Interlock Architectures – Pt. 2: Category 1

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Circuit Architectures Explored

This art­icle expands on the first in the series “Interlock Architectures – Pt. 1: What do those cat­egor­ies really mean?”. Learn about the basic cir­cuit archi­tec­tures that under­lie all safety inter­lock sys­tems under ISO 13849 – 1, and CSA Z432 and ANSI RIA R15.06.

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Circuit Architectures Explored

In Part 1 of this series we explored Category B, the Basic Category that under­pins all the oth­er Categories. This post builds on Part 1 by tak­ing a look at Category 1. Let’s start by explor­ing the dif­fer­ence as defined in ISO 13849 – 1. When you are read­ing, remem­ber that “SRP/​CS” stands for “Safety Related Parts of Control Systems”.

SRP/​CS of Category 1 shall be designed and con­struc­ted using well-​tried com­pon­ents and well-​tried safety prin­ciples (see ISO 13849 – 2).

Well-​Tried Components

So what, exactly, is a “Well-​Tried Component”?? Let’s go back to the stand­ard for that:

A “well-​tried com­pon­ent” for a safety-​related applic­a­tion is a com­pon­ent which has been either

a) widely used in the past with suc­cess­ful res­ults in sim­il­ar applic­a­tions, or
b) made and veri­fied using prin­ciples which demon­strate its suit­ab­il­ity and reli­ab­il­ity for safety-​related applic­a­tions.

Newly developed com­pon­ents and safety prin­ciples may be con­sidered as equi­val­ent to “well-​tried” if they ful­fil the con­di­tions of b).

The decision to accept a par­tic­u­lar com­pon­ent as being “well-​tried” depends on the applic­a­tion.

NOTE 1 Complex elec­tron­ic com­pon­ents (e.g. PLC, micro­pro­cessor, application-​specific integ­rated cir­cuit) can­not be con­sidered as equi­val­ent to “well tried”.

[1, 6.2.4]

Lets look at what this all means by refer­ring to ISO 13849 – 2:

Table 1 — Well-​Tried Components [2]
Well-​Tried Components Conditions for “well – tried” Standard or spe­cific­a­tion
Screw All factors influ­en­cing the screw con­nec­tion and the applic­a­tion are to be con­sidered. See Table A.2 “List of well – tried safety prin­ciples”. Mechanical joint­ing such as screws, nuts, wash­ers, riv­ets, pins, bolts etc. are stand­ard­ised.
Spring See Table A.2 “Use of a well – tried spring”. Technical spe­cific­a­tions for spring steels and oth­er spe­cial applic­a­tions are giv­en in ISO 4960.
Cam All factors influ­en­cing the cam arrange­ment (e. g. part of an inter­lock­ing device) are to be con­sidered. See Table A.2 “List of well – tried safety prin­ciples”. See EN 1088 (ISO 14119) (Interlocking devices).
Break – pin All factors influ­en­cing the applic­a­tion are to be con­sidered. See Table A.2 “List of well-​tried safety prin­ciples”.

Now we have a few ideas about what might con­sti­tute a ‘well-​tried com­pon­ent’. Unfortunately, you will notice that ‘con­tact­or’ or ‘relay’ or ‘lim­it switch’ appear nowhere on the list. This is a chal­lenge, but one that can be over­come. The key to deal­ing with this is to look at how the com­pon­ents that you are choos­ing to use are con­struc­ted. If they use these com­pon­ents and tech­niques, you are on your way to con­sid­er­ing them to be well-​tried.

Another approach is to let the com­pon­ent man­u­fac­turer worry about the details of the con­struc­tion of the device, and simply ensure that com­pon­ents selec­ted for use in the SRP/​CS are ‘safety rated’ by the man­u­fac­turer. This can work in 80 – 90% of cases, with a small per­cent­age of com­pon­ents, such as large motor starters, some servo and step­per drives and oth­er sim­il­ar com­pon­ents unavail­able with a safety rat­ing. It’s worth not­ing that many drive man­u­fac­tur­ers are start­ing to pro­duce drives with built-​in safety com­pon­ents that are inten­ded to be integ­rated into your SRP/​CS.

