Fortress Interlocks: Protecting People, Protecting Productivity

Fortress Interlocks has over 40 years of experience in the safety market, designing and manufacturing safety access and control systems from its headquarters in Wolverhampton in the UK. Its mission is simple: protecting people, protecting productivity.

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A world leader in networked access control systems, Fortress’ technology helps create safer workplaces where employees in industrial environment are safeguarded from injury, equipment is protected from damage, and productivity is enhanced. The company’s products ensure that actions and events are undertaken in a pre-determined sequence, ensuring a safe working environment.

The company’s products are suitable for an extremely wide range of industrial applications, including power generation and distribution, iron and steel, automotive manufacturing, food and beverage, recycling, building and construction, robotics and palletisers. Its extensive produce offering and experience means Fortress can provide solutions for all safeguarding applications. It also regularly provides bespoke products for unique applications, often by customising its standard product range. Read more…

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Fortress’ proNET Nominated for Tomorrow’s Health and Safety Award

Fortress Interlocks’ proNET safety and communications module has been nominated for the Tomorrow’s Health and Safety Awards 2017.

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proNET adds industrial Ethernet communications to its amGardpro range of safety interlocks, which enables the amGardpro’s features to be distributed IO (input-output) on a PROFINET network, with safety information exchanged using PROFIsafe extensions. Added benefits include reduced installation costs, easier maintenance and greater availability of data for improved diagnosis.

Most safety interlocks are either not electrically connected (deliberately so in the case of some mechanical, trapped key interlocks) or are ‘wired at gate’, meaning all electrical connections go via a control PLC and safety relay. This can mean up to 20 wires from each device going to the control panel. proNET overcomes this by taking advantage of PROFINET and PROFIsafe, allowing operators to have just one power and Ethernet cable going from the control panel, allowing devices to be attached in a variety of topologies, depending on requirements.

The amGardpro is a range of fully integrated safety interlocks, including solenoid and non-solenoid safety switches. It has an extensive range of additional options, including key control modules, internal and escape release, redundant sensors, lock out/tag out, push buttons, estops and indication lights for enhanced functionality, all assembled in one device. The robust construction of the amGardpro makes it ideal for a host of industrial applications when safety, strength and reliability are of paramount importance.

“We’re delighted with this nomination,” commented Fortress’ Technical Director Rob Johnson. “Making our products compatible with industrial safety networks is an essential requirement for our customers. With the launch of proNET, we’re ensuring we not only meet, but exceed what people expect from us when it comes to industrial networking.”

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Extracted Key Adaptor from Fortress Prevents Inadvertent Machinery Startup

To prevent the inadvertent startup of dangerous machinery, Fortress Interlocks has developed an extracted key adaptor for use with its robust amGardpro, amGardS40 (IP69K) and mGard interlock ranges.

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By forcing an operator to extract the safety key when operating an interlock, the adaptor ensures the key cannot be turned and left in place, inadvertently re-starting machinery.

It is designed to be kept with the operator, ensuring any access points cannot be closed and re-started while working in a hazardous area. Additional safety keys can be released following the forced extraction of the initial key, allowing the protection of multiple users at the same time.

The extracted key adaptor utilises the ‘CL lock’, which has over 200,000 unique combinations, meaning it works with even the largest systems. It is also available with a padlockable dust cover to be compatible with standard lockout procedures.

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Safety during CIP ensured with IP69K-rated interlocks and safety switches from Fortress

Strict health and safety standards in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries require all machinery used in the production process to be thoroughly sanitised at regular intervals to keep equipment clean and eliminate the risk of bacterial contamination. This automated cleaning process, known as Cleaning in Place (CIP), uses a mix of chemicals, heat and water to clean machinery, vessels or pipework without having to dismantle plant.

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Because of the high pressures, harsh chemicals and high temperatures used in CIP, an adequate safety system is needed to protect personnel. This safety equipment must itself be able to withstand the CIP process which can seriously damage electronic circuits and instrumentation and cause substances such as dust and food waste to penetrate the equipment, causing it to fail. This usually requires an ingress protection (IP) rating of IP69K – the highest rating available.

Any interlocks and safety switches installed on safety equipment must also be IP69K-rated. Unfortunately most interlocks currently available offer very limited flexibility, focussing solely on achieving IP69K but failing to take into account other safety hazards manufacturers need to safeguard against.

