VIDEO: How Conventional Robots are Becoming Collaborative
James Anderton posted on November 14, 2016 |
Fenced guarding may not be necessary for all traditional industrial robots, says industry expert.


“Collaborative” is the hot buzzword in industrial robotics these days.

Manufacturers and automation engineers want to do away with guarding and gating to save floor space and allow workers to get up close with robots without sacrificing the robots’ conventional strength and speed.

In the video above, we speak with James Cooper, VP of sales and marketing at KUKA Robotics USA, about a variety of safety features and systems that eliminate fencing and excess safety equipment.

Using proximity sensors to establish a working environment around a conventional robot, manufacturers can eliminate fenced guarding. If a human worker were to pass through several thresholds, the robot would respond by slowing down its speed to prevent injury.

Coming too close to the robot would bring it to a complete stop before the human worker could even reach it. Once the human moves away from the robot and cross the thresholds again, the robot would accelerate and resume its cycle.

“This is an example of how you can accomplish collaboration with a traditional industrial robot, which will allow higher speeds, spindle utilization and throughputs,” said Cooper.

When looking into safety measures like fenced guarding or a proximity sensor-based system like that shown above, it’s important to be clear as to the necessity of human interaction and what else may be going on in the cell, Cooper explains.

“When you have a robot tending a two-axis lathe, you don’t have human-robot interaction past an operator occasionally coming up to change machine settings or clear away some parts, but not direct involvement. However, for other applications there could be other pieces of equipment or technologies in the cell that may still require the need for guarding to protect operators.”

For more information, watch the video above and visit KUKA’s website.

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