What is a Safety Relay and what is it used for

Safety Relays with Forced Guidance: A Guarantee of Safety in Electrical Systems

Forced-guided safety relays represent an essential component in industrial automation systems, where safety is a top priority. These devices are designed to ensure that, in the event of a failure, the system reacts predictably and safely, minimizing the risk of accidents.

What is a Forced-Guided Safety Relay?

A forced-guided safety relay is a special type of electromechanical relay used for safety applications. The distinguishing feature of these relays is the presence of forced-guided contacts. This means that the normally open (NO) and normally closed (NC) contacts are mechanically interlocked in such a way that they can never be both closed or open simultaneously.
This forced guidance mechanism ensures that, in the event of a failure, such as a contact getting stuck (commonly referred to as welding), the relay cannot close a circuit that could lead to a hazardous condition. In practice, forced-guided contacts allow for the immediate detection of a failure and activation of an emergency stop.

Operation of Forced-Guided Safety Relays

The operation of forced-guided safety relays is based on established electromechanical principles, but with some critical safety additions:

1. **Forced-Guided Contacts**: As mentioned, forced-guided contacts are designed to move in sync, preventing NO and NC contacts from being in the same position (both closed or open) simultaneously.
2. **Monitoring Circuit**: Safety relays are often equipped with monitoring circuits that detect the position of the contacts. In case of a failure, such as a welded contact, the monitoring circuit cuts off power to the load, ensuring the system enters a safe condition.

3. **Redundancy**: Many forced-guided safety relays use a redundant configuration, with multiple contacts working in parallel. This ensures that even if one contact fails, the others can continue to maintain system safety.

Applications of Forced-Guided Safety Relays

Forced-guided safety relays are used in a wide range of industrial and commercial applications. Some examples include:

- **Industrial Machinery**: They are often used in machinery that requires a high level of safety, such as mechanical presses, industrial robots, and automated production lines.
- **Transportation Systems**: In railway and public transport systems, forced-guided safety relays are crucial for ensuring passenger safety.

- **Chemical Plants and Refineries**: In environments where hazardous substances are handled, these relays help prevent catastrophic accidents.

Standards and Certifications

The use of forced-guided safety relays is often regulated by strict standards that define their design and operational requirements. Standards such as IEC 60947-5-1 and EN 50205 specify the characteristics and performance these devices must have. Certifications from bodies like TUV, UL, and CE are often required to ensure that the relays meet international safety standards.

Advantages and Considerations

Forced-guided safety relays offer numerous advantages, including:

- **Reliability**: Robust mechanical design and continuous contact monitoring ensure high reliability.

- **Enhanced Safety**: They significantly reduce the risk of accidents related to control circuit failures.

- **Ease of Maintenance**: The ability to detect faults immediately facilitates maintenance and reduces downtime.

However, it is important to consider that forced-guided safety relays must be correctly integrated into the overall system and that their maintenance must be performed regularly to ensure their long-term effectiveness.


Forced-guided safety relays represent a fundamental component for safety in industrial electrical systems. Thanks to their ability to detect and react to failures safely and reliably, these devices help protect both people and equipment, improving overall operational safety. With the evolution of technologies and regulations, the role of forced-guided safety relays will continue to be crucial in designing safe and reliable systems.

LINK: https://www.findernet.com/en/worldwide/series/50-series-forcibly-guided-contacts-relay-8a/type/type-5016-forcibly-guided-contacts-relay-8a/

L.Pautasso (contacts: lpautas gmail) & I.A.

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