Traffic Light Safety Solution

Some of the most common safety solutions when it comes to Cobots are safety mats and scanners due to their effectiveness and simplicity. In our latest demonstration of Cobot safety we showcased the effectiveness of integrating a safety scanner into a Cobot application, using a traffic light display which was integrated into our RB850 Robotics Base to visualise operational status when the collaborative zone is breached. Coupled with an Omron TM12 Cobot, the Keyence SZ-015 safety scanner allowed us to program a collaborative zone and a stop zone based on a person’s proximity to the station.

Cobots are designed to be collaborative and share human workspaces, this makes them unique due to their ability to be extremely flexible and versatile whilst working in a shared environment. Cobots are becoming increasingly popular with manufacturers as they promote productivity increases when applied to repetitive tasks whilst allowing the manufacturer to benefit from integrated safety features.

Though Cobots already have a number of safety features straight out of the box, such as collision detection and minimised pinch points due to their rounded edges and light weight frame, additional safety measures must be considered for each application. ISO/TS 15066:2016 specifies the safety requirements for collaborative industrial systems and the work environment, and supplements the requirements and guidance on collaborative industrial robot operation given in ISO 10218-1 and 10218-2.

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.

Selecting the correct safety method is paramount to the seamless integration of an application as an appropriate safety solution can allow for optimum process efficiency. Safety mats and scanners are some of the more common safety solutions used for Cobots due to their effectiveness and simplicity.

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 persons presence depending on the requirements of the application, making them an effective tool when considering available safety options.

Safety scanners 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.