AOPDs were invented in 1998. Laser AOPDs primarily were used in the European Union. In 2003
laser AOPDs started coming into use in the U.S. as
a retrofit for existing press brakes. Laser AOPD has
since become a standard system for many press
brakes, both on imported machines and those manufactured locally. Inclusion of laser AOPD technology in the B11.3 standard is a welcome addition. It
gives dealers and users a clear guideline to implement this technology safely. (More specifically, B11.3
subclause 8. 8. 7, “Close Proximity Point of Operation
AOPD Safeguarding Device” addresses this subject.)
The biggest advantage of an AOPD is that operators can handle pieces up close to the dies while using a footswitch to activate the machine cycle. This is
almost impossible to accomplish safely while using
a light curtain. Another advantage is for larger piece
parts with tall side legs, which are difficult to form on
a press brake with vertically mounted light curtains.
Those familiar with using light curtains on press
brakes know that these two situations often require
extensive channel blanking, which does allow production of those parts, but often lets the operator’s
hands and fingers reach too close to the dies.
Light Curtains or AOPD?
Laser AOPDs protect the point of hazard. Light curtain systems restrict operator access to the point of
hazard (see Figure 5). The AOPD’s design lets operators hold piece parts up close to the dies, while
using a footswitch to actuate the machine cycle.
This is virtually impossible to accomplish safely using a light curtain, but that doesn’t make AOPD perfect for every application.
In some instances, light curtains and AOPD can
be used together, often on the same machine. Light
curtains accommodate die configurations that the
Invented in 1998, laser active optoelectronic protective device (AOPD) systems were primarily used as press brake
safety devices in the European Union. In 2003 they started coming into use in the U.S. as a retrofit option for press
brakes. Since then the AOPD system has become the standard safety system for many new press brakes manufactured in and imported to the U.S.
Golden Rules of
Press Brake Operation
1.;Keep work area clean, orderly,
and free of oil, grease, and scrap.
2.;Use work supports, mechanical
assists, or helpers when loading and
unloading parts or heavy sheets.
3.;Wear personal protective equipment,
such as gloves and goggles. Never
wear loose clothing, wristwatch, and
rings when operating machinery to
avoid being dragged into the danger
4. Never leave the machine running
5.;Keep hands away from all moving
items, such as the ram. Avoid trip
hazards with the footswitch and
6. Always lock out/tag out before doing
maintenance, no matter how small.
7.;Never use damaged dies.
8.;Never attempt to tamper with wiring
or bypass the safety control.
When finished, position the ram at
the bottom of the stroke, lock out,
and tag out.
An operator is allowed to get closer to the work area
when laser AOPD is being used to safeguard the press
AOPD can’t, such as compound bends. Using both
methods ensures that safeguarding is provided for
all die setups.
For die setups in which neither light curtains nor
AOPDs can offer effective safeguarding but the part
can be fixtured in place and does not require hand
support, a two-hand control can be used. Even basic press brake protection systems still have their
place in today’s modern world.
Don’t Forget the Training
Training should be completed before any employee
or operator is allowed to work near the press brake,
and the employer should maintain accurate records
of all training. Employees should also be encouraged to report press brake hazards and to make
suggestions related to safety. Refresher training
should be conducted as needed.
It is also good practice to develop and enforce
a written safety program, one that incorporates
guidelines for operating all machinery and performing tasks. Employees should be given a copy
and provided training that emphasizes safe operating procedures, limitations of equipment, use of
guards, and hazard recognition and control. Employers should monitor employee compliance with
Mike Spain is director of national accounts, Rockford
Systems Inc., 815-874-7891, www.rockfordsystems.com.