Hitachi welcomes AI technology update to Europe’s Machinery Directive

By Leila Steed01 February 2023

Hitachi Construction Machinery Europe (HCME) has announced that it is in favour of new safety rules, that have been proposed to help regulate the use of AI (artificial intelligence) technologies in construction and demolition equipment in the European Union.

An Hitachi excavator at work Hitachi welcomes digital safety rules. (Photo: HCME)

The equipment manufacturer is supporting the new Machinery Regulation proposed by the European Commission.

The Machinery Regulation is a revision to the existing 2006 Machinery Directive, which was introduced to harmonise health and safety standards and technical specifications for equipment.

New safety rules included in the proposed revision cover “autonomous machines, human-machine collaboration and, for the first time, the safe use of artificial intelligence systems in machinery”.

Takaharu Ikeda, HCME president, said: “This is a major milestone for the European construction industry and sets the scene for machine safety for many years to come.

“We welcome the benefits this new regulation will bring to us as a manufacturer, and most importantly, the positive impact it will have on safety for our customers and end users.”

According to HCME, the creation and adoption of new digital technologies means that the construction equipment sector is being presented with new challenges and risks - particularly regarding how safe products are in the areas of “connectivity, autonomy, and data dependency”.

Although the exact terms of the safety provisions have not yet been disclosed, “It is hoped that it will reinforce the industry’s trust in the next generation of machines, as well as foster innovation, and boost the machinery sector’s competitiveness in Europe and on a global basis,” said HCME.

HCME is among many in the construction sector to welcome the proposed safety rules.

The regional association CECE (Committee for European Construction Equipment) has also announced its support.

Commenting on the equipment covered by the proposal, CECE said it “welcomed the result of only a few machines being listed in Annex I, Part A, as well as the fact that the machinery sector is now governed by a regulation that would avoid different interpretations and legal uncertainty.”

Another benefit of the new rules is that they will enable manufacturers to use digital formats for user manual instructions and other equipment documentation.

According to the European Commission, this will lower administrative costs and contribute to an industry-wide saving of up to €16.6 billion (US$18.1 billion) a year.

The Machinery Regulation proposal was recently submitted to the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union for formal approval.

If passed into law, it would turn the 2006 directive from a set of objectives that EU countries can meet under their own laws, into EU legislation that overrules national laws.

EU countries would then have around 42 months to adopt the new safety regulations.

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