Impact of machine-control safety standard is being felt

News of a recent IMS Research ( study, which estimates the revenues for global discrete machine safety components grew by more than 17% and exceeded $2 billion in 2011, reminds us of the need to design machines to the dominant global safety standard, which is EN ISO 13849-1, now that EN 954-1 is dead. Updates to international and European machine safety standards were among the main growth drivers of the machine safety component market.

If you’re unclear on the exact elements of EN ISO 13849-1, you aren’t the only one. The once and future alternative to EN 954-1 has caused a bit of confusion. Under EN ISO 13849-1, evaluation is based on the control architecture, mean time to dangerous failure (MTTFd) of the parts and the system, diagnostic coverage of the system, and common cause faults.

EN ISO 13849-1 addresses control-system safety with requirements for design and integration, including software. It’s different from EN 954-1, which doesn’t address programmable safety devices that continue to increase in popularity and inclusion. EN ISO 13849-1 uses performance levels to evaluate the risk of a safety function, which ensures more accurate risk assessments.

Along with EN (IEC) 62061, EN ISO 13849-1 and 13849-2 use different systems of assessment than EN 954-1 did, and therefore many machines required recertification in order to comply. This caused the significant boost to component revenues in 2011.

"This succession of standards in the EU is expected to have a wide impact," says Mark Watson, industrial automation research manager at IMS Research. "Any machinery sold into the EU has to meet the new standards, which means that machine builders in North America, Western Europe, and Japan are upgrading in order to sell into the market. Countries with developing manufacturing industries, including Brazil, China, and India, are also beginning to adopt these new standards.  This is partly due to multinational companies implementing common safety standards across global manufacturing sites."

Growth in 2011 was mainly driven by the established discrete machine safety component markets in EMEA and the Americas. EMEA revenues grew by 18% in 2011. Americas revenues grew 22%. In Asia Pacific, discrete machine safety is yet to become fully established. This regional market is expected to have much stronger growth in the future.

"As acceptance of international standards increases in Asia Pacific, safety component revenues will begin to grow more rapidly," says Watson. "In fact, Asia Pacific revenues are forecast to surpass those from the Americas in 2014 as the Chinese and the Indian markets become more established."