Safety Devices for Industrial Robots
Improved workplace ergonomics is often cited as one of the top benefits of automating with industrial robots. Implementing the ABB 2600-20 along production lines removes workers from the safety hazards associated with many manufacturing jobs. While industrial robots can help improve the safety of your production floor they also pose new safety hazards for workers that must be safeguarded against. Most of the common safety standards for factory robots require the safeguarding of industrial robots. The best way to ensure proper safeguarding is to conduct a risk assessment to identify potential hazards, how to resolve them, and what safety devices will be needed. There are a variety of safety devices for industrial robotic arms that help keep your work floor safe. Some of the more common safety options include:
- • Fencing - Most robot manipulators require their work area to be closed off from workers. This is done with safety fencing. Safety fencing may involve a cage-like design or consist of sold barriers. They are usually several feet tall. Fencing sets the physical perimeter of the robot’s work area preventing workers from coming into contact with the industrial robotic arm while it is operating.
- • Curtains - Curtains may be installed against fencing to prevent debris form exiting the work area of the robotic manipulator. For some applications such as automated material removal, debris may arise during the robot’s operation and potentially be thrown from the work area. Curtains seal off fencing preventing potential worker injuries from loose debris.
- • Arc Glare Shield - Arc glare is a hazard specific to robotic arc welding applications. The light emitted from the arc during welding can cause serious eye damage if not safeguarded. An arc glare shield can be installed to absorb the light and prevent it form being emitted past the robot’s work area.
- • Metal Dividers - Metal dividers may also be used to protect workers from arc glare. These are usually used when a robotic welding system involves an indexing table. The divider is installed in the center of the table to block the arc and weld spray.
- • Pressurized Mats - Pressurized mats are used to stop the operation of the FANUC R-2000ib/165F and other articulated robots before a worker comes near. When a worker steps on the mat, sensors in the mat detect the person and halt the robot’s operation.
- • Light Curtains - Light curtains also help prevent people from entering a robot’s work area while operating. They emit an invisible beam that when broken stops the robot’s operation.
- • Area Scanner - An area scanner uses a similar concept as light curtains to safeguard workers with an invisible light field. When this field is broken, the manufacturing robot arm is stopped. The difference is instead of protecting a specific area like light curtains, it protects the entire workspace of an assembly robot.
- • E-Stop - The E-stop or emergency stop is a button usually located on the operator station of the workcell. It allows the operator to immediately stop a robot’s operation when pressed.
- • Dead Man Switch - The dead man switch allows for the safe programming of robots with teach pendants. When held down, the Yaskawa MH12 will move slowly during programming and will stop moving when the switch is released during programming mode.