Optoelectronic products and solutions must cover type classes and all protection requirements. A new type of light curtain from Pilz Automation is raising the safety bar for robot applications, packaging machines and presses.

Thanks to extremely short reaction times of up to 6ms and the absence of dead zones, today’s innovative safety light curtains are moving even closer to the danger zone. Where the demand is for safety, flexibility, simple wiring and rapid commissioning, such light curtains are setting standards for barrier-free safety solutions.

In both production and logistics, light curtain-based safety solutions are always the first choice whenever the process or production requires continuous infeed and outfeed, an absence of barriers, or exchange between human and machine as part of innovative HRC applications.

New type class for light curtains

In accordance with the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC, appropriate safety measures must be taken on plant and machinery to eliminate any danger to humans or reduce it to an acceptable level. These measures must meet the determined risk level and the normative specifications. In 2015, the standard IEC/EN 61496 was the first to establish a connection between the type classes for electrosensitive protective equipment (ESPE), the safety integrity level (SIL – in accordance with IEC 62061) and the degree of reliability with which a controller must perform a safety function (Performance Level PL – in accordance with ISO 13849). As a result, since May 2015 it has only been possible to use Type 2 light curtains in applications up to Performance Level PL c / SIL 1 and SIL CL 1.  Type class 3 light barriers were not yet available on the market, so users were forced to switch to Type 4 devices, intended for PL e requirements, in order to satisfy the safety requirements of PL d. In most cases this meant significant overdimensioning – with correspondingly higher costs.

External specifications, framework changes and the resulting repercussions are often the stimulus behind innovative processes. Even before the change to the standard came into effect, automation specialist Pilz decided to bridge this “type gap” with a light curtain tailored exactly to Type 3. The PSENopt II Type 3 safety light curtain completely excludes dead zones and is the only model to date that is designed for applications up to PL d of EN/IEC 61496-1.

Pilz light curtain portfolio for all requirements

With a mechanical load capacity of up to 50g and therefore high availability, the shock resistant light curtains PSENopt II from Pilz are the preferred choice for use on robot applications, packaging machines and presses. With the PSENopt II Type 3 light curtain the automation company is also the only manufacturer to offer an economical safety solution that’s specifically tailored to applications up to PL d in accordance with EN/IEC 61496-1. 

Type 4 light curtains are also available for applications up to PL e in accordance with EN/IEC 61496-1/-2. The light curtains PSENopt II meet the highest requirement for finger, hand and body protection and are available in lengths of 15 cm to 180 cm. Add to that a wide range of accessories, such as mirror columns for example, enabling economical, complete solutions. On their own, such light curtains offer users maximum design scope, efficiency and reliability. In conjunction with configurable small controllers – in the case of Pilz the PNOZmulti 2 – they become a complete, economical solution.

The light curtains PSENopt slim are suitable for areas where space is critical, on machines where intervention is required as part of each cycle, such as insertion work, or the infeed and outfeed of material, for example. In these cases the super slimline light curtains provide finger and hand protection up to the highest Performance Level (PL)e, depending on the requirement. Thanks to the cascading function without dead zones they offer effective protection against encroachment into and behind the protected area in accordance with IEC 61496-2.

This article was first published in the November-December 2021 print issue of PKN Packaging News, p48.

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