A Machinery Safety Alliance has been created by six companies to help boost understanding of machine safety in the UK and to safeguard productivity through knowledge of legislation technologies and application advice. Pilz Automation Technology explains.

Machine safety is a complex subject, yet one that needs to be fully understood by everyone, in particular machine designers and OEMs. To help, at the beginning of this year – when EN 954-1 was withdrawn and ISO 13849-1 took over – a non-profit Alliance was created by six companies: Festo, Fortress Interlocks, Pilz Automation Technology, Troax, UK Engineering and Werma.

Under the Machinery Safety Alliance, each company brings expertise in its own field, with the aim of helping machine builders and users make sense of safety.

David Collier of Pilz Automation commented: “As a group, our mission is to make sense of safety and to safeguard UK productivity by providing practical and up-to-date knowledge of the legislation, the best selection of available technologies, the best application advice for these technologies, all the reliability data as required, a collective experience spanning virtually all of industry, opportunities for training, consultation, engineering service and a single place to be contacted.”

Standard requirements

EN ISO 13849 is set to become the most widely used standard for the design, verification and validation of safety related parts of control systems. It states that electromechanical, non-electrical (for example, hydraulic, pneumatic, mechanical) complex electronic (programmable) and combinations of all the aforementioned technologies are within its scope. Any component within the realms of these technologies can play a part in safety with the proviso that reliability data (in the form of a B10d, MTTFd or PFH) can be found for it. As well as components which contribute to functional safety, others essential in machinery safety include guards – perimeter fences, sliding and hinge gates) etc. – and signalling devices such as beacons and sounders.

The members of the Alliance collectively supply a wide range of safety components and systems, including: pneumatics, trapped key, key exchange, solenoid locks, interlock switches, safety relays, safety PLCs, non-contact switches, RFID switches, light curtains, safe 3D vision, safe automation, safe motion, guard systems and signalling. Therefore to meet requirements, under the Alliance the members have committed to providing shared knowledge of these technologies in accordance with what will become the de facto functional safety standard and other relevant standards.

According to Collier, no single vendor or even integrator has all of these collective technologies, attendant technical support, manufacturing and application experience under one roof. He explains that UK industry needs an organisation which can make this collective know-how more readily accessible.

He said: “We really think we can be stronger than the sum of our parts, and help to boost understanding of machinery safety in the UK.

“Not only do we offer diverse technology expertise, but a wide range of experience across all industry sectors including automated production lines, automotive, aerospace, building materials, electronics, food & beverage, paper and board production and conversion, power generation and distribution, recycling, steel/aluminium production and forming, and applications such as packaging, material handling, palletising, machine tools, as well as process industries in accordance with IEC 61508 and EN 61511.”

Collier adds: “Machine safety compliance has opened up to more technologies with the slow introduction of EN ISO 13849, and there is still a learning curve for builders, users and even some component suppliers to go through with it. Added to this it takes a great deal of experience and engineering insight to strike a balance between safety compliance, ergonomics, productivity, resistance to manipulation (overriding) and cost.”


Alongside the launch of a new web portal – www.machinery-safety-alliance.co.uk  – the Machinery Safety Alliance has introduced a series of seminars at venues around the UK.

These will focus on the real-world application of various technologies, and the application of EN ISO 13849-1 as well as other safety-relevant standards such as EN ISO 12100:2010 for general risk assessment and risk reduction, EN 13857 for safe distances, etc. The event will be opened by a member of the Health and Safety Laboratory (part of HSE).

Machinery Safety Alliance        



Machine Safety Alliance seminars

23rd May, 27th June, 5th September


Leicester National Space Centre, Manchester Concorde Conference Centre, Bristol Explore@Bristol Centre