Boost your cobot safety know-how with these useful resources
- Can you customize your cobot to improve safety? Yes. You can access a number software solutions as well as application kits, end effectors and more via the UR+ ecosystem.
- Why is safety important to cobots? Even though collaborative robots have several built-in safety features that allow them to work alongside humans, typically without safety barriers, it’s still wise to be sensible around any moving machinery. Performing an initial and then ongoing risk assessment is absolutely essential.
An important part of safety in manufacturing is understanding the right ways to operate and maintain your cobot. But navigating your way through all the collaborative robot safety information available online can seem daunting. Here are some of the best cobot safety and compliance resources that can help guide you on your journey.
Universal Robots (UR) pioneered the development of robot power and force limiting technology. We knew that in bringing down the barriers to automation deployment - both literally and figuratively speaking, manufacturing cobots could be deployed to work safely alongside their human colleagues.
Helping our clients maintain cobot safety standards is incredibly important. That’s why safety is embedded in every step of our process, from the risk assessment sections of the UR User Manual to UR Academy’s safety guidance to the many safety information resources available through UR Support. Safety in manufacturing and the other environments our cobots are deployed in has always been a central consideration at every step, from collaborative robot design through to robot application implementation.
Built with safety in mind
UR’s patented adjustable cobot safety system allows users to reduce the risks involved with implementing industrial robot applications like machine tending, assembly, welding and palletizing. Adjusting a range of parameters, including limiting the force, speed, power or momentum of the robot, and restricting its workspace using axis limits and safety boundaries can improve collaborative robot safety. For example, the speed of Universal Robots’ cobots can be reduced while the employee is working beside it. This makes it easier for the person to avoid bumping into the machine and, if they happen to, reduces the force, energy transfer and ultimately, risk of harm.
UR’s commitment to safety in manufacturing means achieving compliance with relevant safety standards. As a manufacturer, we do our utmost to inform our distributors and end-customers about our robots. As a result, UR leads the industry in disclosure of safety certifications and safety function details.
Seattle, Washington-based aerospace manufacturer Tool Gauge deployed a UR5 in a plastics assembly and dispensing application that involves close human-robot collaboration. The cobot’s force limiting safety system ensures that it will automatically stop operating if it encounters an obstacle.
Built-in safety resources
UR+, an ecosystem of certified UR-compatible hardware and peripherals - provides additional cobot safety solutions. These include SICK’s easy-to-use sBot Stop package - a safety laser scanner which monitors the ground level around a cobot and can detect whenever a person enters or leaves the area. sBot Stop is easily programmed using the UR Teach Pendant.
Here are some other great places on the UR website to learn about using a manufacturing cobot safely:
- ‘Safety Made Easy’ – a comprehensive summary of cobot safety topics
- ‘e-Series Safety Functions’ - explains your UR e-Series cobot’s safety functions, what they involve and what is controlled when the function is activated
- ‘Safety FAQ’ - links to essential resources and a glossary of cobot safety terms
UR partners, academic research groups, independent testing specialists, and industry bodies have also developed useful resources for learning about cobot safety. Let’s take a look at some of the best:
At Etalex in Montreal, Canada, a UR10 cobot tending a press brake slows down to 20% of production speed when the operator enters the workspace. The entry is detected by the SICK safety scanner that is connected with the UR robot.
The COVR Project
The European Union-funded COVR project is a collaboration between researchers from the Danish Technological Institute, National Research Council of Italy, Fraunhofer IFF, Roessingh Research & Development and CEA. It recently released an ambitious, free digital toolbox that acts as a central hub for information and guidance on risk assessments, safety directives and standards, and cobot safety best practice.
For beginners, COVR’s digital toolkit provides guidance on safe robot programming and how to perform a risk assessment. More expert cobot users will find it useful too, as there’s information on validation protocols, case stories from users in manufacturing, logistics and healthcare and up-to-date cobot safety-related publications.
TÜV Rheinland, a global leader in independent inspection and certification services, recently published ‘Robot Safety: An In-depth Exploration of Categories and Standards’. This new ebook on safety in manufacturing provides an overview of the standards governing the manufacture, integration and use of cobots by region.
The Support section of the UR Website hosts numerous articles designed to guide users through the steps involved in various safety-related tasks. The above screenshot is part of a guide to creating a ‘Safe Home’ routine, which enables your cobot to start automatically without using the "Automove" feature.
A3 Robotics (formerly known as the Robotics Industry Association) published its RIA TR15.606-2016 collaborative robot standard in 2016. The document explains safety requirements specific to collaborative robots and robot systems and is supplemental to the guidance in ANSI/RIA R15.06. (TR 606 is a U.S. National Adoption of ISO/TS 15066).
The A3 website is host to a broad range of resources regarding cobot safety including Cobot Safety Training and Robot Safety Standards Documents. The robot safety documents include technical reports about risk assessment (RIA TR R15.306), existing applications (RIA TR R15.506), user requirements (RIA TR R15.706) and how to measure pressures and forces of a collaborative application (RIA TR R15.806).
Aske Bach Lassen, project coordinator of COVR at the Danish Technological Institute (DTI), working with a Universal Robots cobot. Credit: DTI
Safely integrating cobots into your operations
It’s never too early to think about safety. So, whether you’re curious about industrial robotics or collaborative applications – as an end-user or an experienced integrator, these resourceswe have a range of resources that can help guide you through the principles and practice of cobot safety and compliance.
Ready to talk cobot safety with one of our experts? Click here.