Safety Guarding 101

Innovations in Machine Guarding Technology


Jason Kerkhof

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October 18, 2023

In the world of industrial manufacturing and automation, ensuring the safety of workers is of paramount importance. Machine guarding has traditionally been a crucial aspect of maintaining a safe work environment, but recent technological advancements have revolutionized the way we approach this vital aspect of workplace safety. This blog delves into the exciting innovations in machine guarding technology, including smart sensors, automation, remote monitoring, physical guards, and explores how these advancements contribute to significantly improved safety standards.


Smart Sensors: The Eyes and Ears of Machine Guarding

Smart sensors have emerged as a game-changer in the realm of machine guarding. These sophisticated devices are capable of detecting a range of conditions, such as motion, vibration, temperature, and even the presence of a human operator in proximity to a machine. When integrated with machine guarding systems, smart sensors can instantly detect potential hazards and trigger immediate responses to prevent accidents.

a.      Motion Detection: Smart sensors equipped with motion detection capabilities can identify unexpected movement in machinery. If a machine's moving parts behave erratically, the sensor can automatically halt the machine's operation to prevent accidents.

b.      Proximity Sensors: By using infrared or ultrasonic technology, proximity sensors can detect the presence of a human operator or any object within a defined safety zone around the machine. If a person enters the danger zone, the machine can be automatically shut down or slowed down to prevent collisions or accidents.


Automation: Reducing Human Interaction with Hazardous Areas

Automation has long been associated with increased efficiency, but it's also a key player in enhancing safety. By reducing the need for human operators to be physically present in hazardous areas, automation minimizes the risk of injuries caused by direct contact with machines or their moving parts.

a.      Robotic Systems: Robotic systems equipped with advanced machine guarding features can take over tasks that previously required human intervention. This reduces the likelihood of accidents caused by human error and enables workers to oversee operations from a safer distance.

b.      Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs): AGVs are mobile robots that can transport materials and products throughout a manufacturing facility. By using sensors and navigation technology, AGVs can navigate around obstacles and humans, reducing the risk of collisions and injuries.


Ladder Guards

Remote Monitoring: Real-Time Insights for Enhanced Safety

Remote monitoring technology is transforming the way companies approach machine guarding. Through the use of IoT (Internet of Things) devices and cloud-based platforms, supervisors and safety personnel can access real-time data about machine conditions, performance, and potential hazards from virtually anywhere.

a.      Cloud-Based Analytics: By collecting and analyzing data from sensors placed on machines, cloud-based analytics platforms can provide insights into machine behavior. This allows companies to proactively identify issues that could lead to safety concerns and take corrective actions before accidents occur.

b.      Alert Systems: Remote monitoring systems can send instant alerts to supervisors or safety personnel when a machine encounters a problem or exceeds predefined safety thresholds. This enables swift responses and reduces downtime.


Physical Guards: The Last Line of Defense

While physical guards are nothing new, they are still the last line of defense when it comes to rotating hazards. For a product that is so simple, there are some newer considerations when designing and implementing machine guards.

a.      Smart Wedge Clamps: The new patented smart wedge clamps from Belt Conveyor Guarding offer a simple solution for attaching guards. Making it easier to remove and replace for routine maintenance. Also, the cable tie that locks the guard in place is easily visible to safety managers and supervisors when moving around their facilities. When guards are easy to put back, no hazards are left exposed.

b.      Ergonomic Design: To avoid injuries caused by moving heavy guards, design yours to be in lightweight panels that are less than 50 lbs. This ensures a single person can move them without straining or hurting their back.


Innovations in machine guarding technology are changing the landscape of workplace safety. Smart sensors, automation, and remote monitoring are collectively elevating safety standards by providing real-time insights, reducing human interaction with hazardous areas, and enhancing overall operational efficiency. As these technologies continue to evolve, industries that rely on heavy machinery and automation will benefit from reduced accidents, improved worker well-being, and increased productivity. Embracing these advancements ensures that the future of machine guarding is not only safer but also more efficient and sustainable.