codes. Mechan's F-Series has over 45 years of proven reliability in some of the most harsh environments, and one unit on an aggregate site is still performing faultlessly despite being installed 22 years ago. Mechan says: "We are that confident in the F-Series that if customers are not happy, we will give them their money back".

The F-Series now comes with safety switches designed for ATEX zones 2 and 22. The FMEX are housed in a black body that are easily distinguishable from the standard blue version. Mechan says that customers often ask them to build their F-Series system for them, simply providing their requirements and allowing the company to design a bespoke panel that fulfils fully meets CAT4, SIL3, and PL-e in accordance with the latest international safety standards. The systems can consist of as many safety devices or E-stops as required and are wired and labelled very simply to a terminal block, making it a "˜plug and play' solution. The company can also create a simple LED display on the front of the panel, which will be labelled to show which gates or E-stops are being used.

Mechan Controls designs and manufactures a full range of machine guard safety products suitable for all applications and has application engineering expertise freely available to machine designers, builders and installers. Go to for further information.

Mechan Controls Ltd

14/16 Seddon Place
Stanley Industrial Estate

+44 (0)1695 722264

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