The Elements of Effective Signaling for Industrial Safety and Process Control

Industrial signaling is critical to both process control and personnel safety. Horns and strobes are necessary in order to alert workers to hazards such as gas accumulation and machine failure. They are only effective, however, if they are bright enough to be seen and loud enough to be heard. The right industrial alarm can cut through the noise of heavy industry, but it is important to know the ambient sound level, as well as the maximum sound level, to determine the right decibel level for a given area.

Determine the required safety level for your specific industry

Despite the crucial role that signaling technologies play in protecting employees, many companies still look strictly at minimum standards. With so much at stake, operators need to set a higher standard. Once they determine the required safety level for a specific manufacturing environment, operators can ask a range of questions to arrive at the right signaling devices that best protect their workers, normalize the flow of process conditions, and mitigate overall risk.

Industrial signaling includes audible signaling, visual signaling, and combined audible/visual signaling devices. With so many different aspects of signaling to consider, answering the following questions can effectively lead designers toward the ideal signaling technologies for any intended environment:

  • What must you accomplish with the signal? An alarm? An evacuation notice?
  • What potential hazards prompt you to install the signaling device?
  • How loud is the ambient noise in the intended work environment?
  • Within what area around a machine will people be able to hear an alarm or see a strobe?
  • How far does sound travel in the intended space?
  • What personnel are in the room and where are they located vis a vis the alarm or strobe?

Addressing these concerns provides a good first step towards ensuring safety. However, meeting alarm specifications such as decibels (sound) or lumens (light) is not enough to guarantee the required response by personnel. In order to be effective in alerting personnel, one must consider the following three indispensable dimensions:

The personnel dimension:

The location of personnel with regards to the safety of being notified by a signaling device.

This includes restrictions due to ear and eye protection.

 

The special conditions dimension:

Unique factors in the surrounding environment that could affect whether someone hears or sees an alarm and the life of the alarm’s operation.

 

 

The spatial dimension:

The element that determines the actual effective coverage volume for audible and visual signaling devices. Not just decibels and lumens, but the way sound and light travel through space.

 

Pfannenberg “3D-Coverage” for your alarm notification planning

Pfannenberg’s innovative “3D-Coverage” does not overlook these considerations. For example, Pfannenberg retrofitted a wastewater treatment facility in Tonawanda, NY with chlorine gas alarms. The previous system required 50 devices to cover the facility. Using the 3D approach, Pfannenberg put together a design that integrated its PATROL® and PYRA® systems.

 

These achieved a higher level of coverage with only 20 devices, saving the facility money while simultaneously improving its safety. When it comes to signal processing, Pfannenberg’s 3D coverage brings the vision that can help you find the right approach for both your workplace and your personnel.

 

Coverage example depending on the ambient level:

How to Increase Your Workers Safety with Proper Signaling?

Initially published in “Workplace Material Handling & Safety” Magazine.
September 2019 Issue

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Safety in the workplace is only as good as the systems and measures in place to keep it that way. But, let’s face it, sometimes things do go awry. When that happens, it’s important to have a signaling system in place warn and alert workers to nearby dangers. We talked to Pfannenberg Signaling about the importance of proper signaling devices for any occasion.

Here’s what Jake Vernon, Product Specialist-Audible & Visual Signaling, Pfannenberg Sales, had to say about the importance of proper signaling:

 

HOW DO SIGNALING SYSTEMS ENSURE BETTER WORKER SAFETY?

Unheard, unseen or confusing alarms can have serious consequences in some situations, and specifications on paper do not always reflect how a signal will perform in the actual location. This is why Pfannenberg focuces on providing the best solution to effectively capture the attention of personnel, and it communicate the critical information of the nature of the alarm. If a signal device isn’t properly sized for the type of event that it’s communicating, there is a high likelihood that people can get severely hurt.

 

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO CATEGORIZE EVENTS?

An event, as it pertains to signaling, is defined as “something that happens which has a varying degree of importance.” Not any signaling devices can be used to communicate the varying levels of severity in each situation. You wouldn’t lift a 10-ton load with a 5-ton crane; the same concept is used when selecting signaling devices.

 

WHAT TYPES OF EVERYDAY CIRCUMSTANCES REQUIRE AN ALARM/SIGNALING SYSTEM?

