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.

Warning and monitoring of traffic in hazardous areas

THERMOSAFETY LITE is a camera system designed to detect people as well as forklifts. It is a solution whose main application is  monitoring intersections with limited visibility, where pedestrians and forklifts often cross their paths.

The device consists of a stereovision camera and an AI system that analyzes the observed image and 3D space. When a human is detected, the device displays selected warning signals.

The device offers a unique networking capability, improving the range and accuracy of human detection – the functionality of the device can be expanded by connecting it to the THERMOSAFETY HUB.

Examples of TS LITE applications

CROSSINGS AND INTERSECTIONS "AROUND THE BEND"

Carts and other industrial vehicles pose the greatest danger when they appear suddenly. THERMOSAFETY LITE will monitor hidden areas and send warnings when a vehicle and worker are in the path of a collision.

SMALL COMMON AREAS

THERMOSAFETY LITE can monitor areas where forklifts and pedestrians often move in the same area. A warning signal that lights up when pedestrians and forklifts are in the same area can prevent unpleasant situations.

WYJŚCIA NA ŚCIEŻKĘ

Exits from the corridors directly onto the path are troublesome to secure. With THERMOSAFETY LITE, we can inform the approaching cart already in the corridor. Likewise, we will warn the cart driver of an approaching employee before the employee opens the door!

The THERMOSAFETY HUB allows for the construction of a network of THERMOSAFETY LITE devices. The High-Performance Server supports up to 8 stereovision cameras and is equipped with a PLC to control the devices.

High performance allows you to expand functionality! Using the power of the THERMOSAFETY HUB server allows you to combine observed areas, delineate warning zones, and history and analyze events. All with increased precision and detection performance.

Examples of TS HUB applications

LARGE UNLOADING ZONES

Large plazas with increased cart traffic are areas where drivers should be extra careful. Such areas can be monitored using several THERMOSAFETY LITE devices and when people are detected, drivers can be informed of their presence.

COMPLEX INTERSECTIONS

Using THERMOSAFETY HUB with several THERMOSAFETY LITE cameras, we can monitor several, different sections of the same intersection. Recognition of approaching people or oncoming carts will allow effective traffic management at this location.

CLOSED PRODUCTION AREAS

Some production areas are protected from the entry of workers. Their presence is allowed only at certain times. By combining THERMOSAFETS LITE, we can observe large production lines and alert people to entry at specific times.

Online system for event analytics

With selected THERMOSAFETY systems you will analyze the detailed history of events!