2013: Controllers for Mechanized Areas Using Magnetic Fields
Manufacturing operations involving large machines, congested materials handling areas and a variety of industrial operations have special safety needs. Pedestrians are required to share the same spaces along with various mobile machines, and may also be working in conjunction with large machines that are not movable. Magnetic fields can be produced that interact with the mobile machines and with pedestrians so as to prevent them from being in the same space at the same moment. Also, the safety systems and/or the mobile vehicles can be commanded or directed to modify or limit their functions in order to reduce the chance of an unsafe condition.
An invention called the “Mechanized Area Controller” makes these real-time facility and equipment adaptions a reality. See Frederick Patent Application Publication # 2014191869. Patents have been issued or are pending in other countries.
By utilizing magnetic fields, designated areas can be precisely defined in which equipment, safety systems, and personnel interact differently than they would otherwise operate. More than one of these controlled areas may exist within a facility so that the way equipment and safety systems function is automatically adjusted to be optimized for each area. For example, fork trucks or clamp trucks may be forced to move slower or their proximity ranges may be limited or both. In some cases pedestrian warnings can be automatically muted.
By use of warning devices, personnel also adjust their actions to respond to changing conditions. For example, a light or sounder can alert pedestrians that a fork truck is approaching the area in which they are working. And/or warnings can be given to operators of vehicles that pedestrians are present in an area that they are entering. Or, if there is a protected work area that is adjacent to vehicles that are actively moving, the Personal Alarm Devices being carried by the pedestrians in the protected area will not receive warnings nor will the operators of the vehicles.