Signaling systems and devices are used to communicate a message of an event which is happening at that very moment. They can be broken down to three types of events:

  • Alarm – Used when immediate evacuation for emergency situations
  • Warn – Used to alert of nearby danger or critical process condition
  • Indication – Used to communicate the status of process or functioning conditions

WHAT TYPES OF HAZARDOUS INCIDENTS REQUIRE SUCH SYSTEMS?

Signals don’t always need to be in hazardous areas to warrant their existence, but to understand how critical the event is will help you determine which type of signal is needed.

 

WHICH SITUATIONS ARE BEST FOR VISUAL SIGNALS VERSES AUDIBLE? WHICH ENVIRONMENTS WARRANT USING BOTH?

Visual signals can be broken down into two categories, LED and Xenon flashing strobe. Audible signals come in the form of tones and the expansive reach of how far they can be heard.

  • Status or function conditions are best used with visual LED and Xenon strobe lights, this is best categorized as an Indication type event.
  •  Nearby danger or critical process conditions would best be used with Xenon strobe and/or audible signals. Audible signals in this area should be a minimum of 5-10dB above the operating sound pressure level. This would be a Warning type event.
  • Immediate evacuation of an area must be a combination of audible and visual to effectively communicate the danger of a life critical situation. This would be an Alarm type event.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT THAT THE  SIGNALING DEVICES BE RUGGED OR BE ABLE TO WITHSTAND SEVERE CONDITIONS?

Effective communication of an event is only as good as the ability of the device to be able to relay that information to keep personnel safe. Pfannenberg offers sounders which are suitable for use both indoors and outdoors, and are adapted to all industrial requirements.

 

DO YOU OFFER A WARRANTY ON YOUR PRODUCTS?

Pfannenberg Signaling offers the North American leading 10-Year signaling warranty, no questions asked. Much of the reason for this was due to the art illumination project where we outfitted the Eiffel Tower with 20,000 flashing strobe lights, which needed to be maintenance- free for over 10 years. Much of the signaling landscape in the Americas carry a 2-5 year warranty, which separates the parts and labor.

 

WHAT MAKES YOUR SIGNALING DEVICES DIFFERENT FROM YOUR COMPETITION?

Pfannenberg’s 3-Dimensional signaling concept sets us apart from the competition through the three most critical areas needed when specifying the correct device:

  • Personnel Dimension – The location of the personnel with regards to the safety of being notified by a signaling device.
  • Spatial Dimension – Determining the area a specific device can cover based on conditions around the alarm (i.e. Decibel level, etc.)
  • Special Conditions – Unique factors in the surrounding environment which could affect the hearing or seeing of the alarm

The Spatial Dimension sets us apart from our competition due to the area each device can cover. Pfannenberg audible and visual signaling devices can cover a larger area per device, allowing for significant cost savings in total cost of ownership to the end-user.

 

WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE FOR COMPANIES LOOKING TO INCREASE SAFETY?

Make safety a priority! Signaling products that are effectively incorporated into your workplace can reduce risks of injury or death, and allow your personnel to leave work the same way they arrived.

Pfannenberg Signaling Alarms Notify Personnel and Community of Chlorine Gas Leak

Chlorine Gas Detection Alarm System Works as Designed

In 2015 Pfannenberg provided signaling notification appliances (alarm horns and strobes) to the North Tonawanda Wastewater Treatment Facility as part of their new Gas Detection Alarm System. On the evening of Tuesday, September 13, 2016 there was a very small chlorine gas leak. Pfannenberg’s PATROL Signaling Alarms were triggered through the system notifying plant personnel and surrounding area. The alarms could heard up to a mile away from the facility.

>> All clear given following chlorine leak (VIDEO)


Even though the leak was very minor, everyone was pleased to know that the system worked as specified, providing adequate warning. Hopefully there will never be a larger leak, but if there were then it is reassuring to know that the personnel and community will have plenty of advanced warning to the potential hazard.

Click Here to check out our case study about this project.


