As we race towards 50 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020, Industry 4.0 presents a huge challenge to manufacturers. Collaborative robots and the automation of tasks previously carried out by people is reducing the need for traditional machine guarding while increasing the need for smart interlocks.

Malcolm Sharp, Managing Director of Fortress’ Australian operations, discusses how the company is facing these challenges head-on.

“At Fortress, our focus has always been on mechanical strength and reliability – our interlocks are, after all, the strongest in the market. But we’re also building in additional functionality to help our customers with their processes. As the importance of data increases, we know that our products will be required to feedback through extensive, potentially global, data networks.

“We are already moving in this direction, with recent installations utilising our network-enabled gate switches designed to operate on safety networks. These products are easy to configure and install and provide additional operational feedback, as well as carrying out their safety-critical task.

“Two years ago Fortress launched an online configurator, enabling customers to create complex safety products from our wide range of modules and components. There are more than 4.9 billion potential configurations that could be created and since its introduction over 10,000 unique configurations have been created. Five years ago, such a configurator was unimaginable.

“As industry evolves, our view remains unchanged – we need to protect people and productivity. It remains our massive transformative purpose in this digital age.”