Are Industrial Robots Safe?

As industrial robots become more popular, many customers wonder whether robots are safe to implement in their facility.

Although an industrial robot will improve the ergonomic conditions in a production area, there is a perception that the robot will create an unsafe work environment. Not only are robots proving to be safer in avoiding injuries to humans and causing fewer mistakes, following safety standards also leads to overall safety success. Questions such as these may arise when considering implementing robotic automation:

  • What makes a robot safe?
  • Are these technologies evolving faster than the safety standards?
  • How can we benefit from them while maintaining worker safety?
    Will we sacrifice productivity for safety?

Since the dawn of robots added into any business, safety has been the highest priority on everyone’s list. While traditional fenced robots had their boundaries, the rise of collaborative robots demanded better safety features if they were expected to work alongside humans.  In today’s modern times, collaborative robots are outfitted with some of the best safety technology the world has to offer. Three safety features leading the way towards a safer tomorrow include:

Power and Force Limiting – Restricting the amount of force available in the system either through electrical means or mechanical compliance such as the use of Series Elastic Actuators (SEAs)

Hand Guiding – Ability to go into zero-gravity mode allowing humans to freely guide and program without the risk of injury

Stopped State Monitoring/Safety Zones – Technology that enables the robot to slow down or stop when detecting a human too close, thereby reducing the chance of impact or injury

Other key factors for ensuring safety include taking a close look at your standard safety procedures, especially those for non-routine maintenance and trouble shooting tasks.  Also important on the list is to conduct a risk assessment, add effective safeguarding measures, and implement best practices surrounding installation, as these will all factor in to creating a safer work environment between man and robot.

Robots without fencing or safety guarding? With new robots entering the automation industry, technologies and the different standards concerning robotics, the recurrent theme is safety. To make a long story short, there is a certain very low level of acceptable risk which has been deemed acceptable when a robot is in the same environment as a worker. This level is set by different parameters related to the severity and the occurrence probability of injury for a human worker. The robotic system and its environment, must meet certain levels of safety, before it can be considered safe enough to be collaborative.

Download the following eBook to learn more.

Key Safety Features

Safety Zones
Robots can operate in reduced mode when a human enters the robot’s work cell and then resume full speed when the operator leaves.

Variable Speeds
In other set-ups, the 6 axis robot can run at full speed inside a CNC machine, and then at reduced speed when outside.

Safety Functions
Eight safety functions are monitored by the patented safety system: joint position and speed, TCP position, orientation, speed and force, as well as the momentum and force of the robot. These settings can only be changed in a password-protected area of the software.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you implement robotics into your business accomplishing tasks with high endurance, speed and precision. John Henry Foster’s goal of providing innovative and state-of-the-art products continues to expand and now includes a range of industrial robots. Our team of experts are positioned to support your productivity and efficiency needs with this versatile product.  Please contact us today at 651.452.8452 or email us to learn more about this or any of our product offerings.

As a leading provider of premium quality compressed air and automation solutions since 1938, John Henry Foster delivers customized automation products and design-to-build solutions to clients in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and northern Iowa. Our talented and innovative employees serve customers in virtually every industry that utilizes motion control technology and power generation.

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651-452-8452 | 800-582-5162


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