Productive working places are safe working places
Parallel to the automotive industry, and about at the same time, the laundry industry emerged, also in the industrial era at the end of the 19th century. The first laundry machines had the same function as the vehicle: to automate a manual process. The 20th century then saw a development of modern laundry machines, with machines becoming faster, better, more productive and using less energy. It is our obligation, as machine manufacturers, to embrace the same philosophy for the people using our equipment as the car manufacturers do for the drivers of their cars.
Both industries share the same evolution. Improved concepts focus on saving resources, ergonomics and easy maintenance. Intelligent networking using the latest technology standards and forward thinking systems expand on the existing safety aspects.
Eco-social costs in heavy-duty laundries
Workplace related injuries and illnesses have a major impact on the bottom line. In addition to the direct "cash out" costs like compensation payments, medical expenses and the increase in insurance fee, there are quite a few indirect costs that may not always be properly calculated and considered.
The recruiting and replacement costs for instance, the lost productivity and the lower employee morale - which becomes a vicious circle with an impressive price tag. That's why more and more laundries have started to introduce a new bottom-line. They look at the eco-social costs and benefits of having clean linen available at the right time, at the right place. At the same time, they also consider the well-being of the people using the linen, and the safety of those processing the linen.
The potential risks from operating some laundry machines may be numerous. All kinds of machinery are powered by and consume some kind of energy, making parts of most machines move. This may present mechanical hazards. A common energy source driving machines is electricity, and this may present electrical hazards as well. Furthermore, there may be even more energy sources driving machines, e.g. pneumatics and hydraulics, presenting even more potential hazards. And there may even be pressurized vessels containing steam, liquids or pressurized air on machines presenting yet more potential hazards.
To set some standards on how to build safe machines, a number of bodies has
issued, and of course still do, a host of international standards.
The ISO (International Organization for Standardization), founded in 1947, promotes worldwide proprietary, industrial and commercial standards. This organization was formed on the predecessor, the ISA (International Federation of the National Standardizing Associations), founded in 1926. By far most of the industrialized countries in the world (164 national members) are ISO members today.
The oldest body, the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) prepares and publishes international standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies. The IEC held its inaugural meeting on June 26th 1906 and is made up of members, called national committees. Again, by far most of the industrialized countries in the world are IEC members.
With the forming of the EEC, rules were harmonized within Europe. The EEC issued Directives which the member countries were and still are obliged to introduce as national law. To help fulfill these Directives, bodies were formed to issue so-called harmonized standards. On the machinery field two bodies were formed. These being the CENELEC and the CEN. The European Committee for Standardization (CEN, French: Comité Européen de Normalisation), founded in 1961, issues European Standards (EN’s). The CEN issues standards in association with ISO (EN ISO’s), creating harmonized standards for almost all the world. The European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC, French: Comité Européen de Normalisation Électrotechnique), founded in 1973, is responsible for European standardization in the area of electrical engineering, and works closely together with the IEC.
Our obligation: Past, Present and Future
The JENSEN-GROUP has always taken the safety of users most seriously. As machine suppliers for the industrial laundry business, we have long ago acknowledged that no person should risk his or her health by doing his or her job.
When the Machinery Directive was first issued, the date of entry into force of this Directive was January 1st 1993, with a mandatory effective dated on January 1st, 1995, we were ready within the JENSEN-GROUP. During 1993 employees were assigned to implement it into our machines in order to be able to CE-mark these appropriately after January 1st 1995. Employees, some the same, some new, have ever since been dedicated exclusively to machine safety and keeping our internal standards ahead of best practice and requirement.
Today, this task has not decreased and to the contrary, new directives, new issues of existing directives emerge regularly while new and revised harmonized standards are issued constantly. New standards usually mean a stricter level of safety as the state-of-the-art improvements, we also have to look into local requirements for certain countries where local authorities have higher standards making the task to integrate and harmonize harder as there is always conflicts.
