MRO Magazine

Machinery and process safety rules to change in world of mechatronics

A new integrated industrial safety program covering all aspects of industrial automation has been unveiled by Siemens Canada.Calling it "the most comprehensive program available from any source today,...

June 1, 2002 | By MRO Magazine

A new integrated industrial safety program covering all aspects of industrial automation has been unveiled by Siemens Canada.

Calling it “the most comprehensive program available from any source today,” senior vice-president Guenter Brecheis noted that the initiative is in response to what he described as a paradigm shift in industrial technology that will benefit from the company’s leadership in integrated safety.

“In the area of safety, we are at a paradigm shift. In the machinery and process worlds, we are moving away from mechanical to electronic devices. Our customers understand the benefits of the dramatic shift to mechatronics, as the merger of mechanical, hydraulic and pneumatic with electronics is called. The result is new devices that are more electronic than mechanical. Safety products must work in this new mechatronic world.”

Combining Siemens safety devices and technology products, many of which can be embedded in standard automation devices, will provide the market with an economical alternative to stand-alone safety systems or access to leading technology that can be used on its own, the company reports.


Technology, Brecheis says, has reached a level of sophistication that now supports an integrated approach in what he termed “the realization of the digital enterprise …. The result of this is that … Siemens is able to provide an integrated, scalable and open safety solution across all industries and across all applications.

“One of our key objectives is to create intelligent, system-related, integrated safety involving our whole range of automation and drive products, our process control systems and all related aspects of our business.”

Brecheis commented on today’s changing regulatory environment. “The rules of industry are changing. In safety today, the threshold is zero tolerance. Canadian workers should expect to be able to work in safe environments and changing government regulations ensure that there is no other option.

“The same technologies that have produced impressive productivity gains, and opened the door to mechatronics, can be ‘safety integrated’ through the employment of what we are calling revolutionary technologies, such as our Safety PLCs and open safety fieldbuses.”

The Siemens integrated safety program product offering is a comprehensive collection of control devices, PLCs, fieldBus systems, CNC controls and drives.

Brecheis identified factors that are driving change in safety technology:

The rise of leading edge safety technology: Safety PLC and Open Safety Fieldbuses

Greater intelligence from safety products

Open architecture fieldbuses, e.g. ProfiSafe and/or AS-I Safety at Work

Single-source supplier for products, services and solutions — one company to take full responsibility

A requirement by the market for complete solutions, and

Compliance with machine functional safety standards.


A memorial service was held May 3, 2002, at the Angus Glen Golf & Country Club in Markham, Ont., for Dan Thrussell, 63, a former executive with FAG Bearings Ltd., Mississauga, Ont. Mr. Thrussell died April 22, 2002, after a six-month struggle with cancer.

His career at FAG spanned 38 years. He held various management positions and contributed greatly to the success of FAG, said Bob Marshall, vice-president and general manager of FAG’s national sales division in Canada.

“Dan was a great friend and colleague to many of us at FAG. He has touched many of our lives and he will be deeply missed,” Mr. Marshall said.

Mr. Thrussell transferred in January 1999 to the U.S. to serve as vice-president of sales and marketing of FAG Bearings Corporation, Danbury, Conn. He retired from active service with the company in February this year.


Motion Industries Inc. of Mississauga, Ont., has introduced a new, upgraded version of, its comprehensive Internet-based procurement system. The website provides Motion customers with real-time access to parts and MRO inventory.

Motion Canada president Jim Clark introduced the changes to the online program in a demonstration for Machinery & Equipment MRO recently. version 3.0 provides an expanded and more efficient online service, said Clark. One of the goals of the upgrade, he said, was to allow users to navigate the site using fewer mouse clicks to drill down into product details. All major functions are now found on the home page.

Users can search for product price and availability, request quotes, check stock, enter orders, receive e-mail order confirmation, track order status and view account balance information.

Also new are specifications, pictures and engineering drawings of core products, a product search filtered by manufacturer name, a list of the user’s recently purchased items, express ordering and order templates.

Products listed on the site include bearings, mechanical power transmission, electrical power transmission and fluid power transmission replacement parts, and hose products. Motion Industries has more than 500 operations including several branches in Canada and nine distribution centres throughout North America.

Motion also operates a separate website for its suppliers called InMotion. “The web is a tool to help us do business more efficiently,” said Clark.

Motion has acquired several Canadian distributors over the past few years which are now among its branches. They include BGS, CHV, Lou’s Bearings, the MBS Group and Premier. More acquisitions are possible, Clark said. “We do want to have a strong presence in Canada.” Motion Canada is a subsidiary of Motion Industries of Birmingham, Ala., which is in turn owned by Genuine Parts Company.


