Collaborative robots have grown in popularity and acceptance in manufacturing companies as they usher the industry into a new era. The era of human and robots working together rather than separately. The era of flexibility, accuracy and high quality products and faster adaptability to consumer preferences and market changes.
Collaborative robots used in robot assembly by the numerous manufacturing companies are categorized into four according to the International Standards Organization, ISO 10218. These categories are: Power and Force Limiting, hand guiding, speed and separation and safety monitored stop.
Collaborative robots that fall in this category are considered the safest collaborative robots for any factory to have. They can work alongside human workers without the risk of causing an accident in the factory. They do not require vision capabilities or caging. They are the ultimate collaborative robot.
Why is this so?
The answer to this question and the reason for this categorization lies in their design and safety features. Cobots in this category are designed with round edges and are completely smoothened. In addition, they are padded to ensure that the impact of an accident is minimal.
Further, these cobots have different types of super sensitive sensors that prevent accidents. These sensors have the ability to detect and predict a collision forcing the cobot to stop before it comes into contact with anything or anyone. These sensors are implanted in the cobots, giving them the capability to comfortably collaborate with human workers without the need for external attachments for this capabilities.
As the name suggests, this category represents collaborative robots that can be taught how to perform certain tasks using hand motions.
This happens especially when there is an urgent need to reprogram the cobot to perform a certain task. The worker holds the cobot and guides it through the correct positions of completing a particular task successfully.
Cobots in this category save time when it comes to programming enabling the factory to run continuously with minimal downtime.
It is important that cobot operators observe safety at all times especially when hand guiding a cobot without power and force limiting features.
Collaborative robots in this category are usually not in frequent contact with human workers. Safety monitored robots usually are large industrial robots that work independently but also require human input for their work to be successfully completed.
Robots in this category are affixed with an external senor that identifies when a human worker is in its working area. When it detects a human in its working area it will stop immediately to reduce any risk of accidents occurring. It will not start up until the human operator starts it by pressing a button for it to resume working.
Collaborative robots in this category are similar to those in the safety monitored stop category. The only difference is that, these robots have frequent interaction with human workers in the factory.
Just like those in the previous category they are also fitted with external apertures for vision and sensors. Unlike the safety monitored stop cobot, this cobot has two levels of security for the human operator working with it.
The first level can be described as a warning zone. When it detects a human worker in its warning zone, the robot slows down its activity.
The second level is the stop zone. When a human operator gets into the stop zone, the robot automatically stops operating.
Unlike the safety monitored stop cobot, this cobot resumes operation as soon as the human operator exits the stop zone.
As you can see, these cobot types are categorized on how safe they are to be used as collaborative robots. It is important for all companies that use robots to ensure that they know what risks they pose to their human workers and engage them appropriately by ensuring the correct safety standards are maintained.