The rationale of the whole idea of the CE-marking procedure is that it is up to the machine supplier to do all the work themselves, and that they place on the CE-mark as a proof that they have obliged to the essential health and safety issues of the Machinery Directive’s Annex 1.
As a further proof they issue a Declaration of Conformity on which they state which directives their machine is covered by. To aid this, the standard organization of the country supplies the formerly mentioned harmonized standards. It is not mandatory to use these harmonized standards, everybody is free to use other standards, but the harmonized ones describe a minimum level of safety, and compliance should be the absolute minimum.
Assessing the risk
One of many things new points when the directives were first introduced was that all machines would have to undergo a documented risk assessment. Surely machine designers have always done that, without documenting it though. There is an immense difference between doing a risk assessment and documenting it correctly. The obligation to document forces people to think and formalize, which is exactly what was intended.
Machines offered from the JENSEN-GROUP have been through extensive risk assessments and evaluations on all points which might present a hazard. This work is thoroughly documented, and is saved in the Technical Dossier for each machine type.
Evolution of machines and machine safety
In recent years machines have been through a massive evolution, mechanically, environmentally and safety-wise including electronically, with higher utilisation and output required. This in turn puts great demands on the control systems, in older times you just pulled out the plug, and then you had safety. We are dependent on the reliability of the components when switches are introduced on e.g. doors or guards which will stop the machines if these doors or guards are opened to ensure reliability and repeatability. Finally, emergency stop circuits must, of course, be highly reliable. The components for these circuits are naturally called “Safety-related parts of control systems”. To design a safety-related circuit you must perform yet another risk assessment, this will lead to a level of how to design the circuit, a so-called Performance Level. Generally the higher the level the more reliable components must be used, and at some point there are demands for redundant circuits in order to reach the required Performance Level. In the early days, we had an EN standard called EN 954-1 on safety-related parts of control systems. This was for a long time regarded as a difficult and complicated standard to use and it presented completely new concepts to grasp.
But later, two new standards were issued together with yet another concept, namely “Functional Safety”. This concept was introduced with the new EN 62061 originating from the IEC, along then came also EN ISO 13849 on basically the same subject. Finding the old EN 954 complicated companies were stunned with the requirement of information in the two new standards. Indeed, there were an impressive number of pages and many new concepts to consider. Though machine builders are free to choose either one of these standards, you had to study both to find out which one would apply the best & give most benefit to users of the machines.
Today most machine builders prefer to use 13849, but work is finally in progress to merge these two standards into one new and, hopefully, more user-friendly standard.
In JENSEN machines you will find highly reliable components integrated into the safety-related circuits. Most of these circuits are designed redundantly to obtain a very high reliability. This makes it possible to handle several safety circuits in any machine as well as making built-together machines communicate easily with each other. The emergency stop circuits work from one machine to another, meaning that a press on any emergency stop button will stop an entire line. Just as reliable as if it is on a standalone machine.
Safety relays for guards and doors
Also on the subject of guards or doors, we draw on the safety relay. Thus many guards and doors on JENSEN-GROUP machinery are interlocked, meaning that the machines are safely stopped when the guard or door is opened. All JENSEN safety functions have been verified using the popular and reliable tool called SISTEMA (Safety Integrity Software Tool for the Evaluation of Machine Applications). This, of course, is also documented and saved in the Technical Dossier of the machine type.
As mentioned in the beginning, we at the JENSEN-GROUP are taking the “Best in Class” route. This makes JENSEN a reliable safety partner for large corporate groups as well as locally operating laundries, making sure that we continue to anticipate the movements of the future by developing safety components before we will be forced by law to catch up.
People want more from work than money: a safe and comfortable working place raises the productivity. We also believe that machine safety has to go beyond regulations. Same as the car manufacturers developed the airbag and the safety belts long before they became industry standards, it is also our obligation to embrace the applicable law as a basic must, and to have a vision how safety solutions will add to the total sustainability of each and every laundry.