by Jeff Fryman , Director, Standards Development
Robotic Industries Association
The big international news getting all the buzz this month is obviously the London Olympics. The big national robot news is that the 2012 edition of R15.06 is in the final stage for ANSI approval. For those of us working on the revision process for over ten years, it almost feels like the last leg of a marathon race. The finish line is in sight, and if you join us for the September National Robot Safety Conference you might actually be there when we cross it.
Shortly after the ANSI/RIA R15.06-1999 was approved, we shifted our standards development efforts to updating the international standard, which was then ISO 10218:1992. It had a similar topic – robot safety – but hardly a similar set of requirements. The “seed” document we used for the international revision was actually the 1999 edition of R15.06, but divided it into two parts, one for the robot manufacturer, and one for the integration, installation and use. These two parts have become ISO 10218-1:2011 and ISO 10218-2:2011, and have been adopted as harmonized standards in Europe.
With the success of “globalizing” the safety requirements from R15.06, the challenge became adopting an international standard to be our national standard and thus “close the loop” on having globally accepted safety requirements worldwide. Our Canadian colleagues are also on board with this effort and we expect to see the Z434 revised to adopt the ISO requirements as well. That will mean that systems designed and built in one country can be freely moved to other countries and be compliant. Adopting the international standard means almost no changes to our ongoing expectations for robot safety, but does introduce some new capabilities as a result of the ever changing technical improvements.
Every robot system is different and has its own unique requirements for safeguarding personnel working with the system. In recognition of that, the integrator in now responsible to conduct a risk assessment of each system to determine the hazard associated with tasks and mitigate against them. Dozens of risk assessment methodologies are available, including the methodology found in the 1999 standard. We anticipate providing an updated version of this methodology during the transition period from the 1999 edition to the 2012 edition.
A new technology being introduced is “safety-rated soft axis and space limiting”. This feature, available only on new robots, has different names from each of the manufacturers. But the functionality is the same. Safety-rated software is used to control the robot motion so the restricted space can be more flexibly designed. Case studies presented at the National Robot Safety Conference have suggested savings in factory floor space on the order of 30 to 40 percent; and cost savings in system designs in excess of $100,000.00.
Another new feature, also available only with new robots and purposely built new robot systems is the introduction of man reintroduced to the loop of active interaction during automatic robot operation. Called “collaborative operation” systems can be designed for the operator to directly load/unload the robot; or manually drive the robot to a selected location eliminating costly fixtures.
Standards developing efforts will now shift to providing new documents providing guidance on using the new R15.06 such as unique requirements for compliance with our national occupational safety requirements; aids to risk assessment; and aids to properly position and implement safeguarding robot systems. Most of these documents will be directed to the “user”.
I invite you to learn more about industrial robot safety and the new 2012 R15.06 document by attending RIA’s 24th annual National Robot Safety Conference, September 24th to 26th in Indianapolis, Indiana. We have a complete program that highlights important features and requirements in the new standard presented by some of the key persons responsible for it.
Details on the conference, including sessions, tabletop trade fair, registration, hotel information and more, can be found at http://www.robotics.org/safety12 or call RIA at 734/994-6088. You will meet some of the marathon runners involved in this effort to provide the latest in global industrial robot safety. Be sure to register and join us!
Read the article at Robotics Online.