After safety, the most important area of focus in the food industry is the efficiency of a production line. Ensuring that deliveries meet the demanding schedules set out by retailers is key to maintaining and growing market share for food producers in every market.
It is widely understood that trapped key interlocks, by enforcing procedures, ensure that workers remain protected across a manufacturing site. From raw material receipt through the manufacturing process to the despatch of goods, trapped key interlocks ensure that potential accidents are designed out of each process. In many cases trapped key interlocks, and figure symbol interlocks in particular, can also have a very positive impact on efficiency and overall equipment effectiveness. They achieve this in a number of ways.
1) Reducing downtime caused by hygienic processes
Being mechanical in design, trapped key interlocks do not suffer from the water-induced electrical faults that can see alternative technologies fail in just a few months.
2) Reducing downtime during unscheduled interventions
Machine guarding refitted under the pressure of a manufacturing plan which has not allowed for an unplanned stoppage can be unreliable. This can cause issues where guards are incorrectly placed and misaligned sensors will not allow the machine to restart, extending downtime. Through key transfer, trapped key interlocks enable faster restart as it is immediately clear which guard has and hasn’t been refitted.
3) Avoiding damaged sensors
In a fast-paced manufacturing environment, damaged safety sensors can introduce delays and the potential for hazardous operation. Trapped key interlocks’ robust design enables them to operate safely for many years and they often outlast the design life of the equipment they are fitted to.
4) Reducing the need for hygiene
Washing down machinery in the food industry after operation is an expensive and time-consuming overhead. Any opportunity to reduce this cost improves overall profitability. Figure symbol trapped key interlocks are designed to be faster and easier to clean. Typical lock mechanisms suffer from plugging where food and debris enter the lock, reducing the performance of the mechanism. Unlike a conventional key and lock mechanism, figure symbol interlocks are designed so that the coded key operates with the like-coded lock surface, rather than engaging into the typical internal tumbler mechanism. Figure symbol locks remove this unwanted feature, making them more practical for the food industry.
5) Improving operator efficiency
Figure symbol trapped key interlocks improve operator efficiency in multi-language and temporary worker environments by introducing a coding system, which is easy to identify, and preventing shortcuts and operator error.
By: David Hughes, Sales Director, Castell Safety International Ltd.
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