How to Find the Balance Between Safety Features and Productivity
Woodworking safety and productivity are two crucial aspects of our industry, but finding the right balance between the two can be challenging.
In automated woodworking, for example, production managers – like you – need to ensure that their machines and equipment are safe to use while also maintaining high levels of productivity. In this article, we’ll offer insight into how to strike that balance.
CE and Other Safety Standards
CE (Conformite Europeenne), is a set of rules and directives that EU member countries – and others – are obliged to follow. This includes the Machinery Directive, which pertains to health and safety, as well as electromagnetic compatibility and low voltage. It's important to stay updated with these standards, as they can change over time. In addition to CE, there are other safety standards that companies should be aware of, such as ISO standards, which are used internationally.
Primary safety features in focus in automated woodworking
One of the main topics of safety standards is the use of fencing and lighting systems. For example, it's typically required to construct a safety fence in front of a cutter or blade at a defined distance. Metal fencing is often used as it is the cheapest solution. However, safety barriers can be expensive, and it's important to consider the costs in terms of safety standards for both the company and the customer.
When it comes to bringing safety and productivity in the right balance, there are certain compromises that need to be made. For example, in some cases, temporary access to areas that pose a potential hazard may be unavoidable in order to complete a specific task or operation. This could involve accessing a dangerous area to perform maintenance on machinery, to clear a blockage, or to make adjustments to equipment. For plants and production lines that produce larger items, it is important to make sure the feeding, out-feeding of material and stacking/removal of finished parts do not interfere with overall processes. Flexible safety systems must be used for this purpose.
Long-term perspective: reduced risks and costs with increased safety
The cost of these woodworking safety measures is not trivial; however, it should be considered an investment in your machinery’s longevity and the health and productivity of your operators. Weighing the costs against any potential benefits will help you make informed decisions about how best to protect yourself from accidents that could damage or disable your equipment or seriously injure people working nearby during operation or maintenance activities – or even during normal operation if they are not aware that there are hazards nearby.
The benefits of safety are clear: less downtime and fewer interruptions of production due to high safety standards. This can lead to reduced damage and wear-and-tear on machinery, as well as a reduction in the number of mistakes made by workers and increased staff morale.
In recent years, there hasn't been a significant push for innovation in woodworking safety standards, but components and parts have become easier and cheaper to access. For example, area scanners and light barriers are now widely available and can be used to reduce risks and lower costs. With this in mind, consider the benefits of improving your equipment in terms of woodworking safety – both for staff and production – and get in touch with KUPER for safety solutions.