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Replacing traditional hard-wired safety systems can pay big dividends for manufacturers.

Safety systems and methodologies are among the last disciplines in the world of industrial automation to be transformed by the power of modern, digital technologies. For good reason, engineers want to be extra cautious when lives are literally on the line. This issue of Automation World explores three aspects of the digital safety revolution—networks, embedded motion safety and safety integrated systems.

Engineers and operations managers have proven the various cost benefits found in fieldbus networking for control. In an article beginning on page 32, Automation World Managing Editor Wes Iversen shows how safe versions of open-architecture fieldbus networks can pay big dividends to manufacturers.

Sometimes in a motion control application, it can be unsafe to cut power to all actuators in an emergency stop situation. In a story that begins on page 41, Contributing Editor James Koelsch describes various approaches being used by motion control suppliers to bring motion safely to a halt.

When the interactions of a safety system and an automation control system are closely aligned, running duplicates of all the wiring and processors doesn’t seem to make sense. Contributing Editor Rob Spiegel, in an article beginning on page 46, reports on how the blending of safety and control is still a major thrust in process safety.

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