If, for example, access to a machine subjected to CIP is required but there is a possibility that a worker could be hidden from view while inside the machine, there needs to be an effective safeguard in place to ensure the guard door cannot be locked closed and the machine restarted until the worker leaves the danger zone. The most effective and simple method to achieve this is with a safety key which a worker takes inside the machine to prevent inadvertent start-up. Read more…

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With Fortress Interlocks it’s always safety first

Fortress Interlocks has a simple mission: to help businesses protect their human and capital assets.

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The company has been doing this for over 40 years by designing and manufacturing machinery access and control systems for industrial applications. These range from power generation, steelmaking and automotive manufacturing to food and beverage processing, materials recycling and construction. This means the company has become very well known in the industry for innovative design, robust engineering and reliability.

Human error is always a possibility when operating dangerous machinery and it is the employer’s responsibility to guarantee the safety of its workers by installing adequate safety systems are in place.

One way to ensure worker safety is machine guarding. However, machine guarding alone isn’t enough to ensure safe working practices, as there is nothing to prevent workers from using designated access points to gain entry into live machinery. It is usually necessary to include safety interlocking into the process.

Safety interlocks – like those manufactured by Fortress Interlocks – prevent access to powered machinery and stop inadvertent start-ups while personnel are inside a dangerous area. They do this by forcing operators to isolate the power before anyone gains access. Maximum protection is afforded by incorporating keys into an interlocking system – this forces workers to retain a personal safety key with them while working inside the machine, so power can only be restarted once all the keys have been returned to their original positions. Read more…

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Fortress tGard Interlock Switches and Control Devices Get TÜV SÜD Certification

Fortress Interlocks has achieved TÜV SÜD European, Canadian and U.S. approval for its tGard range of interlock switches and control devices. This means they meet all the necessary requirements of the European Machinery Directive and the Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory Program (NRTL) in North America.

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tGard is a compact, metal-bodied interlock system that allows the configuration of a wide range of safety products, including electrical safety gate switches (with or without guard locking), mechanical trapped key interlocks and electrical operator controls – either as separate devices or integrated into one device.

Highly versatile, tGard includes selector switches, safety switches (solenoid and non-solenoid), personnel keys (safety keys), emergency release, push buttons, estops, indicator lamps as well a choice of operating handles for both hinged and sliding guard doors. These elements are simply selected and then assembled into a robust housing which is suitable for mounting onto machine guarding.

All tGard components are quick and easy to install and can be mounted directly onto a flat surface, doors or extruded aluminium profiles without needing mounting plates or brackets. Why not watch the tGard video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3CoY4IiDik)?

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Fortress Launches Stainless Steel Interlock Switches for High Purity Applications

Fortress Interlocks has launched a new range of rugged stainless steel interlock switches for high purity applications such as food, beverage, pharmaceutical and chemical processing. It is also suitable for outdoor use. Manufactured from 316 stainless steel and modular in design, the amGardS40 range can be configured to suit many industrial applications.

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Configurations for the amGardS40 include:
• Solenoid locking safety switches
• Non-solenoid tongue switches
• Mechanical trapped key interlocks
• Machine control stations

The switches are supplied in enclosures sealed to IP69K, allowing them to be pressure washed at high temperatures; they also have a retention force of 10,000N – the highest currently available on the market – so are ideal for ensuring guard doors are held closed until machines and/or processes are in a safe condition. Each module is just 40mm in width, so can easily be fitted to 40mm guarding sections or other areas where space is limited.

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Fortress Non-Contact Switch Gets TÜV SÜD Certification

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High resolution photo: http://halmapr.com/FOR/NCS_factory.jpg

Industrial safety specialist Fortress Interlocks has achieved TÜV SÜD certification for its new non-contact switch, the amGardncs. This means the device meets all the necessary requirements of the European Machinery Directive as part of a safety system.

“This is a big step forward for Fortress and is a welcome addition to our traditional product range, increasing our interlock capabilities,” commented Rob Johnson, the company’s senior electronics engineer.

Designed as part of Fortress’ new amGardnct range of safety interlocks, the amGardncs is a robust, coded, non-contact, safety proximity switch. Extremely long-lasting and requiring virtually no maintenance, it is ideal for applications where precise guidance of guards can be difficult. In addition it is resistant to shock and vibrations and offers coding as protection against tampering.