Topics: Industrial Safety & Signaling SolutionsWastewater TreatmentGas DetectionAlarms

Pfannenberg’s Rugged and Reliable Industrial Alarms Ensure Safety in the Steel Industry

Steel industry employees face a great deal of danger at work. The BLS uses “Fatal Injury Rate” to signify the relative danger of industries by taking into account the rate of fatalities and the hours worked. By this measure, the rate for registered nurses is 0.5, for automotive service technicians and mechanics is 7.2, and for construction laborers is 14.2. Structural iron and steel workers contend with a fatal injury rate of 33.4, making it one of the most dangerous sectors in which to work. Tragically, fourteen structural iron and steel workers lost their lives from work injuries in 2017 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the same period, approximately 2,200 workers suffered non-fatal injuries at iron and steel mills alone.

This danger is costly, first to the injured workers themselves, but also to the morale of their coworkers, to productivity because of time lost, to the enterprise because of fines, to the relationship between labor and management, and more.

How can  still mills ensure their workers are working in safe conditions?

One way is to make danger easier to see and hear.

The hazards of the industry—moving machinery, on-site traffic, hot and molten material—are exacerbated by the extreme noises and sights of steel production. Electric arc furnaces, for example, are extremely loud systems. It is critical to employee safety to clearly communicate danger around the furnace, but noise and harsh environmental conditions can defeat the effect of poorly-suited warning devices.

These circumstances call for a rugged option. The PATROL Series Flashing Sounders from Pfannenberg, for example, offers high-durability. Tough enough to perform in -40° F or 131° F, these alarms are built to withstand the temperature fluctuations of steel production. Break-resistant ABS plastic houses the devices, designed with a resilient pyramid shape, and they are rated for harsh conditions with ingress protection of IP 66. For added grit, mills can choose from one of the most robust sounding products available, with IP 66, IP 67 cast aluminum housing, the DS series sounders.

Just as important, PATROL visual and audible signaling devices emit 80 alarm tones at varying frequencies between 400 Hz and 4000 Hz, so their sound cannot be mistaken for common mill noises. Plus, Pfannenberg’s unique 3-D Coverage approach factors in the cluttered sound environment and the hearing protection equipment worn by personnel to correctly size the effective range of each device. Regardless of whether they install PATROL or DS devices, workers and facilities managers alike can count on Pfannenberg’s industry-leading 10-year warranty.

In sum, Pfannenberg signaling is meant to be heard in time every time!

No steelworker should have to work in unnecessarily unsafe conditions, and Pfannenberg makes it easier for steel mills to ensure that every safety protection available is in place, including rugged and reliable industrial signaling devices.

Pfannenberg Signaling Expert to Speak About Crane Safety at AIST Crane Symposium

Pfannenberg, Inc., a leading global manufacturer of thermal management and signaling technologies, announces that Audible & Visual Signaling Product Specialist Jake Vernon will present on the topic of Crane Safety at the 26th AIST Crane Symposium, to be held June 2-4, 2019, at the Seelbach Hilton, in Louisville, Kentucky.

 

Mr. Vernon’s speech will focus on signaling confusion in loud steel making environments. Mr. Vernon will provide an introduction on the science of sound and how it travels, including the concepts of frequency and amplitude, as well as an analysis of the steel making sound environment and crane safety topic.

He will then discuss ways to make signaling safer for personnel and machines, including use of such products as Pfannenberg PATROL®Series and PYRA® Series Flashing Light Sounders.

 

PATROL Series Flashing Sounders offer 80 pre-programmed alarm tones with 4 stages for distinctive signaling of specific events, such as conveyor start-up/stop, material jam, machine fault, and gas detection. Higher frequency tones prove safer for steel making, while other audible and visual signaling cues may lead to confusion.

Rugged PYRA Flashing Light Sounders emit extremely bright alarm flashes of up to 15 Joules.  Selectable flash frequency, optional control input flash activation, and separate visual and acoustic signal controls make them a good choice for crane safety in loud steel making environments.


About Pfannenberg

Established in 1954 by Otto Pfannenberg in Hamburg Germany, Pfannenberg is recognized as a leading global manufacturer of thermal management technologies within the Electro-technology Industry. In 1958 we invented the Filterfan®, which continues to be recognized worldwide as a leading product to help manage the temperature in electrical enclosures. Our business philosophy: Protecting Man, Machine and the Environment.