Exclusion of Complex Electronics

Note 1 from the first part of the defin­i­tion is very import­ant. So import­ant that I’m going to repeat it here:

NOTE 1 Complex elec­tron­ic com­pon­ents (e.g. PLC, micro­pro­cessor, application-​specific integ­rated cir­cuit) can­not be con­sidered as equi­val­ent to “well tried”.

I added the bold text to emphas­ize the import­ance of this state­ment. While this is included in a Note and is there­fore con­sidered to be explan­at­ory text and not part of the norm­at­ive body of the stand­ard, it illu­min­ates a key concept. This little note is what pre­vents a stand­ard PLC from being used in Category 1 sys­tems. It’s also import­ant to real­ize that this defin­i­tion is only con­sid­er­ing the hard­ware – no men­tion of soft­ware is made here, and soft­ware is not dealt with until later in the stand­ard.

Well-​Tried Safety Principles

Let’s have a look at what ‘Well-​Tried Safety Principles’ might be.

Table 2 — Well-​Tried Safety Principles [2, A.2]
Well-​tried Safety Principles Remarks
Use of care­fully selec­ted mater­i­als and man­u­fac­tur­ing Selection of suit­able mater­i­al, adequate man­u­fac­tur­ing meth­ods and treat­ments related to the applic­a­tion.
Use of com­pon­ents with ori­ented fail­ure mode The pre­dom­in­ant fail­ure mode of a com­pon­ent is known in advance and always the same, see EN 292 – 2:1991, (ISO/​TR 12100 – 2:1992), 3.7.4.
Over – dimensioning/​safety factor The safety factors are giv­en in stand­ards or by good exper­i­ence in safety-​related applic­a­tions.
Safe pos­i­tion The mov­ing part of the com­pon­ent is held in one of the pos­sible pos­i­tions by mech­an­ic­al means (fric­tion only is not enough). Force is needed for chan­ging the pos­i­tion.
Increased OFF force A safe position/​state is obtained by an increased OFF force in rela­tion to ON force.
Careful selec­tion, com­bin­a­tion, arrange­ment, assembly and install­a­tion of components/​system related to the applic­a­tion
Careful selec­tion of fasten­ing related to the applic­a­tion Avoid rely­ing only on fric­tion.
Positive mech­an­ic­al action Dependent oper­a­tion (e. g. par­al­lel oper­a­tion) between parts is obtained by pos­it­ive mech­an­ic­al link(s). Springs and sim­il­ar “flex­ible” ele­ments should not be part of the link(s) [see EN 292 – 2:1991 (ISO/​TR 12100 – 2:1992), 3.5].
Multiple parts Reducing the effect of faults by mul­tiply­ing parts, e. g. where a fault of one spring (of many springs) does not lead to a dan­ger­ous con­di­tion.
Use of well – tried spring (see also Table A.3) A well – tried spring requires:
  • use of care­fully selec­ted mater­i­als, man­u­fac­tur­ing meth­ods (e. g. pre­set­ting and cyc­ling before use) and treat­ments (e. g. rolling and shot – peen­ing),
  • suf­fi­cient guid­ance of the spring, and
  • suf­fi­cient safety factor for fatigue stress (i. e. with high prob­ab­il­ity a frac­ture will not occur).

