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The Importance of Safety Light Curtains in Machinery 

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Although working with heavy machinery will always pose potential risks, you and your workers must be as safe as possible when you’re on the job. As well as ensuring that your staff is well protected with the necessary PPE, you’re obliged to make sure that you take safety precautions related to equipment and machinery. As health and safety practices in construction, manufacturing, and industrial workplaces only continue to improve, we’re seeing more semi-automatic machinery featuring in-built safety light curtains as standard. If you’re a new business owner looking for the best tools of the trade for your workers, let’s see why safety light curtains for machinery are so important in the workplace: 

What are light curtains? 

Light curtains (also known as light guards, light grids, or light barriers) are safety devices usually used to detect motion and stop machinery in the case of a hazardous obstruction. Essentially, this kind of Electro-Sensitive Protective Equipment (ESPE) creates a barrier around hazards – when a human body part enters the hazardous zone (known as ‘blanking’ or ‘muting’), an alert is transmitted and the machinery is stopped safely, reducing the risk of serious injury in the workplace.

How are light curtains used in machinery? 

Safety light curtains are made up of two main components – a transmitter and a receiver. Between these, the transmitter sends off a series of LEDs, which are picked up in sequence by electric cells in the receiver using infrared light. When these two components are placed opposite to each other, a barrier field is created, and when an object (such as a human arm or head) passes through this space, the machinery will be stopped automatically.  Light curtains are usually best applied to semi-automatic processes in which a human is required to operate heavy, potentially dangerous machinery, and are considered a more efficient modern alternative to physical machine guards. Depending on the machinery in question, light guards may be used to prevent a machine from starting up or to shut down a machine that’s already running – they generally may be defined as presence sensing or perimeter guarding devices. 

Troubleshooting with light curtains 

Light curtains are fairly reliable devices, but you must regularly maintain and test safety light curtains to reduce risk and degradation over time. Some of the most common issues related to these devices include machinery stopping too slowly and inconsistent halting – both of these problems can usually be solved by fine-tuning the drive, controls, and settings, however, don’t hesitate to replace your safety light curtain if it’s not up to the job.  Ensure that both the top beam and bottom beam are well placed and that there are no gaps in the LED barrier before running any machinery with a safety light curtain.