With Fortress Interlocks it’s always safety first

Wolverhampton-based Fortress Interlocks has a simple mission: to help businesses protect their human and capital assets.

The company has been doing this for over 40 years by designing and manufacturing machinery access and control systems for industrial applications. These range from power generation, steelmaking and automotive manufacturing to food and beverage processing, materials recycling and construction. This means the company has become very well known in the industry for innovative design, robust engineering and reliability.

Human error is always a possibility when operating dangerous machinery and it is the employer’s responsibility to guarantee the safety of its workers by installing adequate safety systems are in place.

One way to ensure worker safety is machine guarding. However, machine guarding alone isn’t enough to ensure safe working practices, as there is nothing to prevent workers from using designated access points to gain entry into live machinery. It is usually necessary to include safety interlocking into the process

Safety interlocks – like those manufactured by Fortress Interlocks – prevent access to powered machinery and stop inadvertent start-ups while personnel are inside a dangerous area. They do this by forcing operators to isolate the power before anyone gains access. Maximum protection is afforded by incorporating keys into an interlocking system – this forces workers to retain a personal safety key with them while working inside the machine, so power can only be restarted once all the keys have been returned to their original positions.

This ensures all activities are undertaken in a safe, predetermined sequence, creating a safer workplace where employees are safeguarded from injury and equipment is protected from damage.

A unique feature of Fortress’s products is that they are modular, which means they can be adapted to just about any safeguarding scenario in just about any industrial environment. If one of its existing products can’t solve a problem, the company’s extensive experience and know-how allows Fortress to provide bespoke products.

Most interlocks are either not electrically connected (deliberately so in the case of some mechanical, trapped key interlocks) or are ‘wired at gate’, meaning all electrical connections go via a control PLC and safety relay. This can mean up to 20 wires from each device going to the control panel. To overcome this scenario, Fortress has developed a number of products that are now compatible with industrial networking systems such as AS-i and PROFIsafe.

“Making our products compatible with industrial safety networks is an essential requirement for our customers,” comments Fortress’ Sales Director Tony Baggott. “It ensures we not only meet, but exceed, what people expect from us when it comes to industrial networking.”

Fortress is a member of the Machine Safety Alliance, a non-profit organisation that aims to share its collective knowledge and expertise and help companies understand and comply with safety regulations while balancing productivity.

With offices in the USA, the Netherlands, Australia, China and Brazil and a global network of trusted distributors and channel partners, Fortress is a local company with a truly global reach.

The company is a subsidiary of Halma plc, an international group of companies that make products for hazard detection, life protection, personal and public health improvement and environmental protection. Halma has nearly 50 businesses in 23 countries and major operations in Europe, the USA and Asia. It is a FTSE 250 company quoted on the London Stock Exchange.

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