Well – tried pres­sure coil springs may also be designed by:

  • use of care­fully selec­ted mater­i­als, man­u­fac­tur­ing meth­ods (e. g. pre­set­ting and cyc­ling before use) and treat­ments (e. g. rolling and shot-​peening),
  • suf­fi­cient guid­ance of the spring, and
  • clear­ance between the turns less than the wire dia­met­er when unloaded, and
  • suf­fi­cient force after a fracture(s) is main­tained (i. e. a fracture(s) will not lead to a dan­ger­ous con­di­tion).
Limited range of force and sim­il­ar para­met­ers Decide the neces­sary lim­it­a­tion in rela­tion to the exper­i­ence and applic­a­tion. Examples for lim­it­a­tions are break pin, break plate, torque lim­it­ing clutch.
Limited range of speed and sim­il­ar para­met­ers Decide the neces­sary lim­it­a­tion in rela­tion to the exper­i­ence and applic­a­tion. Examples for lim­it­a­tions are cent­ri­fu­gal gov­ernor; safe mon­it­or­ing of speed or lim­ited dis­place­ment.
Limited range of envir­on­ment­al para­met­ers Decide the neces­sary lim­it­a­tions. Examples on para­met­ers are tem­per­at­ure, humid­ity, pol­lu­tion at the install­a­tion. See clause 8 and con­sider manufacturer’s applic­a­tion notes.
Limited range of reac­tion time, lim­ited hys­ter­esis Decide the neces­sary lim­it­a­tions.
Consider e. g. spring tired­ness, fric­tion, lub­ric­a­tion, tem­per­at­ure, iner­tia dur­ing accel­er­a­tion and decel­er­a­tion,
com­bin­a­tion of tol­er­ances.

Use of Positive-​Mode Operation

The use of these prin­ciples in the com­pon­ents, as well as in the over­all design of the safe­guards is import­ant. In devel­op­ing a sys­tem that uses ‘pos­it­ive mode oper­a­tion’, the mech­an­ic­al link­age that oper­ates the elec­tric­al con­tacts or the fluid-​power valve that con­trols the prime-mover(s) (i.e. motors, cyl­in­ders, etc.), must act to dir­ectly drive the con­trol ele­ment (con­tacts or valve spool) to the safe state. Springs can be used to return the sys­tem to the run state or dan­ger­ous state, since a fail­ure of the spring will res­ult in the inter­lock device stay­ing in the safe state (fail-​safe or fail-​to-​safety).

CSA Z432 [3] provides us with a nice dia­gram that illus­trates the idea of “positive-​action” or “positive-​mode” oper­a­tion:

CSA Z432 Fig B.10 - Positive Mode Operation
Figure 1 – Positive Mode Operation [3, B.10]

In Fig. 1, open­ing the guard door forces the roller to fol­low the cam attached to the door, driv­ing the switch con­tacts apart and open­ing the inter­lock. Even if the con­tacts were to weld, they would still be driv­en apart since the mech­an­ic­al advant­age provided by the width of the door and the cam are more than enough to force the con­tacts apart.

Here’s an example of a ‘neg­at­ive mode’ oper­a­tion:

CSA Z432-04 Fig B.11 - Negative Mode operation
Figure 2 – Negative Mode oper­a­tion [3, B.11]

In Fig. 2, the inter­lock switch relies on a spring to enter the safe state when the door is opened. If the spring in the inter­lock device fails, the sys­tem fails-​to-​danger. Also note that this design is very easy to defeat. A ‘zip-​tie’ or some tape is all that would be required to keep the inter­lock in the ‘RUN’ con­di­tion.

You should have a bet­ter idea of what is meant when you read about pos­it­ive and negative-​modes of oper­a­tion now. We’ll talk about defeat res­ist­ance in anoth­er art­icle.


Combining what you’ve learned so far, you can see that cor­rectly spe­cified com­pon­ents, com­bined with over-​dimensioning and imple­ment­a­tion of design lim­its along with the use of well-​tried safety prin­ciples will go a long way to improv­ing the reli­ab­il­ity of the con­trol sys­tem. The next part of the defin­i­tion of Category 1 speaks to some addi­tion­al require­ments:

The MTTFd of each chan­nel shall be high.

The max­im­um PL achiev­able with cat­egory 1 is PL = c.

NOTE 2 There is no dia­gnost­ic cov­er­age (DCavg = none) with­in cat­egory 1 sys­tems. In such struc­tures (single-​channel sys­tems) the con­sid­er­a­tion of CCF is not rel­ev­ant.

