Safety AND productivity? Enabling productive cooperation between humans and robots

More industrial production facilities, including increasing numbers of small and medium manufacturing companies, have understood that robot applications provide an effective solution to automation challenges. The trend towards human-machine cooperation is growing rapidly, and trust in the reliability and safety of cooperative robot applications is necessary. SICK supports users from all industries during implementation and opens the door to safe productivity with its comprehensive turnkey portfolio of complete safety systems and services.

There is such thing as a safe robot, only safe robot applications. To enable humans to intervene in cooperative robot applications, they must be able to always rely on protection from potential harm. The aim is to consider the entire robot application – the robot with its end effector, the equipment, and the object that it carries. Analyzing and eliminating any residual risks in the specific application is the task of safety experts because a cobot is only ever inherently safe.

Complete Safety Solutions

SICK not only supports the automation industry during this process with its broad portfolio of hardware and software components to complete safety systems, but also is a service provider for consulting and engineering. Through a close collaboration with the customer, this ensures a safe robot application for optimal work processes and reduced downtimes. Since the systems can be easily adapted to the specific robot application and manufacturing environment, the automation solutions simultaneously deliver greater flexibility and future-proof functionality.

Risk Assessment for a safe start

When creating freely accessible cooperative robot applications, there must be an initial comprehensive risk assessment. Robot manufacturers, system integrators, and system operators need to first determine the machine limits and identify potential hazards. Then, the more than 250 certified safety experts worldwide at SICK provide support and advice in assessing and evaluating these limits and hazards, and suggest risk-reducing measures. In doing so, the requirements of the Machinery Directive and binding international standards such as ISO 10 218-2 / TS 15066 prescribe the required level of protection for safe human-machine cooperation.

Protection using a SICK safety system

The next step is to create the safety concept. To do this, the team of experts define the protection goals and select suitable risk-reducing measures for optimal safety and productivity. Once all safety functions tailored to the work processes and machine functions have been defined, the specific safety design is produced. SICK offers complete Safe Robotics Area Protection systems, such as sBot Stop and sBot Speed, to suit specific applications. They involve a safety laser scannersafety light curtain or safety multibeam sensor that brings the robot to a safe stop or to a safe reduced speed when approached. Flexi Soft safety controllers ensure a safe communication between the external device and the robot controller. This system offers a guaranteed performance level (PL) d, meaning a high safety level can be reliably achieved.

 Finally, easy installation and commissioning of the preselected hardware and software components, and pre-configuring and testing of functional logic saves users time and money. In the last step, the application is verified and validated and receives the “VERIFIED SAFETY” quality seal from SICK.

Providing training and trust

Safety training offerings at all levels help ensure lasting trust in the new robotic colleagues and increase the safety competency within the company. Specialists from all departments of the company can expand their know-how through progressive training courses from “Basic” to a “Safety Expert” certificate either directly on site, via online classrooms, or in the Sensor Intelligence Academy.

With its broad and varied turnkey solutions portfolio, SICK is helping create robot applications that can be freely and productively accessed and, by reducing complexity, are making the industrial robot world safer.

Want to learn more about SICK safety solutions? Contact a SICK representative today!