Cobot Safety

Thanks to technological advancements, robots are now able to work alongside operators in close proximities, safely. While traditional industrial robots are bound to an enclosed cell, Cobots have features which limit their power and force to suitable levels so that they do not inflict harm.

Generally, Cobots are safe straight out of the box, providing they are operated within their safety limits. This is however, until you want to apply them in a real-world scenario and deliver actual value as this requires the use of end-of-arm tooling (EOAT) and other surrounding accessories, calling for a safety reassessment.

Every businesses’ operations vary in one way or another which ultimately affects the safety configuration of the final solution, there may even be scenarios where some of the Cobot’s safety features are sacrificed for performance, requiring an alternative safety solution.

Cobot HRC

How is Cobot Safety Defined?

Guidance for Cobot safety can be found within ISO/TS 15066, this is a technical report produced by the International Organisation for Standardisation and provides information for collaborative industrial robot systems in the work environment. ISO/TS 15066 was introduced to supplement ISO 10218-1 and ISO 10218-2 which apply to industrial robotic systems. It doesn’t apply to non-industrial robots, although the safety principles it presents are useful guidance to other areas of robotics.

Our Safety Steps

Safety is a critical part of Cobot integration and paramount to operational success. With experience integrating Cobots for some of the UK’s largest manufacturers across a variety of industries, Reeco are experts in configuring safety solutions for Cobot applications. Defining the safety parameters and requirements for each station allows us to configure a safety solution which still enables you to get the most out of your Cobot.

  • Safety Concept – We develop detailed technical solutions for the safety of your Cobot application through mechanical, electronic and organisational measures.
  • Safety Design – A detailed planning of the necessary protective measures reduces / eliminates the danger zones of an application.
  • Compliance – We ensure conformity with the official requirements such as CE marking in Europe.
  • Risk assessment – We review your Cobot application in accordance with the applicable national standards and directives and assess exiting hazards.
  • Validation – Specialists review and analyse the risk assessment and safety concept and perform collision measurements in accordance with the limit values laid out in ISO/TS 15066
  • System Integration – The results of the risk assessment and safety concept are implemented to suit the requirements through selected safety measures.

Safety Solutions

Force, speed and reach are some of the key functional areas of Cobots and need to be carefully assessed to ensure the safety of an application. When equipped with additional technologies which can detect breaches of the collaborative workspace, Cobots are often allowed to operate at higher speeds, allowing manufacturers to increase throughput when the collaborative space is clear

Open Space Safety Solutions

Open area safety solutions are typically used for stations that require a level of human robot interaction. This interaction between human and robot is often referred to as ‘human-robot collaboration’ (HRC), however as suggested by KUKA (here), HRC covers a broader range of possibilities such as coexistence, cooperation and collaboration. The extent of an operators interaction with the Cobot determines which open area safety solution is better suited and how it should be configured.

Safety Scanners

Safety Mats

Safety ScannersĀ are programmable safety devices that can be used more flexibly to predetermine the full operation, collaborative and stop zones of an application. Utilising a safety scanner allows the applications safety to be precisely programmed around a manufacturers requirements and adjusted where required. Scanners also take up no additional floor space as they can be mounted to the robotics base and programmed to exclude surrounding equipment which may be in breach of collaborative zones.

Safety mats are pressure-sensitive safeguarding devices that are designed to detect the presence of workers or passers-by. They allow the Cobot to stop or slow during a person’s presence depending on the requirements of the application, making them a effective tool when considering available safety options.

Limited Access Safety Solutions

Limited access safety solutions are used where an application is gated or limited in its access, but has an opening where safety is required. Typically, these solutions are for applications where performance is key, often resulting in the sacrifice of some of the Cobot’s safety features in favour of an alternative safety solution.

Light Curtains

Safety light curtains, or safety light screens, are used in a variety of industrial applications as an alternative to more traditional machine guarding. Light curtains transmit infrared light between two heads creating an electro-sensitive barrier which detects movement and if movement detected within this zone the stop function will initiate and automatically disable the application.

Have an application you’re unsure about? As Cobot integration specialists we can help determine the possible from the impractical.