NOTE 3 When a fault occurs it can lead to the loss of the safety func­tion. However, the MTTFd of each chan­nel in cat­egory 1 is high­er than in cat­egory B. Consequently, the loss of the safety func­tion is less likely.

We now know that the integ­rity of a Category 1 sys­tem is great­er than a Category B sys­tem, since the chan­nel MTTFd of the sys­tem has gone from “Low-​to-​Medium” in sys­tems exhib­it­ing PLa or PLb per­form­ance to “High” in sys­tems exhib­it­ing PLb or PLc per­form­ance. [1, Table 5] shows this dif­fer­ence in terms of pre­dicted years to fail­ure. As you can see, MTTFd “High” res­ults in a pre­dicted fail­ure rate between 30 and 100 years. This is a pretty good res­ult for simply improv­ing the com­pon­ents used in the sys­tem!

Table 3 – Mean time to dangerous failure  [1, Table 5]
Table 3 – Mean time to dan­ger­ous fail­ure

The oth­er bene­fit is the increase in the over­all PL. Where Category B archi­tec­ture can provide PLb per­form­ance at best, Category 1 takes this up a notch to PLc. To get a handle on what PLc means, let’s look at our single and three shift examples again. If we take a Canadian oper­a­tion with a single shift per day, and a 50 week work­ing year we get:

7.5 h/​shift x 5 d/​w x 50 w/​a = 1875 h/​a


h = hours

d = days

w = weeks

a  = years

In this case, PLc is equi­val­ent to one fail­ure in 533.3 years of oper­a­tion to 1600 years of oper­a­tion.

Looking at three shifts per day in the same oper­a­tion gives us:

7.5 h/​shift x 3 shifts/​d x 5 d/​w x 50 w/​a = 5625 h/​a

In this case, PLc is equi­val­ent to one fail­ure in 177.8 years of oper­a­tion to 533.3 years of oper­a­tion.

When com­plet­ing the ana­lys­is of a sys­tem, [1] lim­its the sys­tem MTTFd to 100 years regard­less of what the indi­vidu­al chan­nel MTTFd may be. Where the actu­al MTTFd is import­ant relates to the need to replace com­pon­ents dur­ing the life­time of the product. If a com­pon­ent or a sub-​system has an MTTFd that is less than the mis­sion time of the sys­tem, then the com­pon­ent or sub­sys­tem must be replaced by the time the product reaches it’s MTTFd. 20 years is the default mis­sion time, but you can choose a short­er or longer time span if it makes sense.

Remember that these are prob­ab­il­it­ies, not guar­an­tees. A fail­ure could hap­pen in the first hour of oper­a­tion, the last hour of oper­a­tion or nev­er. These fig­ures simply provide a way for you as the design­er to gauge the rel­at­ive reli­ab­il­ity of the sys­tem.

Well-​Tried Components versus Fault Exclusions

The stand­ard goes on to out­line some key dis­tinc­tions between ‘well-​tried com­pon­ent’ and ‘fault exclu­sion’. We’ll talk more about fault exclu­sions later in the series.

It is import­ant that a clear dis­tinc­tion between “well-​tried com­pon­ent” and “fault exclu­sion” (see Clause 7) be made. The qual­i­fic­a­tion of a com­pon­ent as being well-​tried depends on its applic­a­tion. For example, a pos­i­tion switch with pos­it­ive open­ing con­tacts could be con­sidered as being well-​tried for a machine tool, while at the same time as being inap­pro­pri­ate for applic­a­tion in a food industry — in the milk industry, for instance, this switch would be des­troyed by the milk acid after a few months. A fault exclu­sion can lead to a very high PL, but the appro­pri­ate meas­ures to allow this fault exclu­sion should be applied dur­ing the whole life­time of the device. In order to ensure this, addi­tion­al meas­ures out­side the con­trol sys­tem may be neces­sary. In the case of a pos­i­tion switch, some examples of these kinds of meas­ures are

  • means to secure the fix­ing of the switch after its adjust­ment,
  • means to secure the fix­ing of the cam,
  • means to ensure the trans­verse sta­bil­ity of the cam,
  • means to avoid over travel of the pos­i­tion switch, e.g. adequate mount­ing strength of the shock absorber and any align­ment devices, and
  • means to pro­tect it against dam­age from out­side.