Key features of the amGardncs include:
• Stainless steel IP69K housing, ideal for high purity applications such as food, beverage and pharmaceutical manufacturing, or anywhere where robustness is important
• Long-lasting, requiring virtually no maintenance
• Resistant to shock and vibrations
• Copes with a high level of misalignment
• PLe Cat 4/SIL3 safety rating
• Can be used as a coded interlock in accordance with EN14119
• Integrated electronics monitor for faults and ensure safety relay does not enter a fault state
• Local user indication
• Monitor outputs for use in the control system
• Available with a variety of termination options

The amGard range of safety interlocks includes solenoid and non-solenoid safety switches and has an extensive range of additional options, including key control modules, internal and escape release, redundant sensors, lock out/tag out, push buttons, estops and indication lights, all assembled in one device. The robust construction of the amGard makes it ideal for a host of industrial applications when safety, strength and reliability are of paramount importance.

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Fortress Adds Industrial Ethernet Communications to its Interlocks

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High resolution photo: http://halmapr.com/FOR/Profinet_Factory.jpg

Industrial safety specialist Fortress Interlocks has added industrial Ethernet communications to its amGardpro range of safety interlocks. The new proNET communications module, which uses the PROFINET protocol and its extension PROFIsafe, integrates easily into the amGardpro range. This enables the amGardpro’s features to be distributed IO (input-output) on a PROFINET network, with safety information exchanged using PROFIsafe extensions. Added benefits include reduced installation costs, easier maintenance and greater availability of data for improved diagnosis.

Most safety interlocks are either not electrically connected (deliberately so in the case of some mechanical, trapped key interlocks) or are ‘wired at gate’, meaning all electrical connections go via a control PLC and safety relay. This can mean up to 20 wires from each device going to the control panel. The proNET module overcomes this by taking advantage of PROFINET and PROFIsafe, allowing operators to have just one power and Ethernet cable going from the control panel, allowing devices to be attached in a variety of topologies, depending on requirements.

The amGardpro is a range of fully integrated safety interlocks, including solenoid and non-solenoid safety switches. It has an extensive range of additional options, including key control modules, internal and escape release, redundant sensors, lock out/tag out, push buttons, estops and indication lights for enhanced functionality, all assembled in one device. The robust construction of the amGardpro makes it ideal for a host of industrial applications when safety, strength and reliability are of paramount importance.

“Making our products compatible with industrial safety networks is an essential requirement for our customers,” comments Fortress’ Managing Director Rob Lewis. “With the launch of proNET, we’re ensuring we not only meet, but exceed what people expect from us when it comes to industrial networking.”

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Fortress Interlocks Get Networked

tGard and amGardpro interlocks to get AS-i and PROFIsafe connectivity

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High resolution photo: http://halmapr.com/FOR/Profisafe_Factory_3.jpg

Industrial safety specialist Fortress Interlocks is integrating AS-interface (AS-i) and PROFIsafe (PROFIbus Safety or PROFInet Safety) connectivity into its tGard and amGardpro interlocks. The company is also developing non-contact switches and output signal switching devices which can be incorporated into its tGard and amGardpro units.

Most interlocks are either not electrically connected (deliberately so in the case of some mechanical, trapped key interlocks) or are ‘wired at gate’, meaning all electrical connections go via a control PLC and safety relay. This can mean up to 20 wires from each device going to the control panel.

To overcome this scenario, Fortress has developed a number of products that utilise either AS-i industrial networking or PROFIsafe communication technology. Both have major benefits:

AS-i is an industrial networking platform used in PLC, DCS and PC-based automation systems. It is designed to connect simple field I/O devices in manufacturing or process applications using a single 2-conductor cable. As-i connectivity dramatically reduces the number of wires required, making it possible, for example, to ‘daisy chain’ to up to 62 devices to one control panel.
PROFIsafe is a safety communication technology for distributed automation. It is designed as a separate layer on top of the fieldbus application layer to reduce the probability of data transmission errors. It allows operators to have just one power and Ethernet cable going from the control panel, allowing devices to be attached in a variety of topologies, depending on requirements.

Fortress in now integrating AS-i and/or PROFIsafe connectivity into the following safety products and over the coming months the following will be available:

• Both the tGard and amGardpro ranges will have AS-i networking
• The amGardpro will also be available with PROFIsafe
• A new stand-alone Non-Contact Switch with an AS-i version; this will also be integrated into the tGard and amGardpro ranges in the future
• An Output Signal Switching Device will be incorporated into the tGard and amGardpro

“Making our products compatible with industrial safety networks is an essential requirement for our customers,” comments Fortress’ Managing Director Rob Lewis. “With these new product developments being rolled out over the coming few months we’re ensuring we not only meet, but exceed what people expect from us when it comes to industrial networking.”

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