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JUL-AUG 2017

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INTECH JULY/AUGUST 2017 21 FACTORY AUTOMATION FAST FORWARD l Research predicts by 2020 factories and businesses will have more than 40,000 collaborative robots. l Collaborative robots employ technology that enables safe contact with humans, improving productivity. l Appropriate risk assessments and workspace planning is required for safe collaborative operation. what we mean by collaborative robotics. Col- laborative robotic applications are intended to optimize the use of human workers and robots, using both to their greatest advantage. The ca- pability becomes important when attempting to automate processes that include delicate or compliant materials, for instance, which are dif- ficult for robots to handle. In a collaborative ro- bot system, we gain the benefit of the strength and precision of the robot, together with the creative problem solving, flexibility, and sensi- tivity of the human operator. This approach is certainly gaining momen- tum. An ABI Research study predicts the collab- orative robotics market will surge to $1 billion by 2020, populating factories and businesses with more than 40,000 collaborative robots. While a key selling point for these robots is their ability to work side by side with humans, typically with- out fencing or guarding, care must still be taken to ensure safety. What the industry calls a "col- laborative robot" (sometimes termed a "cobot") is simply one that is designed for use in a collab- orative workspace. These robots are designed to have safe contact with humans through the implementation of safety features of the robot or the control system, such as power and force limiting (PFL). These types of robots are typical ly made from lightweight materials, have force and torque sensing in their joints, and may have soft, padded skins or rounded corners. But despite how the robot was designed or marketed, its actual use might not be safe for collaborative operation if appropriate risk as- sessments have not been performed, and if the workspace has not been carefully planned and integrated. Some tasks are simply not well suit- ed for collaborative operation, even if the robot performing the task is PFL and is marketed as a collaborative robot. For example, it is important to remember that the robot arm by itself cannot do any work. The robot system or workstation also includes the end effector, the workpiece, and the presence of other robots or equipment in a cell. All these fac- tors and more must be considered when com- panies plan for a safe, collaborative robot sys- tem. A robot that is operating a welding torch or is moving razor-sharp sheets of metal presents significant opportunities for injury if people are in close proximity. In this example, the robot system as a whole—including the workpiece, end effector, and so on—is not appropriate for collaborative operation, regardless of whether the robot arm itself is a "collaborative" type. When using a robot designed for collabora- tive use, safety standards require companies to complete a risk assessment and mitigate any risks identified in the system. The highly antici - pated technical specification for collaborative robotics was released in February 2016. ISO/TS 15066:2016 Robots and Robotic Devices – Col - laborative Robots provides data-driven guide- lines for designers, integrators, and users of human-robot collaborative systems on how to evaluate and mitigate risks. (The full technical specification is available at the Robotic Indus - tries Association [RIA] bookstore.) Four methods of collaborative operation Under the ANSI/RIA 15.06 and ISO 10218 har- monized robot safety standards and the new TS 15066, there are four methods of collaborative operation that reflect different use scenarios: l Safety-rated monitored stop l Hand guiding l Speed and separation monitoring l Power and force limiting These tend to be the most misunderstood aspects of human-robot collaboration. It is important to gain a thorough understanding Scott Fetzer Electrical Group in Tennessee has installed Universal Robots' UR5 and UR10 collaborative robot arms on the assembly line. The robots work in tandem with employees, picking up parts at the end of the line for wire cutting and outbound conveyor placement.

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