Close to 50 people turned out for a recent meeting of the MEMAC Council of CME (Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters) at the Ford Motor Company of Canada truck plant in Oakville, Ont., reports Council chairman Larry Barrett of Emerson Electric Canada. (The group was formerly the Machinery & Equipment Manufacturers Association of Canada.)

Barrett commented that the plant tour was very appropriate as the equipment seen “is what MEMAC members produce to a large extent. Industrial automation and conveying equipment is a large part of the MEMAC membership.”

Following the tour, two presentations were given, one on Directors and Officers Liability, by Kevin Coon of Baker & McKenzie, and a second on The New Employment Standards Act, by Jeff Goodman of Heenan Blaikie. Both are Toronto-based legal firms.

Coon, an expert in the area of health and safety, told the members that fines had been increasing in this area of the law. “It is not uncommon to find fines of between $25,000 and $40,000, plus a 25 per cent surcharge for first offences. If it happens to be a critical injury or fatality, the fine could be $75,000 for a first offence.”

The government has undertaken an aggressive prosecution agenda, he said. “Supervisors have been targeted. In some cases jail terms are being sought. This is a relatively new approach for the ministry. In the past, ‘deals’ were struck to stay charges and put that money into the plant to make safety improvements there. This is not the case any more; significant fines are now being sought and such deals are not being pursued.”

Current targets for the ministry include machine guarding, fall hazards, lifting devices and health hazards.

The MEMAC meeting concluded with a business conditions roundtable discussion that focused on the issues and tough economic situations that were being faced by members. MRO

Pick up PHOTO from archive: June 2000 #306


After suffering a double-digit decline in 2001, the North American AC drives market is expected to resume growth in 2002, according to a market research and technology forecast report by Drives Research Corp. of San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

The company predicts nearly 3% growth for AC drives in North Ameri
ca in 2002, with stronger growth following over the next few years of between 4% and 7%.

“We expect the billion-dollar-plus North American AC drives market to post nearly a 6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the next five years through 2006, compared to the 8% achieved from 1995 to 2000,” said Tom Kaporch, president of Drives Research. He is the principal author of the market research and technology forecast report AC Drives Outlook for North America 2002-2006.

Growth in North America will be driven by the need for energy conservation, higher productivity, neglected infrastructure needs and new emerging applications, the report states. It will be led by the process industries and utilities market segments, with building HVAC, material-handling, semiconductor fabrication and packaging machinery also showing significant improvements.

Industrial manufacturing growth, however, will lag slightly, according to Kaporch, but this will be offset by emerging applications such as marine propulsion, non-auto traction, commercial and household appliances and products.

Price erosion, consolidation and globalization will continue to have an impact on the industry, Kaporch noted, even as integrated power electronics packaging solutions, power ICs, and dedicated DSP and microprocessor motor control solutions continue to lower the barriers to entry in the fragmented industry.

With more than 32 AC drive suppliers currently serving the North American market and the majority of low- and medium-power AC drives viewed as commodity products, the effort to deliver value differentiation by price, application-specific solutions, system integration, and distribution channel is expected to intensify, he said.

The study identifies increased intelligence, sensorless control, multilevel converter topologies, active front-ends, and new advanced control schemes as key trends that will have an impact on AC drive design in the future, while new high-voltage power semiconductors will reduce the cost of medium-voltage AC drives, greatly expanding their application opportunities.

In the longer run, Kaporch notes, high-temperature silicon-carbide power semiconductors, bi-directional current capability, matrix converter topologies, and neural/fuzzy logic-based control schemes promise to revolutionize the industry, propelling it into a new level of explosive growth.


The Timken Company of Canton, Ohio, plans to make laser ultrasonic technology commercially available to steel manufacturers. The technology, a gauging system that enables more efficient manufacturing of seamless steel tubing, successfully completed a rigorous testing period at the company’s Gambrinus Steel Plant.

Timken, in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, began development of the system in March of 1999.

The laser-based measuring system helps ensure that steel tubes are produced with a more uniform wall, reducing the need for removing excess material from the tube wall. “The capabilities of this laser ultrasonic system extend far beyond those of previous radiation gauging techniques,” said Raymond V. Fryan, director, process improvement – alloy steel. “Most importantly, measuring the full- length of the tube during manufacturing not only verifies quality of the entire tube, it also reduces mill downtime by significantly reducing the need for sampling.”


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