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Safety Controller Design Using SIMON+ Software

SIMON+, an intuitive graphical configuration software tool

SIMON+, an intuitive graphical configuration software tool
SIMON+, an intuitive graphical configuration software tool

Pepperl+Fuchs offers powerful safety controllers according to the Safety at Work standard.  Initially, the Safety at Work concept was exclusively based on allowing safety devices such as e-stops, light curtains, door interlock switches, and similar hardware to safely communicate over a standard AS-Interface network.  This is still the most flexible and least expensive way to establish medium to large safety applications. 

VAS-2A8L-KE4-8SE stand-alone safety controller

VAS-2A8L-KE4-8SE safety controller
VAS-2A8L-KE4-8SE safety controller

Now, Pepperl+Fuchs offers a safety controller that extends Safety at Work to the smallest safety installations, those cost-critical applications that are historically solved using a few conventional safety relays and a small number of safe inputs.  The new VAS-2A8L-KE4-8SE is a stand-alone safety controller offering four redundant input channels (i.e., two inputs with test signals per input channel) and two electronic safe outputs.  

While this new safety controller is designed for small stand-alone applications, it still benefits from Pepperl+Fuchs’ safety device offering following the Safety at Work standard:

  • Just like the safety controllers connected to medium and large safety installations using AS-Interface, this new stand-alone safety controller is configured using the powerful, highly graphical SIMON+ software (VAZ-SW-SIMON+).  This enables machine builders, integrators, and users to select the most appropriate hardware for the job without having to retrain on different software packages.  Safety at Work is now a comprehensive safety solution platform for any size installation.
  • SIMON+ software is not only used to develop safety logic, it also acts as an intuitive diagnostics and monitoring tool.  After defining the safety logic, machine builders and users will use SIMON+ to evaluate if all desired safety operations are taking place as intended.  This is especially useful when complex safety solutions, perhaps involving multiple independent safe zones, are needed.  After downloading the safety logic into the safety controller—here it is automatically backed up on a removable memory card—and ensuring that the safety system is in full operation, SIMON+ is the ideal way to monitor safe inputs, allowing maintenance personal to quickly find a failed e-stop or welded magnetic door switch.
  • Safety engineers developing safety logic for the Pepperl+Fuchs safety controller benefit from the documentation automatically generated by SIMON+.  A plain text file containing important information about the hardware and safety logic is automatically generated.  SIMON+ also allows the configuration to be printed in its graphical form as well as in plain text format.  These features make it possible to add the safety configuration and hardware information to the machine documentation without having to reenter or redraw anything; a huge timesaver.
  • A unique feature of the VAS-2A8L-KE4-8SE is its integrated expansion port.  This port allows additional safety devices to be added, and therefore gives the safety controller the ability to be used in applications where four safe inputs and/or two safe outputs are not sufficient.  In contrast to all competing solutions where expansion is limited to adding modules directly on the controller, our technology allows those modules to be distributed in the field.  Instead of routing a large number of cables from the field back to the safety controller, the Pepperl+Fuchs solution reduces the wiring effort and associated cost.
  • Customers seeing a benefit in having safety diagnostics data in the PLC can add an optional gateway to the safety controller expansion port.  This will allow retrieving information concerning the state of e-stops (depressed or released), light curtains (clear or interrupted), door switches (open or closed), and much more, and processing it in the PLC for annunciation, for instance on an HMI.
  • Those customers not interested in any kind of interaction between the stand-alone safety controller and their PLC can still take advantage of annunciation directly out of the safety controller.  Standard (i.e., non-safe) messaging outputs on the safety controller and output devices (relay outputs, electronic outputs, stack lights, horns, and more) connected to the expansion port can be controlled through the safety logic.  For instance, using a green LED on a stack light to indicate that a protective door is closed and locked is set up with a simple drag & drop operation on SIMON+.

With the introduction of the VAS-2A8L-KE4-8SE safety controller, Pepperl+Fuchs significantly expands the usability of Safety at Work such that every application, from small to large, can be solved using just one software tool.  All expandability features of this stand-alone controller are supported through SIMON+ making simple as well as complex safety scenarios possible and convenient.