Time is money! Pfannenberg’s Signaling Devices Installation is 75% Faster Than The Competition

We will never say it enough, Pfannenberg’s “Plug & Play” mounting system makes our PATROL and PYRA Signaling Devices the easiest and quickest to install in the market! Installation can be done in less than a minute thanks to a captive fastener plus electrical wiring that avoids the need for a 3-hand assembly.

Below are two very popular 100dB sounders, which are used very commonly on machines and in plants. Pfannenberg’s PA 1 can be installed in less than a quarter of the time as our competitors. Time = Money and Large scale installations make Pfannenberg the best choice!

Installing a PATROL® Sounder takes 45 seconds

Quick installation is guaranteed for the rugged PATROL® Series Signaling Devices, ideal for safety and process alarming applications on cranes, in mines, mills, and factories, and for other heavy industry. Plug and socket connections and safe wiring also protect installers from electrical hazards. Once set up, facilities can rely on these units to operate reliably in harsh environments for years, with IP66 ingress protection, IK08 impact rating, and an industry-leading 10-Year Warranty backing every unit.

PATROL® Sounders and Flashing Sounders offer 80 alarm tones with 4 stages, so one device can signal a number of conditions. These Signaling Devices can be integrated with ease into a variety of safety systems, including fixed gas detection. Alerting personnel of an evacuation when hazardous gas is present, these signaling products offer workplace safety in energy generation, wastewater treatment, food and beverage manufacturing, refrigeration, gas production….

For more information on PATROL® signaling devices watch the new video or visit www.pfannenbergusa.com/signaling-technologies.

For expert guidance on selecting the right signaling equipment for your facility, use our 3D Coverage Calculator.

 

‘PLUG & PLAY’ MOUNTING SYSTEM:

Saves time and reduces costs. Potential errors are eliminated and incorrect assembly is not possible.

 

Installation time is just one of the great features which makes Pfannenberg Incorporated the premier signaling company in the market!

Pfannenberg Installs Sounders at the Distribution Hub of One of the World’s Largest Online Retailers

Standard-compliant alarm system: 96 PATROL Sounders in a  100,000 sq ft. warehouse

Pfannenberg has equipped a distribution hub of one of the world’s leading online retailers with Audible Signaling Devices for emergency evacuation. Pfannenberg used its practice-based planning system “Pfannenberg 3D Coverage” to design an ideal signaling solution for a space covering more than 100,000 sq ft. with high bay racks and high ceilings.

 

3D Coverage for Audible Signaling Devices 

It is important to plan the emergency evacuation alarm system for a noisy and hectic environment such as that of a logistics center. Early and professional planning of the signaling devices is particularly important in order to ensure emergency evacuation alarms comply with standards in a cost-efficient manner. Despite high shelves and significant noise levels, the online retailer was able to implement a signaling solution with the help of a system integrator and the use of Pfannenberg’s 3D Coverage method to meet all relevant standards and ensure that every worker in this large logistics center is effectively alerted in case of an emergency. In addition, data-based planning ensured proper sizing of the emergency evacuation alarm system: An undersized system involves a high-risk potential while over sizing represents unnecessary costs.

“Current norms state that the sound generated by acoustic signaling devices must exceed the ambient noise level by 10 dB(A) at all times. This often makes it difficult for planners and alarm specialists to determine the number of devices required to provide an alert through large spaces that will comply with standards but at the same time are cost-effective. The information traditionally supplied on technical data sheets by many manufacturers however, don’t allow conclusions to be drawn about the actual product performance in a given space. 3D Coverage shows the actual product performance and helps to achieve a safe solution, select the right products and save costs through correct sizing.”

Safety through visible signaling area

The 3D Coverage planning method makes it possible to determine and design the signaling range actually covered by acoustic signaling devices in relation to the height, width and length of the space throughout which the signal is to be heard. With 3D Coverage integrated in Pfannenberg’s free “Pfannenberg Sizing Software” (PSS), the electrical engineering specialists succeeded in designing the optimal signaling solution. The software not only calculates individual values, but also provides a qualified recommendation for suitable signaling devices and their positioning.

Planning reliability and cost savings

The calculations showed that 96 sounders of the PATROL series were required to alarm the logistics center with an area of more than 100,000 sq ft. at a calculated noise level of 85 dB(A). Furthermore, the calculations showed that PATROL sounders with 120 dB(A), were the perfect solution for this application, being powerful enough for covering the necessary signaling range and allowing for a simple and time-saving installation. This significantly reduced the number of sounders required compared to similar models available on the market.

