Techman Robot automating a packaging plant with gripper technology.

Human-Robot Collaboration (HRC) and Safety

Industries That Use HRC

A wide range of industries use human-robot collaboration. For example, pick-and-place is a commonly seen HRC manufacturing process. However, surprisingly, many industries use HRC. Industries that use collaboration include but are not limited to:

  • Agriculture
  • Automation
  • Breweries
  • Energy
  • Manufacturing
  • Medical
  • Technology
  • Transportation

For example, robots find themselves in doctor’s offices. Often imaging and radiation procedures utilize robots to assist a physician in diagnosing a problem.

Robot in a doctor's office - human-robot collaboration

What Applications Require Human-Robot Collaboration?

Many applications are best accomplished through robot use alone or combined with human-robot collaboration. Often, robots hand-off products once they have been handled or changed by the robot. In fact, hand-off procedures occur often in production areas when a final product comprises of individual parts.

Other applications that human-robot collaboration helps with:

  • Pick-and-place
  • Injection Molding
  • CNC
  • Machine Tending
  • Screw Driving
  • Lab Analysis & Testing
  • Packaging & Palletizing
  • Quality Inspection
  • Assembly
  • Polishing, Gluing, Dispensing & Welding

How To Make a Human-Robot Collaboration Space

You may find that it is in your best interest to create a dedicated space to house instances of collaboration. These spaces allow you to include safety measures built into the space that protects your employees. This space may also let your robot move around and switch from one function to the next.

What Features Ensure Human Safety?

Many features built into robots these days inherently ensure employee safety. In fact, engineers build collaborative robots specifically with human safety in mind. On the other hand, other industrial robots must be changed and guarded to ensure human safety.

For now, let’s talk about collaborative robots. We will talk about industrial robots shortly in the next section.

Collaborative robots have many safety functions that ensure they aren’t a threat to humans. These features include power and force limiting, hand guiding, stopped state monitoring, safety zones, and variable speeds. Read more on these in our article on collaborative robot safety.

Safety Precautions To Take

Finally, if you use an industrial robot, taking specific safety precautions protects your employees involved in various processes. Collaboration spaces allow you to set specific distances that stop employees from coming within reach of a robot. In addition, safety fencing included in collaboration spaces keeps humans from robots.

Finally, collaboration spaces often utilize sensory technology. This technology triggers a robot to pause and stop when sensors detect a human presence. Even more, emergency safety parts and stops applied outside the workspace helps prevent an unnecessary robot versus human interaction.

While this information can get you started on creating your human-robot collaboration process, JHFoster recommends that customers perform a ‘risk assessment’ to ensure that safety standards are met. We also encourage you to keep this one thing in mind: Safety depends on the process as well as the robot. For example, if you give a cobot a knife, it’s no longer safe, and you need to take additional measures such as guarding.

Download our guide on HRC and Safety, and share with anyone who you think would benefit from this information!

Contact JHFoster’s robotic specialists to learn more about how you can ensure the safety of your employees while they collaborate with a robot. We can be reached at 800.582.5162 or email us.