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Why replace old safety mats – Sick Sensors

For over half a century, safety mats have been used in virtually every industry as a standard form of area protection in the plant environment. For an old technology in a technological age, safety mats have proven quite resilient.

There was a time when safety mats made sense, but safety laser scanners are relegating that period to history. By providing better protection and ensuring continuity of production at less cost over the life of a machine or facility, safety laser scanners have become the component of choice for machine safeguarding and other safety applications within the plant environment.

For safety mats to perform their designed function, they must be contacted, which wears them out. The initial price point of laser safety scanners has fallen by 50 percent; when total cost-of-ownership is considered, the overall ROI for safety scanners is significantly better than safety mats. If you have to replace a safety mat once or twice, you’ve exceeded the cost of a safety scanner; this doesn’t even factor in the improved safety and higher productivity scanners enable. These latter factors are the principal reasons laser scanners have largely supplanted safety mats in the EU, particularly the improved safety functionality.

A Closer Look at Scanner Technology

Safety laser scanners define safety and warning fields, also referred to as zones. These zones are freely programmable and can be changed dynamically by an input to the safety scanner. When an object is detected in the defined warning field, the scanner initiates a warning output signal (an audible or visible indicator) that can be used to notify someone in the area that they are entering an area where there are potential hazards. When an object enters the safety field, a safety stop is initiated to safely stop the hazardous motion of the machine.

Powerful Advantages

Laser safety scanners provide a number of key advantages over safety mats:

  • Non-contact functionality
  • Adjustability
  • One-piece design
  • Warning field protection

Because they are not “one-size fits all,” mats also present stocking issues. For example, if a manufacturer has 20 machines, he might have to stock various sizes of mats for the different machines and floor plans required. Moreover, if the manufacturer buys new safety mats, and there's a change in version, there may be an incompatibility problem with some control boxes. With the laser safety scanner, you simply take the output and go into any safety relay.