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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Electric Actuators-Safety

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4 Industrial Safety Solutions for Electric Actuators

4 Industrial Safety Solutions for Electric Actuators.
By Progressive Automations

According to statistics, the number of fatal injuries at the workplace is declining. Preliminary data* for 2012 reports that there are almost 2,000 fewer fatal injuries at the workplace than there were in 1992  - down to 4,383 from 6,217. That isn't to say we've made it to the golden age of safety, we can now offer up three cheers and throw our safety helmets into the air while the machines are running. In fact, this data begs the question ‘how can we further increase industrial safety among workers?’ This is where electric actuators and industrial safety solutions come in.

It’s hard to think of a manufacturing industry that doesn't make use of electric actuators, but if you don’t have enough information about these systems, it can be surprisingly easy to make an honest mistake in which the least of consequences is losing your sanity during the worker’s claim process. Nobody wants to see injuries on the job happen, so we've compiled this list of electric actuator safety solutions designed to inform workers and managers in industrial settings.

Safety Solution #1: IP Rating
Know your IP rating. Electric actuators follow the IP Rating system for Industrial Instrumentation. Any electric actuator used in an industrial setting must have an IP rating of IP54 at the very least. If not, you might as well get your pen ready for that worker’s claim. IP54 (Ingress Protection) means your system has a protection rating of 5 and 4. This will protect your fingers from getting caught in the component and from most dust, but won’t protect you if you dunk it in water or take a swim with it.
Knowing what you can and cannot do with and around your actuators may just prevent an unnecessary injury. 

Safety Solution #2: PPE
Just because your car has a seat-belt and an airbag doesn't mean you should careen down the road at four times the speed limit with your head out the window screaming, “It’s okay! I’m wearing a seatbelt!” Same goes for industrial safety. You might feel like a dork wearing safety glasses, but you'd feel like even more of a dork if you lost an eye. Wear your PPE. PPE for any electric actuator includes proper gloves, eyewear and forethought before taking any action. If an electric actuator is rated for that particular system, the unexpected can still happen. After long periods of use (months or years depending on the quality), these components can become more likely to fail.

Safety Solution #3: General Maintenance
Maintenance for electric actuators takes almost no work at all when you put it up against a pneumatic or a hydraulic actuator. If the entire system has been installed correctly, the only thing you should have to worry about is normal wear and tear, and lubrication. If you’re concerned about lubricating your actuator, don’t know how or aren't sure how to tell if it needs lubrication, contact your manufacturer, and they should be able to inform you on the process.

Safety Solution #4: Prevent Project Failure
One of the most common reasons for project failure is improper loading. Since gravity is a force that will take precedence for the foreseeable future, we must obey it. That means that if you've side loaded or off-centered your electric actuators, the time it takes for normal wear and tear to affect your component is accelerated. For lead screw actuators, the screw can rub up against the housing of the mechanism, wear away at a faster rate than is normal and cause failure at a moment when you’re not expecting it. This is simply a case of measure twice and cut once. Just be sure that everything is level and that you know what to expect from your actuators before you hit that ‘on’ switch.
The statistics for workplace safety have been showing a positive trend over the past decade, but without proper education and implementation of new and already-existing procedures for safety, those statistics don’t take on much meaning – not to mention they'll start to look a lot worse again. If you work with something that moves, chances are that you’re working with actuators. Take a step toward industrial safety solutions for your industry, and educate yourself, your coworkers and your employees.

*Preliminary data does not necessarily reflect the actual numbers.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2013. 


Progressive Automations manufactures and distributes affordable, high-quality automation products all across North America. As they continually strive to keep their name synonymous with new, innovative technology, they place an unsurpassed value on customer service and mutual benefit. 

Don (Follow me on Industrial Skills Training Blog and on Twitter @IndTraining .) Be sure to to stay on top!

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