[1, 6.2.4]

System Block Diagram

Finally, let’s look at the block dia­gram for Category 1. You will notice that it looks the same as the Category B block dia­gram, since only the com­pon­ents used in the sys­tem have changed, and not the archi­tec­ture.

ISO 13849-1 Figure 9
Figure 3 – Category 1 Block Diagram [1, Fig. 9]


[1]       Safety of machinery — Safety-​related parts of con­trol sys­tems — Part 1: General prin­ciples for design. ISO Standard 13849 – 1, Ed. 2. 2006.

[2]       Safety of machinery — Safety-​related parts of con­trol sys­tems — Part 2: Validation. ISO Standard 13849 – 2, Ed. 2. 2012.

[3]       Safeguarding of Machinery. CSA Standard Z432. 2004.

Add to your Library

If you are work­ing on imple­ment­ing these design stand­ards in your products, you need to buy cop­ies of the stand­ards for your lib­rary.

  • ISO 13849 – 1:2006 Safety of machinery — Safety-​related parts of con­trol sys­tems — Part 1: General prin­ciples for design
  • ISO 13849 – 2:2003 Safety of machinery — Safety-​related parts of con­trol sys­tems — Part 2: Validation

Download IEC stand­ards, International Electrotechnical Commission stand­ards.

If you are work­ing in the EU, or are work­ing on CE Marking your product, you should hold the har­mon­ized ver­sion of this stand­ard, avail­able through the CEN resellers:

  • EN ISO 13849 – 1:2008 Safety of machinery — Safety-​related parts of con­trol sys­tems — Part 1: General prin­ciples for design
  • EN ISO 13849 – 2:2012 Safety of machinery — Safety-​related parts of con­trol sys­tems — Part 2: Validation

Next Installment

Watch for the next part of this series, “Interlock Architectures – Pt. 3: Category 2″ where we expand on the first two cat­egor­ies by adding some dia­gnost­ic cov­er­age to improve reli­ab­il­ity.

Have ques­tions? Email me!

EN ISO 13849 – 1 Mandatory Implementation Date CONFIRMED!

The European Commission con­firms the man­dat­ory imple­ment­a­tion date for EN ISO 13849 – 1:2008 in the Official Journal of the European Commission.

This morn­ing the European Commission con­firmed the state­ment made by Marie Poidevin of CEN last week by pub­lish­ing s revised list of stand­ards (2009/​C 321/​09) includ­ing EN 954 – 1:1996, EN ISO 13849 – 1:2006 and EN ISO 13849 – 1:2008, not­ing “The date of ces­sa­tion of pre­sump­tion of con­form­ity of the super­seded stand­ard, ini­tially fixed on 28.12.2009, has been post­poned for two years.”

Machine build­ers who have been put­ting off imple­ment­a­tion of this stand­ard in their designs have now gained anoth­er two years to edu­cate them­selves and to update their design pro­cesses to include the addi­tion­al ana­lys­is required.

Coming on the man­dat­ory imple­ment­a­tion date of the latest revi­sion of the Machinery Directive, which now expli­citly requires risk assess­ment to be com­pleted as part of the design pro­cess, and new rules that will bring in products that were incor­rectly being marked exclus­ively under the Low Voltage Directive, the next two years will be busy ones for those com­pan­ies who have not been pay­ing much atten­tion to the changes in this import­ant dir­ect­ive.

Companies who are well pre­pared and were ready for the ori­gin­al date are ahead of the mar­ket and should take this oppor­tun­ity to take some gains over the­or com­pet­it­ors by advert­ising their abil­ity to pro­duce com­pli­ant machinery.

