Are Collaborative Robots Safe?

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

Although an industrial robot will better the ergonomic conditions in a production area, there is a concern that the robot will create an unsafe work environment. We’re not talking about the human-looking, talking variety of robots – not yet, at least. The robots that are working in many Minnesota companies today have arms and grippers. These robots are helping humans and working alongside them. In addition, manufacturers are considering the advantages of robotics and other automation. They hope to increase productivity and enhance workplace safety.

However, these days, robots are proving to be safer in avoiding injuries to humans and causing less mistakes. In addition, following safety standards also leads to overall safety success. Experts create these to keep humans safe alongside cobots.

Questions such as these may arise when considering using robotic automation:

  • What makes a robot safe?
  • Are these technologies changing faster than the safety standards?
  • How can we benefit from them while keeping workers safe?
  • 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. In the beginning, traditional fenced robots had their boundaries. However, the rise of collaborative robots demanded better safety features. These features would allow the robots to work with humans. In today’s times, collaborative robots are made with some of the best safety technology the world has to offer. In fact, three safety features leading the way towards a safer tomorrow include:

Power and Force Limiting:

Restricting the amount of force available in the system. This is done 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 letting humans to freely guide and program without the risk of harm.

Stopped State Monitoring/Safety Zones:

Technology that lets the robot slow down or stop when detecting a human too close. As a result, this lowers the chance of impact or injury.

Other key factors for ensuring safety include taking a close look at safety procedures, especially those for maintenance and troubleshooting. Also, important on the list is conducting a risk assessment, add effective safeguarding measures, and implement best practices for installation. Analyzing these factors helps create a safer work environment between man and robot.

Have you noticed robots without fencing or safety guarding? With new robots entering the automation industry, new technologies and different work 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 decided as acceptable when a robot is in the same area as a worker. Different guidelines set this level related to severity and 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. This is what truly makes collaborative robots safe.

Key Safety Features

Safety Zones

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

Variable Speeds

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

Safety Functions

The patented safety system monitors eight safety functions: 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.

In summary, collaborative robots are safe to work alongside.

Contact us to find out how we can help you use robotics to simply your business tasks. JHFOSTER’s goal of providing innovative and state-of-the-art products continues to grow. In addition, we now have a range of industrial robots and robotic accessories. Our team of experts are ready to support your productivity and efficiency needs with this flexible product. Please contact us today at 651.452.8452 or email one of our experts to learn more about this or any of our products.

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