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Machine Control

What is North Time Pro machine control?

The concept behind the machine control module is simple: to ensure that only correctly qualified employees with valid PPE are able to activate maintained machines during a valid work pattern.  In other words ensuring that non-qualified, no equipped staff cannot operate expensive and potentially lethal equipment without management authorisation.

A number of existing North Time Pro elements where used in the design of this solution, including personnel training records and asset management.  The interface between the employee and the machine comes in two parts: the machine control reader and the machine controller unit.  The machine control unit connects to the electronics of your machine, a task which is completed by the machine manufacturer or supplier.  The machine control reader is usually mounted on the machine and contains both biometric and proximity readers and a PIN keypad.  An LCD display provides the machine status and highlights any step failures (outlined in the following pages).

Once installed the machine control module provides North Time Pro with new factory floor information about who is using which machine and for how long.  An additional benefit is the monitoring of machine errors that can also be linked into the ‘machine controller inputs’ to provide accurate downtime information in real-time.

North Time Pro machine control – 6 steps

Step 1: Identifying the employee...

The first step in enabling the machine is for the employee to prove who they are. The client can decide how this is done. Biometric, proximity and PIN number methods in any combination are available.

A machine control reader is used to identify the employee.  The reader uses the same biometric technology as North Time Pro access and attendance terminals meaning that the employee’s finger template is compatible with existing equipment.  When using proximity technology, the prox’ card is dropped into a slot in the top of the machine control reader and remains there until the end of the work period.

The LCD display on the reader provides the employee with visual feedback as the six validations steps are completed.

Only when the employee has proved who they are does the machine control process move to step two.

Step 1

Step 2: Should the employee be working now?...

The second step in enabling the machine is to check if the employee should be in work at this time. The machine control software can be programmed to validate if the employee is supposed to be working at a certain time on a certain day. Stopping qualified employees working on expensive and dangerous machinery outside of their allocated worked patterns maybe a useful feature for a management team which requires greater control on the factory-floor.

If ‘now’ is confirmed as a valid work time, the machine control process will move to step three.

Step 3: Does the employee have the correct training to operate the machine?...

The third step in enabling the machine is to check if the employee has the relevant valid training qualifications. Each machine is defined within North Time Pro and that definition includes a required training qualification list. Training is controlled through the North Time Pro personnel module.

Once the employees’ training records are confirmed, the process moves to step four.

PUWER states that the company must ensure that all people who use, supervise or manage the use of work equipment have received adequate training, which should include the correct use of the equipment, the risks that may arise from its use and the precautions to take.

Step 4: Has the employee been issued with the correct personal protection equipment to operate the machine?...

The fourth step in enabling the machine is for the process to confirm if the employee has been allocated with the correct PPE and that the PPE is valid and has not expired. Each machine is defined within North Time Pro and that definition includes a required list of PPE. PPE is configured within the North Time Pro asset control module.

Once valid personal protection equipment has been confirmed, the machine control process moves to step five.

PUWER states that the company must ensure that all people using, supervising or managing the use of work equipment are provided with adequate, clear health and safety information.

Step 5: Has the machine been properly maintained?...

The fifth step in enabling the machine is for the process to confirm that the machine has been maintained correctly according to pre-determined service intervals.  The service intervals are defined within the asset management module as PUWER requires that all work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient order and in good repair.  As mentioned earlier in this document, the asset management module provides the ability to log all maintenance records.

Step 6: If all conditions are met, the machine can start...

The sixth step once all of the conditions are met, the machine control unit will enable the machine to start. The date, time and employee details are stored by North Time Pro each time the machine is started or stopped.  This information is available to North Time Pro in real-time and can be used in the ‘to-do’ list or dashboard area.

Remember that the rules governing whether the machine starts are define by the customer. This process can be unique and can involve more or less stage as define in this article.