Today’s edi­tion of the OJ also brought in a couple of stand­ards pre­vi­ously noti­fied under the old Machinery Directive, but there are many oth­ers that remain to be noti­fied. Most of these are pending updates to bring them into con­form­ity with the revised Essential Requirements, while some may be replaced by new ISO adop­tions of their con­tent with new mater­i­al added.

On the EMC-​PSTC email for­um, a couple of ques­tions were posed that will likely be on the minds of many read­ers. For those who don’t know, Type C stand­ards are “product fam­ily” stand­ards that cov­er a spe­cif­ic type of machinery, like lifts, or power presses. :

What if a Type C stand­ard ref­er­ences only EN ISO 13849 – 1? 

Would it be OK to claim pre­sump­tion of con­form­ity using such a har­mon­ized type C stand­ard yet only using EN 954 – 1 for the con­trol cir­cuits?

If your machine is in the scope of a spe­cif­ic har­mon­ized stand­ard, do you have to use it, rather than gen­er­ics?

I’d like to address these ques­tions in this post, so here goes…

If you are declar­ing con­form­ity to a Type C stand­ard, and that stand­ard calls out EN ISO 13849 – 1 for con­trol reli­ab­il­ity, then in my opin­ion you should be using that stand­ard UNLESS there is some over­rid­ing reas­on that pre­vents you from using it. “We didn’t feel like it” or “It’s too hard” don’t count. If you’re in a pos­i­tion where you must con­tin­ue to use EN 954 – 1, then rationale must be writ­ten for the tech­nic­al file that clearly describes the reas­ons pre­vent­ing the imple­ment­a­tion of the new stand­ard, and fur­ther­more, what has been done to provide an equi­val­ent level of safety and reli­ab­il­ity as would be gained by using the new stand­ard.

If your machine is in the scope of a spe­cif­ic har­mon­ized stand­ard, then it should be declared using that stand­ard and not the gen­er­ics. This is dis­cussed in the guid­ance doc­u­ments for the dir­ect­ive. The gen­er­ic stand­ards are there to be used for products that are not with­in the scope of exist­ing har­mon­ized stand­ards, and for the guid­ance of Technical Committees writ­ing Type C stand­ards. The Type C stand­ard will give the user a spe­cif­ic list of com­mon haz­ards found on the type of machinery covered by the stand­ard, and will provide spe­cif­ic con­trol meas­ures that are expec­ted to be used to con­trol the risks asso­ci­ated with those haz­ards. If there are haz­ards that are not covered by the stand­ard, then gen­er­ic stand­ards may be used to deal with the risks related to that unique haz­ard.

Need more inform­a­tion? Feel free to con­tact me off­line to dis­cuss your applic­a­tion!

Update on EN ISO 13849 – 1 Mandatory Implementation Date

The machinery world con­tin­ues to wait for the European Commission to reveal the new Mandatory Implementation Date for EN ISO 13849 – 1.

The European Commission pub­lished a new Communication relat­ing to the Machinery Directive this past Friday that con­tin­ues the silence from the EC on the man­dat­ory imple­ment­a­tion date for EN ISO 13849 – 1. Communication C 309/​29, the latest update to the list of stand­ards har­mon­ized under the Machinery Directive, indic­ates that EN ISO 13849 – 1 and -2 were noti­fied in the 8-​Sep-​09 Communication, but fails to provide a date for the ces­sa­tion of pre­sump­tion of con­form­ity under the old stand­ard, EN 954 – 1 /​ ISO 13849 – 1 1999. EN 954 – 1 is not lis­ted in the cur­rent doc­u­ment.

MachineBuilding​.net is report­ing that Marie Poidevin from CEN has stated that the pre­sump­tion of con­form­ity under EN 954 – 1 has been exten­ded to 31-​Dec-​2011. Expectations are that an updated list will be pub­lished this week includ­ing a new ref­er­ence to EN 954 – 1 with the new Mandatory Implementation date.

I con­tin­ue to watch this story and will update you as new inform­a­tion is avail­able.