Safety Breakthrough to Save Abattoir Injuries14 March 2015
There are more than 1,000 bandsaws in use in Australian meat processing, posing danger to the operators every time they are used.
However, a new braking mechanism for bandsaws, BladeStop - developed by Machinery Automation and Robotics (MAR) and the MLA Donor Company (no producer levies invested) with funding from the Australian Meat Processor Corporation - offers huge safety and efficiency gains to the workplace.
BladeStop is a mechanism for bandsaws that, upon sensing contact with the operator’s hand, will stop the blade within 15 milliseconds - the difference between a small skin cut and an amputated finger.
BladeStop can contribute to the smooth flow of production by reducing downtime after incidents and absenteeism due to injury.
It can also reduce costs for workers and processors associated with occupational health and safety.
The technology builds on a similar system developed in the US for the timber industry, called Saw Stop, which senses the difference between wood and a human finger.
The challenge for the meat industry was to develop a unique system that could distinguish between a human finger and an animal carcase and kick in fast enough and stop a saw blade before causing major injury to the operator.
Many different prototypes were tested and multiple plant trials conducted to refine the design of BladeStop.
The final system is only available as part of a new bandsaw purchase to avoid reliability issues with retrofitting the injury minimisation device.
MAR has also developed GloveCheck (patent pending), an add-on sensing system that detects operator gloves moving at high speed in a zone directly upstream from the band saw blade, and triggers the BladeStop mechanism to stop the blade.