Better Safety Practices for Cobot Operations
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Since the birth of automation, robotics safety has been on the mind of manufacturers. When added to human workcells, cobot safety is crucial. The speed of a collaborative robot arm and the weight of its payload can put workers at serious risk. Fortunately, manufacturers have developed solutions to keep human workers safe.
Imagine a large, bulky appliance hurtling straight towards you, threatening serious harm to your body. Many cobot arms would be capable of that kind of force if safety mechanisms weren’t put in place. Is your facility thinking about adding collaborative robots? Even if you already have them, protect your staff by reviewing the following risks.
Know Potential Risks and Robotics Safety
In many ways, collaborative robots have reduced job hazards. But if implementers make mistakes, cobots can be dangerous. It’s important to train employees on the risks. Workers shouldn't assume that cobot safety isn’t their concern or else they could end up in dangerous situations. Humans should avoid unnecessary contact with cobots. This is especially important when they don’t know how the cobot will react.
To identify the risks, facility managers should perform a risk assessment. This may have been overlooked during implementation. It's important to revisit risk assessments when making changes to a workcell. Just because it was safe in the past, that doesn’t mean it’s safe now. Glancing at the workcell during normal operation isn’t enough. Review all possible scenarios.
End effectors play an important part in a risk assessment. Because of the number of end effectors available, manufacturers can’t test them all. An end effector adds new capabilities and its own requirements for robotics safety. Objects held by a cobot always have a risk of falling. Are your workers protected both in and around the workcell?
Employ Cobot Safety Best Practices
Not only can you make cobots safer, but best practices can also protect employees. Hand guiding collaborative robots during training allows for speed and force monitoring. This ensures a safe teaching process. During training, the operator manages robotics safety. So, it’s important to be aware of one’s environment.
To safeguard a collaborative workspace, use safety area scanners and mats. These systems detect the presence of humans and equipment. The cobot can then slow or stop when needed. Having a shutoff nearby is often adequate for a stoppage. But some workcells have a switch that requires pressure at all times to operate the cobot.
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