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Safety Ethernet in the German machinery industry

Safety Ethernet 2010 to 2015: Reality and planning, pros and cons

Safety Ethernet in the course of five years from 2010 to 2015 - this approach connects reality of Safety Ethernet’s use in the years 2010 and 2012 with the future planning of the machine-builders up to the year 2015. And it leads also to the point where the shoe pinches.

Reality and planning form a perfect relationship

Two market surveys by Quest TechnoMarketing at the end of 2010 and of 2012 with over 150 resp. over 200 machine-builders came to this result:


15% of the investigated machine-builders used Safety Ethernet at the machines in 2010. Further 14% had the intention to implement Safety Ethernet until 2012. So use and intention totaled to 29% until 2012.

Safety Ethernet in the German machinery industry to 2015.
Source: Market survey by Quest TechnoMarketing "Ethernet and Safety Ethernet until 2015 in the German mechanical engineering industry".

Two years later it confirmed: The planning of the machine-builders had been transformed to a considerable degree into reality. The planning size of the machine-builders in 2010 for the use of Safety Ethernet in 2012 was 29%. And really 33% of the machine-builders used Safety Ethernet in 2012.


The small difference between 29% and 33% goes obviously back on machine-builders who were in 2010 still uncertain over the future use.


Until 2015 according to planning there will be 71% of the machine-builders using Safety Ethernet at the machines.

Safety Ethernet still in the test stage

The 33% machine-builders use Safety Ethernet however only at 6% of their machines. This situation is characterized by tests, gaining experience, considering,  a situation, in which pros and cons are fighting with each other, a situation that lets Safety Ethernet be used only at selected machines.


What are the issues?

Machine-builders criticize too high prices

  • „Prices are too high; therefore Safety Ethernet will not be used comprehensively but only on request of the customers“. (Machine tools)

  • Price level: When I equip only 3 solutions, it does not pain commercially. However, if I define Safety Ethernet as standard it becomes quite strongly apparent in Euro amounts. One is hoping that the current price level may be related to the introduction phase and that it will become still more favorable by at least around half.“ (Building/glass/ceramic machines)

  • „Much too expensive! Regarding conventional emergency stop solutions it does not make sense to use Safety Ethernet with our machines. It makes sense with large machines with 200 m expansions in the automobile industry, but our machines are so small that one can carry them around by a control car; for those cases it is too expensive. So we use it only on customer request. The demand of the customer is probably because of standardization.“ (Textile machines)

  • „Safety Ethernet might be more favorable than the conventional safety buses and easier. In fact, it is more complex.“ (Packaging machines)

How to use Safety Ethernet technologically suitably?

  • „Regarding Safety Ethernet we are still at the beginning having used it once on customer request. With us the customer is the driving force. On the other hand it also always depends on the plants. Do I have many safety circuits, need I many emergency stop switches, will I use a safety CPU or what? We must be careful with the money, otherwise we deliver beautiful things to the customer and who cannot pay them. If the plant needs much safety engineering we will use Profisafe, otherwise we prefer valve blocks. Then only one corner is reserved for Safety. These are our criteria, even if Siemens is strongly promoting Ethernet and Profisafe.“ (Conveyor)

  • One judges the use of Safety Ethernet still cautiously. Experience and exercise are still missing with Safety Ethernet so it appears as complex and difficult. That becomes particularly apparent under the condition of very short times for start-up. By now two specialists were employed during start-up, one for safety engineering and one for control engineering. But with Safety Ethernet actually two specialists are necessary. With international missions, however, one questions these auxiliary costs. And if one charges the end-user with these extra costs, of course follow-up inquiries will emerge that are in conflict with the advantages that one had stressed in order to promote Safety Ethernet toward the customer.“ (Wood processing machines)


One machine-builder complains the absence of a „generally acknowledged configuration tool for the service“:

  • Safety over Ethernet needs a generally acknowledged configuration tool with the accordingly acknowledged safety-relevant mandatory proceedings. In practice it does not work that each service technician on-site configures the safety circuits by any tool. Before there is not available at least a European standardized solution, we will not get involved with this direction.“ (Rubber/plastics machines)

The crux with the various protocols

  • For machines with options that could affect Safety, a variable hardware project with one software source is needed. One “serial-Safety-software-source” for all serial machines of a certain type!“ (Printing/paper handling machines)

  • „Standardization of the standards!“ (Rubber/plastics machines)

  • If we would use Safety Ethernet, a unified solution might be available, independent from our subcontractors, be they Siemens, Rockwell, ifm or Festo, everything might run via one protocol.“ (Rubber/plastics machines)

  • „The world does not need different real time Ethernet and Safety solutions. One at a time is enough.“ (Textile machines)