What to Know About Industrial Robot Safety

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One of the most commonly cited reasons for implementing robotic automation is to improve the safety of a manufacturing operation. It is true that automating with the FANUC Arcmate 120ic and other industrial robots creates a safer work environment for employees as it removes them from performing dangerous or hazardous jobs. However, factory robots are powerful, fast machines and because of this they can pose new safety concerns for your work environment. Understanding safety standards, performing risk assessments, and properly safeguarding your robotic systems are all steps that can be taken to protect employees and ensure the safe operation of robot manipulators.

Safety Standards

Reviewing and understanding the safety standards set by the robotic industry is a good starting point. The industry has set standards to protect workers and to ensure the safe design and installation of manufacturing robot arms. These standards are updated every few years to keep up with the ever advancing robotic technology.

  • • ISO 10218 - This is the safety standard set by the International Standards Organization (ISO) and has been adopted worldwide. It sets safety guidelines for designing industrial robot arms, operational requirements, and practices for the safe use of robotic manipulators.

  • • ISO/TS 15066:2016 - This is the ISO safety standard for collaborative robots. It specifies safety guidelines specific to collaborative robot systems.

  • • ANSI/RIA R15.06-2012 - This standard is the one primarily used in the United States as it was developed by the American National Standards Institute and the Robotic Industries Association. This safety standard has been adopted from the ISO version to ensure US robotic systems follow international standards. It outlines safety practices for the manufacture and integration of robotic systems.

Risk Assessment

While the majority of industrial robotic arms are built to ISO and ANSI/RIA safety standards, a risk assessment is still needed to properly plan and ensure the safe operation of an articulated robot. Although the Yaskawa HP20D is built to ISO regulations it does not take into account for potential hazards within a factory that could threaten the safety of employees. Both the ISO and ANSI outline steps to take in order to conduct a thorough risk assessment. During a risk assessment potential hazards are identified along with a plan to prevent such issues from occurring. Prior to operating an six axis robot, a risk assessment should be performed. During it users should set limits for the industrial robot, identify hazards, develop ways to reduce those hazards, practice hazard reduction methods, verify hazards have been mitigated, and document all steps taken. It is also good practice to routinely re-evaluate risk assessments after a robot has been running. Regular risk assessments help users stay on top of changes and potential new hazards. Users will also be able to evaluate the robot status for any potential maintenance requirements, keeping the work environment safe and the robot in optimal condition.

Safeguarding Robotic Systems

During a risk assessment you will also be bale to identify what safety devices your robotic system will require. Properly safeguarding the ABB 2600 or another industrial robot with safety equipment significantly reduces the likelihood of accidents and further protects workers. Safety devices can monitor the robot work area as well as slow or shut down the robot should workers enter the robot’s space.

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