Safety light curtains, or as they are often known as – light barriers, light grids and light guards to mention just a few alternatives are classed as Electro-sensitive Protective Equipment. Consisting of a transmitter and a receiver head, light curtains generate a field of infrared light between these heads which is classed as the detection zone.
Invisible Light Protection
Typically, these diligent devices are situated around access points to a piece of processing machinery, shutting down the device should a person, or a part of a person, cross the beams of the safety grid. Advantages of a light curtain include reduced operator fatigue, when compared to mechanical options such as gates and barriers, and the subsequent upkeep of these mechanisms and simplifying maintenance and set-up times.
Utilised across numerous industry sectors for many years, light curtains come in many shapes and sizes. Schmersal, renowned for their impressive range of Safety Light Curtains decided to add yet more functionality to these popular process safety devices by adding a built-in high specification Blue Tooth interface.
The Schmersal SLC440/COM Safety Light Curtain range with built-in Bluetooth BLE (BLE stands for Bluetooth Low Energy) is an active optoelectronic protective device that can provide real-time status and diagnostic data of the light grid on a smartphone or a tablet via a Bluetooth interface.
Ideal for Predictive Maintenance
The Bluetooth interface allows easy start-up using a smartphone or tablet with the integrated set-up aid. There is also the useful option of saving the data, which can then be used to document a repeat test or for predictive maintenance purposes. The transmission of data to smartphones / tablets (Android, IOS) is facilitated by an app developed by Schmersal.
NFC technology has been used successfully in the past when it came to recording and monitoring device diagnostic data, however it is limited to only a few centimetres. The Bluetooth BLE interface contained within the SLC440/COM Light Curtains can achieve a range of up to 100 times more, around 5 metres in total.
This means the BLE interface is perfect when the safety light curtain installation is in a relatively inaccessible position. Bluetooth BLE also offers a greater range of applications because not all smartphones or tablets are equipped with NFC. As Bluetooth is an international industrial standard, the SLC440/COM range can be used all over the world.
Safety and Efficiency
The SLC440/COM Safety Light Grid with BLE are ideal for improving efficiency and availability in manufacturing processes as their status can be accessed easily and in real-time, meaning issues can be captured early. Status information and diagnostic data enables processes to be reactivated quicker, particularly in the event of a system shutdown if a hazard is detected.
It also represents an economical innovation as, compared to classic Bluetooth, BLE is characterised by considerably lower energy consumption and reduced costs at a similarly high communication range.
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