Improving Workforce Safety Through Robotic Applications
There are many reasons why manufacturers are converting manual production process to robotic applications. One of those key reasons is to improve workforce safety. Manufacturing jobs can be dangerous, dull and dirty, posing safety and health risks to workers. From heavy lifting to hazardous materials to tough work environments, there are many threats to worker safety from manufacturing processes. Companies have recognized the need to automate these processes to protect worker safety which is why there are so many types of robotic applications today.
Some of the first robotic applications deployed in manufacturing were painting, welding, and material handling. It is not a coincidence that these first robotic applications happened to be some of the riskiest ones in terms of worker safety. Manufacturers realized replacing workers with a FANUC R-2000ib/165F could help prevent on the job injuries and worker exposure to dangerous chemicals. Implementing robotic applications not only improves workforce safety but allows workers to move from undesirable jobs to ones that maximize their skillset, boosting morale.
Robot applications are ideal for repetitive and precise processes, unlike manual methods. Repetitive bending, lifting, twisting, and crouching of material handling, material removal, and other manufacturing processes can lead to stress injuries for workers. Automating these processes by converting them over to robotic applications prevents on the job injuries caused by repetitive manufacturing tasks. A FANUC M-900ia/600 is a heavy lifting robot with the capacity to lift up to 600 kg repeatedly for material handling applications. Implementing a FANUC M-900ia for lifting applications eliminates injury risk to workers. Deploying robot applications keeps production running smoothly by preventing stoppages or delays due to work-related injuries.
While some manufacturing jobs can put workers at risk for stress fractures, muscle strains, or back pain among other forms of injury, others may lead to long-term health effects. Respiratory issues, eye damage, and even cancer can result after years of exposure to toxic fumes, arc glare, chemicals, and other debris. Painting, welding, sealing, among many other processes expose workers to these hazards. Transitioning these processes into robotic applications is significantly safer for workers and an key advantage to automating with robots. Using a FANUC Arcmate 100ic for TIG welding applications, prevents workers from being exposed to the high heat, arc, and fumes produced during welding.
In addition to removing workers from hazardous jobs, robotic applications improve workforce safety through the various safety features of industrial robots and robotic workcells. Deploying robotic applications will not pose addition safety risks to floor workers when implemented properly. All robots are built to comply with robotic safety standards to protect workers. Safety fencing is required for robots operating near humans. While collaborative robots are built with special sensors to allow for operation alongside workers. Robotic workcells are built with safety equipment to fully enclose robotic applications when in operation from floor workers. Workcells feature safety devices designed to detect, alert, and stop robot operation should a worker enter the workcell preventing adverse incidents from occurring.
Automating manufacturing processes with robot applications removes workers from unsafe positions. Workers can instead transition to more comfortable lines of work, such as monitoring or operating industrial robot applications.