Pilz has offered a new system for safeguarding maintenance with a new "Key-in-pocket" solution. The company relies on the new LED signal tower "eSIGN" from WERMA as a visual display—this shows the current status brightly, clearly and luminously.

To protect employees, certain parts of a machine or production plant are protected by a cell (e.g. robot cell). If a person needs access due to necessary maintenance, the machine must be stopped—only then is it possible to enter the cell. When entering, the person signs in with his transponder in a "safe list". As long as at least one person remains in the danger zone (or a person is entered in the "safe list"), the machine may not be restarted. 

Pilz's "key-in-pocket" solution ensures that only authorized persons are allowed access, only suitably qualified persons carry out the work involved and the number of people within this cell is documented to prevent the machine from starting prematurely and putting people at risk. The machine or system can only be restarted after all persons have been logged out of the "safe list" in the danger zone. Central management of the "safe list" offers advantages, especially for large plants. For example, a person does not have to leave the cell at the same door through which he or she entered the cell. This offers a significant time and flexibility advantage.  

The solution focuses on maintenance protection, which, in addition to access authorization, also ensures protection against unintentional starting of the machines, states the company. It is designed for plants and machinery with hazardous areas, which are protected by safety fences. With this solution, Pilz says it provides a digital maintenance safeguard that meets safety and industrial security requirements. "Key-in-pocket" ensures that the machine does not restart during maintenance work and that unauthorized persons cannot gain access. 

In this way, it offers an alternative to mechanical "lockout-tagout" maintenance locks, which are fitted to safety doors. As the plant can be entered or exited at different safety gates, the Pilz solution offers staff greater flexibility and considerable time savings during maintenance.

Identification and Access Management (IAM) solves the daily challenges and problems of the executing and responsible persons in a company. It primarily protects employees, but liability risks, data protection and productivity also benefit from such identification and access management. Pilz has authentication products for these solutions, which reportedly facilitate a safe environment by only allowing access to qualified personnel and are tamper-proof—protecting data. 

This makes it possible for companies to provide clear identification for specific tasks and access to machines and systems, to check qualifications and training, and to authorize authorizations and access based on a facility’s unique needs. 

The respective status can be displayed visually via a signal column. The identity of a person is stored on personalized transponders, the so-called ‘key’. Depending on the access rights stored, access is granted to the identified person via the key devices. This can be, for example, the start of machines, the selection of operating modes or even manual access via door systems.

Within the "Key-in-Pocket" solution Pilz uses the eSIGN signal towers from WERMA at access points. Thanks to the electrical modularity, the signal tower can be configured freely. This transforms a classic traffic light solution into an interface. In combination with the "Key-in-pocket" solution, the eSIGN signal tower can not only indicate the status of the installation but also whether access to the danger zone is granted, whether access is available for the necessary activities and the number of persons currently present in the danger zone. 

In this way, the WERMA signal tower assumes the role of a human-machine interface and enables the user to communicate with the access system, and the access options within the cell and provides information on the status of the machine or plant. This combination creates a customized system of individual components which the company says, offers added value for customers.