The 3D Coverage display method used provided reliable protection against incorrect sizing and allows for reliable compliance with industrial norms and regulations, and optimum cost efficiency. Thanks to intelligent planning, the online retailer was able to save material and servicing costs.

For more information please read our TECHNICAL REPORT.

Come Join Pfannenberg at IMTS 2018

Please join us at McCormick Place, Chicago, IL from September 10th-15th.

The International Manufacturing Technology Show is one of the largest industrial trade shows in the world, featuring more than 2400 exhibiting companies and 115612 registrants.


Pfannenberg is a global manufacturer of products and solutions developed to keep critical plant operations online and personnel safe.  You’re invited  to visit Booth #121277 (East Building, Level 2) to learn more about our proven Thermal ManagementIndustrial Alarms and Liquid Cooling Solutions designed to keep your electronics cool, personnel safe and your machines running in any type of environments. Guaranteed!

Pfannenberg is proud to present for the first time its Revolutionary New Way to Cool your Electrical Enclosures!

Discover at IMTS Pfannenberg’s New PKS 3000 Series Air/Air Heat Exchangers, the Next Generation Cooling for Electrical Enclosures

Pfannenberg’s PKS 3000 Series Air to Air Heat Exchangers use a revolutionary next generation cooling technology that out-performs conventional heat exchangers and/or heat pipe solutions. One of the best technologies to use when there is a temperature difference between the internal target temperature and the surrounding temperature (∆T≥10°C) is air to air technology.

An air/air heat exchanger removes heat from inside of the enclosure to the cooler environment using the least amount of energy while still providing a closed loop ingress protection.

 

We will also be featuring demonstrations of the following products/solutions at the IMTS show in Chicago:

Air to Water Heat Exchangers: specifically designed for enclosure cooling in harsh areas.

Our PWS Air/Water Heat Exchangers are designed to fit into most existing AC enclosure cutouts and use existing glycol or water sources for cooling.

 

 

 

packaged compact chillerChillers: Pfannenberg’s chillers guarantee a central and cost-effective solution and perfectly answer industry’s need for precise temperature control and absolute reliability, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Design is compact, maintenance friendly and they easily match global requirements due to the flexibility in terms of certifications such as UL. CC Chillers are ideal for quick setup and trouble free operation.

 

 

 

“Signaling Confusion”: Did you ever notice that many of the buzzers and lights, sound and look the same across many of your lines? OEM machines typically come supplied with the same brands/types of buzzers and flashing lights.  Pfannenberg’s PATROL and PYRA Signaling Products are easy to install onto existing machines, they feature a durable, robust design, and have 80 different tones for 4 different events. Making your facility more safe.

 

 


More details at IMTS website:
http://www.imts.com/

Pfannenberg’s PATROL PA X 20 Series – Highly Effective Alarming for Loud Industrial Environments

In many industrial areas the of use for signaling devices is associated with adverse environmental conditions. In louder and wider surroundings (e.g high ceilings, crane operations…) a strong sounder combined with a flashing light can ensure your personnel safety.

PATROL PA X 20 – Strong 120 dB (A) Alarm Device

PATROL Flashing Sounder

Pfannenberg’s PATROL PA X 20 Flashing Sounders offer an enhanced level of signaling by combining strong visual and a 120 dB (A) audible alarms. Such devices are particularly well suited for environments with high ambient noise levels or when the use of hearing protection may hamper a sounder’s effectiveness.

These Flashing Sounders are equipped with Electromagnetic sound capsule technology which means that the acoustic signal includes a share of low frequency side bands for excellent sound penetration of walls and doors for highly effective alarming.

When do you need a PA X 20 Flashing Sounder?

Pfannenberg offers Industrial Sounders ranging from 100 to 120 dB (A). Our 120 dB (A) sounders are considered as “Highly Effective Alarming” and have been designed for Industries with loud ambient noise level (I.E. Steel mills, shop factory floor, etc…).

Knowing that every 3dB is a doubling of sound intensity, the difference between a 100 and a 120 dB (A) sounder is huge and need to be taken into consideration when planning an alarm system. 

For a same Ambient Noise Level, a 120 dB Signaling Device will not offer only 20% more coverage than a 100 dB one but a lot wider area.

