Smart Box Detection for Safe, Continuous Material Flow

28th December 2023

Logistics BusinessSmart Box Detection for Safe, Continuous Material Flow

SICK has launched an industry-first safety light curtain system for Smart Box Detection, designed to enable the continuous safe material flow of cartons or cuboid goods at the entry or exit points of protected areas, while safeguarding people from dangerous materials-handling, conveying or packaging machinery.

The SICK Smart Box Detection system is a plug-and-play automation solution for the SICK deTec4 Safety Light Curtain. It uses intelligent pattern recognition to detect cuboid objects and even some cylindrical goods that produce a cuboid-shaped silhouette and differentiate them from people. Unnecessary stoppages are therefore avoided, for example close to loading and unloading machinery in intralogistics facilities. The protected area above the material remains safeguarded by the light curtain at all times.

No Muting Sensors or Tunnels

The SICK deTec4 Smart Box Detection is the first safety system of its kind to facilitate safe material flow without having to receive signals from an external machine controller. It removes the need to use muting sensors, which take up space, require maintenance and can be easily knocked or damaged.

The Smart Box Detection system can also replace the tunnel guards that are frequently used to provide protection at the openings of machines. As a result, the maximum distance to the hazard can be reduced by more than half.

It is quick and easy to configure using dip switches integrated into the SP2 system plug, so there is no requirement to use a laptop or software. There’s also no need for any additional teach-in, programming, mounting or wiring. Each system can be configured to meet the needs of the application, and if objects of different heights and lengths are being detected, for example on a conveyor, there is no need to teach them in or to adjust the configuration of the safety solution.

Productivity Gains

Martin Kidman, SICK UK’s Market Product Manager for Safety Solutions, commented: “Installing a SICK Smart Box Detection system can improve productivity significantly, which will be welcomed both by machine builders and end users in a wide range of industrial and logistics facilities e.g. in goods inward areas where top- and sideloaders are in operation.

“There are also both cost- and space-saving benefits from installing Smart Box Detection. Machine designers can build new machinery in a smaller footprint, while production teams can remove tunnels, or eliminate the need to keep an inventory of muting sensors, for example.

“Using SICK’s innovative deTec4 safety light curtain means boxes can also be measured, if needed, without additional sensors by transmitting beam data over IO-Link. The user could then combine with speed data to calculate volume. Diagnostic information accessed via either Near Field Communications or IO-Link makes it easier for operators to investigate machine stoppages in real time, as well as making informed service decisions for predictive machine maintenance.”

The SICK deTec4 Prime offers protective field heights in increments from 300mm to 2100mm and a choice of finger (14mm) or hand (30mm) resolution providing protection against operator intervention in accordance with ISO 13855 in applications covering up to 21 metres. It is a Type 4 device (IEC 61496), enabling compliance in applications with requirements up to PLe (ISO 13849) and SIL 3 (IEC 62061).