Iowa Patent of the Month – October 2022

When dealing with dangerous automated equipment, protective measures must be in place. One of the most common solutions is the traditional “Lockout” or “Tag out” (LOTO) feature which safeguards employees from the unexpected startup or energization of a machine. This lockout feature is commonly used during maintenance activities. While these processes are useful, they often require excessive paperwork and the manual updating of electrical one-line drawings to accurately reflect current status of energy sources. As we all know, humans are prone to error and these reflections are crucial to employee safety.

AutoLOTO, Inc. was founded with the intention of improving these systems. These incredibly complex and redundant electrical one-line drawings make it difficult for even the most experienced electricians in the field to identify all sources of energy and their isolation points needed to protect themselves from potential harm. AutoLOTO’s recently patented “Hazardous Energy Control System” was designed to manage these complexities, automating the LOTO processes.

The web-based application eliminates the downtime of managing the electrical line drawings by immediately identifying energy isolation devices for any specified equipment. Any operator can use the app to view worksites, track equipment, and create or edit profiles. When conducting a LOTO, project drawings and documents are uploaded to the app including the location of equipment and hazardous energy barriers. The desired equipment is then selected and the LOTO process is initiated. The user must then confirm they are in the correct position to hang a lock and that the lock has been authorized. Similarly, the user must verify they are in the correct location to conduct a Live Dead Live test on the equipment, maximizing safety. Similar processes are conducted in reverse to end a LOTO and remove a lock.

By meticulously and accurately tracking locks and LOTO processes, AutoLOTO has found their solution drastically reduces electrical near miss statistics, translating to a smaller chance of electrical injury or death on the job site. 

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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