SICK UK launches ‘first safety-certified outdoor laser scanner’

SICK UK has launched its outdoorScan3, the first laser scanner in the world to, it says, be safety-certified for use outdoors.

The outdoorScan3 Safety Laser Scanner safely and reliably monitors hazardous areas around machines and industrial vehicles outdoors with a high level of availability, according to the company. It answers the need for a high-performance safety scanner certified for outdoor use in industrial automation and intralogistics environments, as well as for integration into autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles used in sectors such as airports, agriculture, and mining, SICK UK says.

The outdoorScan3 can be used in safety applications requiring certification to PLd (EN ISO 13849)/SIL2 (EN 62061) and is additionally a class D device, according to IEC TS 62998, the new technical specification governing outdoor use.

“Equipped with SICK’s safeHDDM™ time-of flight infra-red scanning technology, already used in SICK’s microScan3 family, the SICK outdoorScan3 uses intelligent algorithms to filter out the influences of bright sunlight, rain, snow and fog,” the company said. “With the outdoorScan3 onboard, automated guided vehicles (AGVs) can be certified for travel between indoor and outdoor industrial environments and thereby enable the continuous workflow of materials between production halls or warehouses.”

Dr Martin Kidman, SICK’s UK Product Manager for Machinery Safety, says: “The outdoorScan3 ably masters a delicate balance between performance and resilience to outdoor influences. It has the sensitivity needed to detect people or objects in its monitoring area reliably. At the same time, it is more resilient to the pitfalls of frequent error stops as a result of harsh weather, dirt or dusty environments.

“Until, now there has been no opportunity for outdoor applications to be safety-certified. IEC TS 62998 provides a new technical specification for compliant devices, and the outdoorScan3 is the first to meet the requirements for a Class D device.”

With a wide scanning angle of 275° and a protective field range of 4 m, the outdoorScan3 achieves a total safe scanning area of 38.4 m² with a minimum response time of 90 m, the company said. The outdoorScan3 can monitor up to 128 individual and freely-definable protective fields, and up to eight fields simultaneously, giving it ability to respond dynamically to the changing environment around it, SICK UK said.

The scanner offers options for integration using SICK’s Flexi Soft safety controller and SICK Flexi Soft EFI-pro gateway. Up to six outdoorScan3 devices can be networked into a safety system, with the option to integrate safety encoders for safe motion control. “Configuration and field set up is easy using SICK’s intuitive SafetyDesigner™ software tool,” the company said.

Resilient to ambient light with an intensity of up to 40,000 lux, the outdoorScan3’s intelligent software algorithms filter out the influences of snow (light to moderate) and rain to a precipitation intensity of 10 mm/h (moderate rain). Safety is ensured in foggy conditions by the fogSight function, which detects when meteorological visual range values eclipse 50 m and turns off the safe outputs. The outdoorScan3 can be used in temperatures from -25°C to +50°C.

The new safe contour detection fields provide additional versatility for mobile vehicle applications, such as safe AGV docking and protecting workers at narrow access points, SICK UK says.

“With a ‘non-safe’ warning field range of 40 m, the outdoorScan3 also can also output raw measurement data via Ethernet for navigation purposes, so safety and navigation duties can be achieved with a single device, without the need to use a separate scanner for navigation,” the company said.

SICK UK concluded: “It is likely new applications for the outdoorScan3 will be developed as users explore the potential of a new technology to operate in outdoor environments To support its customers, SICK has opened an outdoor development and testing centre at its headquarters in Waldkirch, southern Germany, to explore and develop best practice in outdoor safety sensing and systems.”