A kill switch, similarly known as an e-stop or an emergency stop is used as a mechanism for safety. It makes machinery shut down in an emergency situation, where they cannot be shut down in the typicalmethod. This sort of a mechanism is designed to stop the machinery even with a damage done to the equipments as opposed to the normal shut down procedure because the rationale behind it is to probably save a human being stuck in a dangerous way or similar. It is also designed to do this quickly and in a simple manner so that anyone who doesn’t have a specialized mechanical knowledge can activate that switch. Even a smartphone has a “kill switch” where an owner can make the phone inoperable if it is stolen.
Kill switches in automobiles
You might know of kill switch application in railways. One can pull the emergency switch to activate the brakes and stop the train in a crisis or a disaster situation. Some of these apparatuses are popularly known as dead man’s switch or a watchdog timer. These switches are used on other land vehicles as well which are used in an anti-theft system which is fixed on the steering wheel. It is activated if and when the other relevant mechanisms are stuck but the vehicle needs to be stopped. In water, kill switches are connected to the passenger’s clothing, life jacket or a diving suit which can immediately stop the boat if the passenger is accidently thrown off of it. It is vital that these devices are always updated and underwent industrial electrical maintenance to keep to the standards.
Why is it important?
Given the unpredictability of the world, it is important that we are ready for anything. Not only natural disasters, but also man-made ones happen all the time. After the 19th century machinery and mechanical application increased by a few-folds and today we hardly do anything by our hands. Manual labour is used at a very few instances and even that is now diminishing as many AI or artificial intelligence, what is commonly known as robots, are designed to replace human workers. As a result work will be done faster and far more efficiently. However even with robots, an emergency could occur. Hence the concept of kill switches is applied there as well.
Usage in day-to-day applications
Even though we are not aware of it, fuel stations use it as well even they are not frequently thought of as vehicles or similar machinery. This is used in pumps where gasoline is stored and other similar devices that propel large volumes of chemicals that can be flammable or explosive. All pumps have a common switch. All these must undergo EEHA inspections or Electrical Equipment in Hazardous Areas check to see which qualifies for a kill switch.
We may not be electrical or mechanical engineers but knowing what to do in an emergency situation is of utmost importance. It could help you save a life.