EXAMPLE:

The following diagram shows the real coverage (the area in which the required sound pressure level is achieved ) of Pfannenberg sounders with a specific ambient noise level:

> 80 dB Sound Pressure Required
> 70 dB Ambiant noise 
(plus 10 dB offset)

This diagram clearly shows that, for this specific environment, a 120 dB sounder (PA 20) will offer a 10 times better coverage (100 m) than a 100 dB sounder (PA 5 – 10 m).

In this example, the 120 dB(A) sounder performance is immediately apparent and allows to define how much devices are required based on the area to cover.

PA X 20 Flashing Sounder Specifications

Pfannenberg’s  Flashing Sounders are designed as integrated flashing sounders, rather than combining a sounder with a bolted-on flashing light. The lens cover is large, highly visible, and available in a variety of colors. The xenon strobe flash tube contains no filament to break and is secured by a steel clamp to further protect it from abuse. Users can choose from a wide selection of acoustic tones which are electronically self-generated – and since there are no moving parts, the device’s reliability is enhanced for critical applications. The housing is manufactured from a UV-resistant and flame-retardant polycarbonate/ABS blend and is offered in red or grey to meet application requirements and building decor.

Technical Data:

  • 120 dB (A) at 1 m SPL (nominal) with superior low frequency sound penetration
  • 80 alarm tones with 4 stages, selectable via internal DIP switch
  • 1 Hz single flash xenon strobe, 15 Joules
  • Internal volume control
  • IP 66 PC/ABS blend housing
  • Light is pre-wired to a common terminal strip for ease of installation
  • 10.6″ (270 mm) h x 8.4″ (214 mm) w x 7.1″ (181 mm) d

Coverage area for Required Sound Levels of 80, 85 and 90 dB (A) and clear lens:

These figures shown are mainly for a quick orientation. For an individual and precise interpretation please use  PFANNENBERG SIZING SOFTWARE (PSS)


Pfannenberg is proud to increase Industrial Safety with its robust, field-proven, visual and audible signaling devices for alarm, warning, and indication. Our business philosophy – Protection for man, machine and the environment.

Click here to learn more about our Signaling Solutions!

PYRA® Flashing Strobe Lights & Sounders – Bright Versatile Alarms that Installs Anywhere

Pfannenberg range of PYRA® Flashing Strobe Lights and Sounders are the best solution for many applications worldwide. Due to the large signaling coverage provided by Pfannenberg’s alarms, the amount of signaling devices required is significantly reduced. This supports an application that is economical while ensuring industrial safety.

Pfannenberg range of PYRA® Flashing Strobe Lights and Sounders offers:

  • Visible field of 180° x 360°
  • Surface or flush/panel installation
  • Extremely robust enclosure for any outdoor and indoor applications
  • Mounting atop metal conduit with standard 1/2 NPT compression fitting

Extremely Bright Strobe Lights

Signaling devices with XENON technology, such as Pfannenberg’s PYRA® series (PYRA® X-SPYRA® X-M and PYRA® X-L), as a rule cover a wider area than comparable products with different technologies and installation locations. Flashing beacons utilize glass tubes filled with xenon gas to produce a bright flash of light when energized.

A typical flash rate is once per second – but this can vary by device. Units with multiple flash capability offer a variety of flash sequences and rates.

Ranging from 5 to 15 Joules, the PYRA® flashing lights belong to a new generation of powerful signaling devices which are convincing because of many advantageous product features.

For example:

PYRA–M Flashing Strobes (5 or 10 Joules)

These devices have a ratio between the signaling range and the power consumption which is more than twice as good as that of LED-based lights.

PYRA flashing light sounder

These devices reach a huge visual 3D-coverage area, which is more than double that of the 10 Joule flashing light.

Modern Alarms for Industrial Hazards

Pfannenberg’s PYRA visual and acoustic signaling devices can easily be installed on existing systems. Satisfying numerous alarm, warning, and indication requirements, including: machinery operating status, process monitoring, system startup, and building or area evacuation due to fire, toxic gas leak, spills, or intruder alert. These devices offer extensive certifications including UL and CE in support of worldwide requirements. They also include a standard 10-Year Warranty, guaranteed to protect man, machine and the environment.