It is an easy enough concept to grasp – andon lights, as they are often called now, are also correctly referred to as traffic lights because, in the most popular light colours of green, amber and red they provide the same warning as the traffic light on the road. Safe to proceed, proceed with caution and stop, do not proceed. And here is the thing – you can ignore the lights, but at your own peril.

On the road and in the factory it can have disastrous, even fatal consequences, but there is an important legal distinction between the two cases. The road traffic act enshrines in the statute what you may or may not do on the road, not so in the factory, with regard to the deployment of andon lights to warn of possible hazards.

More a question of common sense.

Whilst the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC urges machine builders to undertake a thorough safety analysis of the systems that monitor and control the operation of their machines. While the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ are well defined in the Directive for many aspects of machine safety, guidelines for the provision of visual and audible warning indicators are more vague; there is ‘guidance’ but little in the way of ‘you must….’. It is more a case of applying ‘good practice and common sense’.

And so common sense ought to prevail in any operation where any degree of man/machine interface can have negative consequences for operator and machine if warnings lights are ignored.

Be seen and be heard with andon lights

Today a manufacturer of andon lights and intelligent systems like WERMA offer an extremely wide range of optical and audible solutions to cover virtually any conceivable safety/warning situation.

Great advances in LED technology mean that today highly visible light signals can be seen over greater distances and even in murky conditions thus ensuring that the hazard warning can be seen. And be heard too, with a wide array of sounder options often with volume adjustment so that the operator may adjust the sound output to suit the conditions of his working environment.

In one novel application a manufacturer of off highway equipment up In the North East of the UK wanted a warning system installed in the welding bays to alert operators to an important change in the status of the equipment. Using the psychology of unique ring tones on mobiles to make sure you hear your ‘phone when it rings, he was able to install sounder devices from WERMA with pre-recorded Disney “looney tunes” unique to each operator so he would immediately hear “his” song and realise his machine was in trouble.

Now that makes common sense!


Tel: 01536 486930



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