A new approach from Pilz Automation Safety, Canton, Mich., replaces those relatively expensive protection methods with a three-camera ceiling-mounted sensor hooked to a computer.

The three gray-scale cameras keep watch on various zones established by the user and maintained in the computer. The system, dubbed SafetyEYE, lets factory managers establish three separate, 3D zones. In the detection zone, the system detects and reports the presence of any object over a user-defined size. If the object, or person, gets closer to the equipment, it enters the warning zone and equipment can be slowed down while audible and visible alarms are activated. If it gets even closer and enters the protection zone, the equipment is shut down.