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Annual Packaging Automation Forum Examines Machine Safety

Held in Chicago on April 26, the Packaging Automation Forum featured three presentations and a panel discussion on the role of machine safety and risk assessments in discrete manufacturing. Packaging World and Automation World magazines produce this annual conference that covers automation and control trends in the packaging space.

Roberta Nelson Shea discusses the need for risk assessment to be included in safety standards. Also included are Dave Herrington
Roberta Nelson Shea discusses the need for risk assessment to be included in safety standards. Also included are Dave Herrington
For the safety session in the afternoon, each subject matter expert provided a presentation on one safety component in automation. First to present was Dave Herrington, safety & environmental director, Kraft, and he provided the company's safety strategy for its 250 manufacturing plants worldwide. Kraft pushes the machine safety and implementation to its safety, security environmental managers at each manufacturing plant. Its safety team model, comprised of safety managers from each manufacturing site, also reports to a corporate central steering team for guidance on rules and procedures and engineering practices.

"The plants are doing the work and we devote our (safety) resources to the business units (the individual manufacturing plants)," says Herrington. He cited that the incident rate for Kraft was down 40 percent between 2005-2010. Other safety challenges for Kraft include risk assessments, which is contracted to a SICK, Inc. Herrington adds, “Risk assessment is not exactly intuitive for the engineering team. That’s why we brought in SICK.”

Roberta Nelson Shea, president of Safety Compliance Services, provided a presentation on how safety and lean manufacturing can coexist. She emphasized “embedded” lean manufacturing can produce a sustainable (efficient) workflow, and pointed to ANSI B11.TR7, the standard on designing for safety and lean manufacturing.

The third presentation saw Fred Hayes, director technical services for the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI), talk about the harmonization of safety standards between Europe and North America. He also added there was a big education gap with EN ISO 13849-1, which is the standard that replaces EN 954-1. ISO 13849-1 goes into effect Jan 1, 2012 and it addresses programmable electronic safety devices that are used in more modern machines.

The three presenters comprised the safety panel and took questions from the audience that focused primarily on how do end users get a risk assessment from machine builders. Shea responded that a new robotic safety standard requires a robotic manufacturer or integrator to provide a risk assessment, if requested by a manufacturer. She added a fee would be required for the risk assessment. Hayes countered that end users can get risk assessments from OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) right now, as long as a contractual agreement is spelled out.

The morning session of the conference focused on production line optimization (visible data for the enterprise), the PackML control language and case application from Nestle on PackML. For more coverage on the Packaging Automation Forum, visit

Packaging Automation Forum

Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI)


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