Whirlwind Tool Company holds a US Patent related to distruptive technology machine tool data logging for monitoring both safety features and machine tool utilization history. According to Whirlwind Tool owner and inventor, David Butler, “this latest technology addresses the benefits of conveniently monitoring the operation of dangerous machine tools over an extended period of time to help insure that the recommended safety features and safe practices are routinely being followed.”
Machine owners and management can now review “black box” operational data including the use of various guards provided to protect an operator from hazards posed by cutting blades, stamping forces, crushing operations and all similar machine tool features or components, that may lead to serious operator injury. Also, for large organizations this will assist in optimizing machine utilization by providing a full chronology of past machine use over a period of time.”
Many types of machine tools pose consequential danger to operators that are either unaware of safe practices, not sufficiently experienced in the machine’s use, or who have developed generally unsafe operating practices. The table saw is a prime example of such machines, as reflected by their grim safety record over the past century. Safety features such as blade guards in place can now be monitored continuously along with details of each operating cycle together with time stamp. The encrypted data may be read locally or remotely through a network connection and in the event of a safety related incident; the machine may be disabled pending further investigation.
Currently it is not usually possible to review the history of the machine’s operation and the safety configuration at the time of an accident including the use of safety guards. The result of this lack of operating data is needless speculation among the stakeholders facing possible litigation, about how to allocate fault and avoid protracted liability litigation. Injury statistics over the last decade indicate the status quo leads to table saws alone causing at least ten amputations per day in the United States, which represents its own societal cost in excess of 2.5 billion dollars annually.
Micro-technology has made it possible to economically monitor even lower-cost consumer-grade machine tool’s detailed operating history over long periods using black-box data recording. The operating history summary may also be displayed at the machine, to further warn machine operators if basic safe practices are not being followed, and the stored operating history may be periodically reviewed using external equipment to insure that safe operating practices are followed. In the event of an injury or incident requiring review, the recorded history of the subject machine may be externally read for further analysis by EH&S managers, employers, insurance carriers or others with interest in a form of settlement or litigation.
Employment of this data logging feature is expected to be solely at the discretion of the machine tool owner.