DEKRA is committed to promoting innovative occupational safety concepts in the age of Industry 4.0. An innovation partnership with the Fraunhofer Institutes IAO and IPA initiated by DEKRA is currently developing processes to prevent work-related accidents when people and machines work together. An initial exhibit was presented at the recent opening ceremony of the “Future Work Lab” in Stuttgart, attended by Professor Johanna Wanka, German Federal Minister for Education and Research.
“People remain the greatest source of risk in industry, even in automated production,” says DEKRA Management Board member Ivo Rauh, who is responsible for the business unit DEKRA Industrial. “We want to promote new concepts to enable a future where people and machines can work together safely. Digitalization offers groundbreaking opportunities here to lastingly improve the active prevention of accidents.”
The exhibit was developed on DEKRA’s initiative as part of the innovation partnership with Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart. Using a band saw as an example, it shows that a machine can detect in real time how the user is behaving and how far he/she is from the source of danger—in this case the saw blade. In the event of uncontrolled movements or approaches, the machine stops before an accident can occur. To make this possible, a sensor is fitted to the user’s hand.
This principle can be applied to all machines into which people feed workpieces or materials by hand. The aim is for even more complicated machinery in the future to also use people’s actions to recognize whether they are authorized or trained to operate the machine. In an automated manufacturing environment, maintenance workers for example would also be protected if they made mistakes.
The “Future Work Lab” came about as an innovation laboratory for work, people and technology led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO on the research campus in the Vaihingen district of Stuttgart, where Fraunhofer IAO and IPA pool their expertise on Industry 4.0 to allow the future of production work to be experienced in the present.