How to increase the safety of slitter machines?

Many soft paper packaging manufacturing companies use slitter machines. At the same time, a priority of these companies, implemented through the maintenance and continuous improvement of the internal OHS Management System, is the protection of workers' lives and health. Despite the use of various safeguards, ensuring a high degree of protection for people working in the vicinity of slitter machines is difficult, but not impossible.

What is a slitter machine?

Slitter machines are machines that cut ribbons of paper or film into narrower ribbons according to the specifications of a particular finished product. The machine has a set of rollers that wind the cut ribbons onto cores, creating what is known as slitters. A characteristic feature of slitter machines is primarily the high speed of the winding and cutting elements.

Job description – hazard identification

Machine placement in the production hall and small maneuvering spaces between machines expose employees to contact with dangerous elements. Unfortunately, this can lead to accidents. Moreover, one of the main hazards identified within the workstations of the production hall is the drawing or entrapment of a person by the rotating elements of the slitting machine. In addition, the need to control the entire production process at workstations requires employees to operate in the vicinity of dangerous zones where the contact with rotating rollers may occur.

It also happens that the rotating rollers may not be properly safeguarded. The lack of a special cover or its improper installation and positioning makes it loose its protective function. As a result, access to the machine’s rotating parts is open, which may lead to accidents. The slitting machine, being a machine that is difficult to safeguard, can be a threat to people working in its vicinity despite the application of good OHS practices.

In direct contact with a slitting machine, an employee may not only be injured, but also die

In order to increase the level of safety, it is extremely important to use appropriate preventive measures. If the covers used on machines are unreliable and their effectiveness depends on human actions and decisions, how can the employees operating these machines be allowed to work safely?

One of the solutions is the installation and use of the Thermosafety safety system

Its most important feature, which also makes it impossible to cheat, is the lack of possibility to interfere with its operation in the designated area (a zone defined as dangerous). As a consequence, the human factor is kept to a minimum.

Thermosafety safety system constantly monitors whether there is a person in the working area of the machine/station. Thanks to modality fusion, it easily classifies objects as human/not human. The system allows defining different workspaces where it can:

  • activate warning systems/alarms,
  • slow down the machine
  • or stop the machine/station completely.

Thermosafety allows defining up to 3 danger zones. Any of the above reactions can be set for each of them to signal that a human entered the zone.

Exemplary application with a slitting machine

When an employee crosses the line of zone 1, the system reduces the rotation speed of the slitting machine’s rollers. When an employee is in zone 2, at a distance of less than 50 cm from the machine, the system completely turns off the machine.

It is worth emphasizing that defining danger zones at a given workstation can reduce the number of unnecessary stops and restarts of machines, and operator interventions. This will contribute to increasing the efficiency of production on a given manufacturing line.

Additional functions of Thermosafety

Thermosafety safety system prevents the machine/workstation from operating if there is a person in the danger zone. This eliminates the risk of an accident when one worker starts a machine while another is in the danger zone. This situation most often occurs during machine service: when one of the employees completes the service work and the other resets the alarm. Fortunately, Thermosafety can prevent accidents even in this case.

In addition, the system offers the possibility of recording events – both in the form of logs and in the form of video material. Thanks to this, in the event of a dangerous situation, the reasons for its occurrence can be easily explained.

If you want to know more, feel free to contact us.