Plant & Works Engineering
Talking Industry: Advances in safety engineering and security
Published:  05 October, 2023

The latest Talking Industry (TI) addressed how implementing safety initiatives can enhance efficiency, while addressing the risks. Andy Pye, Chairperson of TI, gives a brief overview of the event.

Talking Industry is a freeform conversation between industry experts, as opposed to a scripted webinar. On this occasion, the three speakers interpreted the intention perfectly, and the session almost morphed into a single conversational piece, where all of the topics were covered within a single chat.

Our three speakers were: Ian Holland, Managing Director, Dold Industries Ltd; Peter Keckes, Strategic Account Manager UK&I, Red Lion Controls; and David Dearden, Managing Director of Euchner UK Ltd.

David provided a general perspective of trends in safety and security technology. He sees safety solutions changing from hard-wired physical relay-based systems to programmable systems, as the cost of safety I/O has come down significantly. The number of vendors providing programmable or configurable safety control systems is also increasing. Whereas it was relatively prohibitive to use a programmable safety system on a machine, apart from in highly specialist circumstances, now it is becoming the norm. If you have a programmable controller or a PC based control system that’s managing the rest of the control function, why wouldn’t you also include that in the in the safety functions? With the advancement of automation and robotics, safety systems are also getting much more complex.

It was not long before the other speakers entered the fray. Peter made the case for the continued use in some areas of hard-wired and simple logic systems, where speed is critical. This is because there are no conversions needed between the analogue and digital worlds. However, there is a need to take digital information out of a wired system, so that the information can be used elsewhere for monitoring and management purposes.

Ian also made the case for relay logic, pointing out that his company still supplies millions of relays every day. Much of this demand is down to cost and the different skillsets which would be required. He said that cost is a major factor, and with the price of energy going up, the price of resource and infrastructure spending has to go down. But both Ian and David agreed that if building a new production line or a new warehousing logistics centre, it would be rare for the safety-related control system to be based on relay technology.

The session moved on to discuss other aspects, including changing skillsets and the challenge of working with multiple protocols. We concluded with more futuristic concepts, including how artificial intelligence will influence safety and security technology over the next 5 to 10 years, both for good and ill, if it is not already here!

Standards are trying hard to catch up with the fast-moving technology: as we might expect, the latest regulations are found within Europe, as the familiar Machinery Directive now has a very strong focus on cybersecurity.

In the chat are some of the useful links provided by the speakers and other contributors. Even if you were unable to attend on the day, there is no better way to participate than to listen back to the on-demand version, or the podcasts. Do feel free to contact us with further questions, which we will readily pass on to the speakers on the day. The Talking Industry live event is just the beginning!

Talking Industry is Sponsored by Drives & Controls Exhibition, the #1 event for automation, power transmission & motion control. Taking place 4-6th June 2024, at the NEC, Birmingham, in association with Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2024. Drive The Future. Visit: