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Updating the R15.06 Robot Safety Standard

POSTED 09/07/2011  | By: Jeff Fryman, Director, Standards Development

g width="150" height="252" align="right" alt="Jeff Fryman, Director, Standards Development" border="1" vspace="10" hspace="10" src="/userassets/riauploads/Jeff-Fryman_200.jpg" />In my last article, I discussed the publication of the new ISO 10218-1 and 10218-2 standards.  These two standards used the ANSI/RIA R15.06-1999 as their seed document; thus making the requirements from the 1999 United States standard applicable world-wide.  The ISO standards are packaged differently – two documents addressing industrial robots separate from the industrial robot systems and integration; whereas the R15.06 document treats both topics in one book.  Thus the challenge before the R15.06 drafting committee is now bringing those two ISO documents back together in one US book, and adding any unique US requirements.

Concurrently the Canadian Standards Association’s Z434 committee is working in cooperation with the R15.06 committee to harmonize the requirements in North America; and publish a single standard that encompasses the unique requirements of both countries.

International standards are written to address requirements to the product manufacturers and suppliers, which includes requirements for “information for use”.  This information for use is intended to be instructions and guidance for the safe use of the machinery, but is not written in “normative” form to the user of the equipment.  We typically claim that North American standards are also written to the “user”.  We believe that is the case with the R15.06 and Z434.  More than that, we believe that by assigning responsibilities to stakeholders at all level of involvement with a robot system – robot manufacturer, supplier, safety component supplier, integrator, installer and user – that the end user is assured of proper support for a safe and productive robot work cell.

Now that the technical requirements of the ISO standard are “firmed up”, the committees have set about to find what guidance to the “user” is missing or needed.  In presenting a combined R15.06/Z434/ISO 10218 document, the unique or added requirements will be appropriately annotated.  In looking at the added information to date, it appears most of the material has to do with assigning responsibilities to the user to actually make use of the information provided by the manufacturer and supplier to develop good work practices and training programs for the operators.  In fact, we will be adding a whole additional clause to the standard on training.

The other project is updating and including the annexes from the current R15.06/Z434 and adding them to the overall document.  This includes culling information from a number of ISO references so that the new R15.06/Z434 will provide specific guidance for requirements, rather than a general reference to another ISO standard as is the practice in ISO documents.  This specific guidance may be placed in the normative text of the document, or in some cases this will be additions to the annexes.

The very successful risk assessment methodology introduced in the R15.06 and subsequently the Z434 is being updated.  This suggested methodology should be a very important annex to the standard, since risk assessment National Robot Safety Conference XXIIIwill no longer be optional, though the methodology selected will be.
Interested in learning more?  Join us for the National Robot Safety Conference, September 19 – 21 in Knoxville, TN.  More details on the conference, including sessions, tabletop trade fair, registration, hotel information and more, can be found at http://www.robotics.org/safety11 or call RIA at 734/994-6088. Be sure to register for and attend the conference!