Status Indication

Discover the essentials of effective status indication. From its importance in safety to compliance standards and installation considerations - find out about the main aspects you need to consider to choose the right signaling device for your application.

What is a reliable status indication good for?

A reliable status indication of machines is crucial for several important purposes such as:

  • Safety
  • Early issue detection
  • Preventive maintenance
  • Operational efficiency
  • Reduced downtime
  • User guidance
  • Compliance
  • Accurate reporting

It provides operators and users with essential information about the machine's condition, allowing for timely action to prevent accidents, improve performance, and ensure the smooth operation of equipment. So it is important that the machine status is clearly displayed and can easily be recognized visually even from a distance. To ensure this, the signaling device used needs to be selected with care.

What are the normative requirements?

There are several standards that play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of machinery. By providing guidelines for designing effective status indication systems they help operators and users understand the operational state of the equipment.

The most important European standards relevant to status indication in machinery include the following:

EN 60204-1:2018 - This standard primarily focuses on the electrical equipment of machines. While it covers control systems and indication systems, its main emphasis is on ensuring the safety of machinery through electrical components and systems.

EN 61310-1:2016 - This standard specifically deals with the indication, marking, and actuation aspects of machinery safety. It provides requirements for visual, auditory, and tactile signals used to indicate the status or condition of machinery to operators or users.

EN ISO 12100:2010 - Although not solely centred on status indication, this standard lays out general principles for machinery design with a focus on risk assessment and risk reduction. It includes considerations for status indication as part of the broader process of ensuring machinery safety.

Status indication is about informing and warning

The design of status indication for machines mainly focuses on informing and warning rather than alarming.

The purpose of informing signals is to provide general information or updates without an immediate need for action. They are used to convey routine information or status updates.
Informing signals are typically non-urgent, providing clarity or awareness without causing alarm.
Example: A green light at an injection molding machine informs a machine operator that everything runs properly.

Warning signals, on the other hand, are used to alert individuals of potential hazards or dangers. They indicate a need for caution and preparedness. Warning signals are more urgent than informing signals but are not as immediate as alarming signals. They give people time to react and make informed decisions.
Example: A yellow blinking light on a control panel could indicate a warning about a non-critical issue, such as a low level of a fluid that needs monitoring.

Installing a signaling device on a machine - What needs to be considered?

The specific requirements for mounting a signaling device on a machine to display its status relialbly can vary depending on factors such as the type of machine, its environment, safety regulations, and industry standards. However, the following general considerations are often important:

1. Visibility and Accessibility: The signaling device should be mounted in a location where it is easily visible to operators and other personnel who need to monitor the machine's status. It should also be accessible for maintenance purposes.

2. Durability: The mounting method should be sturdy and able to withstand the vibrations, impacts, and environmental conditions present in the machine's operating environment. This may involve using durable materials and secure fastening methods.

3. Clear indication: The signaling device should provide clear and unambiguous indication of the machine's status. This could include using bright colors, flashing lights, or audible alarms, depending on the specific requirements of the application

4. Safety: Consideration should be given to safety requirements, such as ensuring that the signaling device does not create any hazards for operators or interfere with the safe operation of the machine.

5. Compliance: Depending on the industry and location, there may be regulatory requirements or industry standards that dictate how signaling devices should be mounted and operated. It's important to ensure compliance with these requirements.

6. Integration: If the signaling device is part of a larger monitoring or control system, it should be integrated into the overall system in a way that allows for seamless communication and coordination with other components.

7. Maintenance: The mounting method should allow for easy maintenance and replacement of the signaling device as needed. This might involve providing access for wiring, bulb replacement, or other routine maintenance tasks.

Overall, the specific requirements for mounting a signaling device on a machine will depend on the unique circumstances of the application, but these general considerations should help guide the process.

What signaling options and signaling modes are available and suitable?

When selecting the right signaling device, you should determine in advance which machine statuses are to be signaled.

  1. Do you only want to show that a machine is working properly and a malfunction?
  2. Or do you want to signal more than two situations and visually indicate with a certain colour if e.g. a machine is running properly, a due maintenance, a required action, or a machine breakdown?
  3. Are there any spatial obstacles such as walls or pillars that need to be overcome?
  4. Do you have sensitive applications that need to be monitored? 

For the indication of status you have lots of options – either you decide for a single visual or for a combined visual/audible one. The advantage of the combined signaling device is obvious - information is perceived via two senses and is therefore most likely to be recognised more quickly.

The numerous options of signaling:

Different signaling modes – There are usually three different signaling modes available. The "continuous steady on light" stands for a permanent warning or indication.

A "blinking light" is highly efficient for permanent warning and the "flashing light" assures higher perceptibility in alarm conditions.

Different colours – Visual signaling devices are usually available in different colours that stand for a certain status. You can either choose between devices that only display one colour or that show different colours, such as RGB devices that can switch between colours or signal towers that contain different coloured modules.

LED or Xenon lights – Neither technology is fundamentally better than the other. However, depending on the application one option will generally be more suitable. The application must therefore always be considered when choosing between the technologies. LEDs are flexible and have a long lifespan, Xenon-Technology on the other hand has a high alerting effect (perceptibility) and homogeneous distribution of light propagation.

Function-monitored signaling – Function-monitored signaling devices ensure more safety in sensitive applications. External controls can monitor the proper function of a signaling device. 

Combined visual/audible signaling – A combined device consists of a visual signal, which is supported by a sounder. It offers a higher perceptibility and guarantees a reliable signaling for any application.