How to increase safety in the furniture industry?

The furniture industry is one of the most dynamically developing industries in Poland. In 2019 Poland ranked first in Europe and second in the world in the ranking of furniture exporters. Due to the specificity of the furniture industry, accidents are inevitable. Can Thermosafety prevent them?
Bezpieczeństwo pracowników w przemyśle meblarskim

Polish furniture companies have been at the top of the world in terms of production potential for years. Poland has excellent conditions for the development of the furniture industry. First of all, it has adequate wood resources and, secondly, a modern machine park. Continuous development, automation and robotization of production have increased productivity, and thus furniture production has remained profitable. Polish furniture brands offer their products to a wide range of customers. Also, they are valued not only in the European market, but also worldwide. Most of the Polish production goes to consumers abroad, i.e. to Germany, the Czech Republic or the United Kingdom.

How are production lines in the furniture industry safeguarded?

What machines are most commonly used in furniture manufacturing?

In modern furniture factories, the production line usually includes computer machine tools. They are characterized primarily by high precision and significant improvement and automation of the production process. What’s more, they allow the creation of objects of the desired shape and dimensions from almost any material. Machine tools used in the furniture industry, due to their application, can be divided into:

  • lathes,
  • drills,
  • milling machines,
  • drilling and milling machines,
  • boring machines,
  • milling and boring machines,
  • planers,
  • shapers,
  • broaching machines,
  • grinders,
  • polishers.

These machines are known and used in many industries, but they play an important role in wood processing companies – including furniture companies. In addition, they can be combined with other machines, e.g., through-hole drills or edgebanders. They work well in factories of different sizes. They can work as stand-alone machines or as part of a larger, more complex production line. The production line can be additionally equipped with, e.g. robotic workstations.

Standard protection of production lines in the furniture industry

In the furniture industry, standard protection is applied depending on the advancement of production lines, equipment used at production stations and health and safety requirements. These include guards, fences, light curtains, scanners, emergency shutdowns, light and sound signals, warning decals and signs, safety interlocks, and the LOTO system.

In the case of the above-mentioned devices, the most commonly used safety systems include guards and fences, emergency shutdowns and various types of safety interlocks.

Hazards occurring on production lines in the furniture company

Due to the large number of potential references needed for furniture production, safeguarding conveyors, conveyor belts and elements of production lines may be challenging. Movable components of equipment used in furniture production lines are often insufficiently secured. Sometimes the guards are installed inappropriately and misused. This is mainly due to the speed and efficiency limitations of the production line in the event of the need for rapid intervention of the employee/operator.

Is Thermosafety safety system able to safeguard the production lines of the furniture industry?

Employee hazards in the furniture industry – research

According to the data presented by J. Ratnasingam et al. in the analysis Determinants of Occupational Accidents in the Woodworking Sector: The Case of the Malaysian Wooden Furniture Industry (2011, Journal of Applied Sciences, 11: 561-566), the greatest threats to the safety of employees in the furniture production industry are:

  1. the nature of the work (non-adaptation of the workstation to the principles of ergonomics, inconvenient position, physically demanding and repetitive work),
  2. the technology used (hazardous machinery and equipment, the need to operate some of them manually, insufficient maintenance),
  3. layout of the plant (disrupted organization of work of people and machines, disorder),
  4. the behavior of employees (lack of appropriate training, ignoring health and safety rules, age, gender, and professional experience),
  5. safety regulations (lack of information, unadapted safety standards).

Which of the above issues can be addressed by Thermosafety safety system for the industry?

1. Our safety system protects people working near dangerous machines in a flexible way

Thermosafety provides the possibility to define 3 different working areas (virtual safety zones) with custom warning and alarm systems responses. The production line’s owner decides on the zones’ size and actions to be triggered by a human entering the zone. This guarantees the possibility of adjusting safety measures to the specificity of a given production cell or machine.

2. Safety system facilitating the reorganization of the production process

Additional protection of fenced machines and ensuring safety for machines that cannot be safeguarded with other safety systems can improve the production line processes. In addition, a bit of production hall space will be freed up and can serve purposes other than providing safety.

3. The use of Thermosafety is intuitive for employees

The system allows for quick implementation with minimal staff training. Moreover, the system cooperates with people in a predefined, adapted to the production process way.

4. This system is impossible to “hack”

Production line employees have different ways of circumventing physical safety barriers to speed up the production process or facilitate work. A big disadvantage of safety systems based on physical barriers is that they:

  • do not recognize or detect people;
  • are not able to determine how many people are in the area they are safeguarding.

Thermosafety, with its functionality of distinguishing between people and surrounding elements (even moving AGVs), is a safety device that is difficult to “cheat.” The only way to do this would be to turn Thermosafety off if it were not for the fact that such action stops the safeguarded production machine. As a result, dangerous situations on the production line are eliminated to almost zero, despite the creativity of some employees.

5. Always start the machine safely

If the production line is safeguarded by Thermosafety, the service work can be carried out more safely. The system eliminates situations in which an employee is accidentally locked inside a production cell or machine.