Karl Klotzbach 2017-10-25 01:59:15
The challenge: one standard, one test, one certification recognized and accepted globally. Easily said, but not so easy to accomplish. We live in a complex world where technologies in production agriculture cover the spectrum from manual labor to highly automated machines for tilling, planting, cultivating, spraying, and harvesting. The common concern across this spectrum is the safety of those engaged in agriculture. Unfortunately, there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to address the broad range of safety concerns. Throughout the world, agriculture contributes to the well-being of everyone by providing food, fiber, and a source of renewable fuels. However, the economic and technological advances are not evenly distributed. Highly industrialized regions, such as North America and Europe, have increased their agricultural productivity with larger, more powerful, and technically sophisticated machines, such as self-propelled harvesting machines and tractors that can sense tractive loads and automatically adjust gear ratios to match working conditions. Developing regions, such as India, China, and most of Africa, are evolving from manual labor to low-end mechanization and are still working through a progression that more highly developed regions experienced long ago. Even in developed countries, the technological advances in production agriculture have outpaced human adaptations to the increased machine output. Desirable productivity factors, such as increased power and speed, provide opportunity for risk of harm to machine operators. Demand for higher-output machines placed the focus on known technologies for the transmission of power from the on-board engine to the functional components. Those known technologies, such as pulleys, belts, chains, and sprockets, replaced operations that were once performed manually. In earlier times, those simple devices were better understood than potential risks to machine operators, such as entanglement, dismemberment, and rollover. In some countries, the response to these concerns was to impose strict regulations and to legislate safety into agricultural machinery. Europe published the Machinery Directive—supported by CEN, the European Committee for Standardization—for the creation of product safety standards, some or which were applicable to agricultural machinery. Brazil enacted a regulatory standard, NR12, that implies employer responsibility for providing appropriate protective measures for workers, although the real impetus for machine safety has moved upstream to the manufacturers. In Canada and the U.S., government regulatory involvement in the design of agricultural machinery has not been the experience. Instead, soon after its inception in 1907, ASABE (initially ASAE) began accepting drafts and publishing voluntary consensus standards guiding the design of agricultural machinery. Over the years, that portfolio of machinery standards has grown—mainly for machine design, but increasingly product safety concerns have found their way into published standards, along with standards for operator instructions and safety labeling. Other safety concerns for agricultural machinery include traveling on public roadways, including lighting and marking of agricultural machines to make them visible to other traffic, which is often moving much faster. Many agricultural machines must be driven long distances between fields and other work locations. In addition to traffic safety, these larger, heavier, and faster machines, of course, require appropriate levels of controllability, such as steering and braking. In European countries, ag machines that travel on public roadways must pass a formal inspection and approval process, known as homologation, that is similar to the testing, documentation, and licensing required for trucks and automobiles. In addition, standards have been developed for testing and reporting on the performance of steering and braking systems. With the increasingly global exchange of products, a more consistent approach to product safety in agricultural machinery is needed. With input from larger, globally integrated manufacturers, participation in the International Organization of Standards (ISO) was an appropriate response for ASABE. Today, ASABE supports international standards development through its membership and associated activities. ASABE plays a role in reporting U.S. national positions to ISO through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) by sponsoring Mirror Committees of ISO Technical Committees and associated Working Groups. Many ASABE standards include normative references of ISO standards, most notably the “umbrella” product safety standard for agricultural machinery in North America (ASABE Standard S318). Thanks to its long history and active membership, ASABE continues to have a positive influence on product safety practices, domestically and internationally. ASABE member Karl Klotzbach, P Eng, P.E., Product Safety and Homologations Engineer, CNH Industrial America LLC, Racine Wisc., USA, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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