Pilz India & Machine Safety In Robotics

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Robotic adoptions in various industries will continue to witness an exponential rise. And when this happens, machine builders and plant must conduct a thorough risk assessment to identify potential hazards. PILZ INDIA offers comprehensive safety services throughout the entire machine lifecycle, including risk assessment, safety concept, safety design, safety implementation and safety validation along with compliance services like CE marking and UL certification, explains Dhiraj Podutwar, Business Development Manager, PILZ INDIA in an interview with Engineering Review. PILZ INDIA is a one-stop shop for safety consulting, engineering and training globally. Excerpts:

Q. What are the key safety considerations when integrating robotics into a manufacturing environment in different industries?

Robotic adoptions in various industries will continue to witness an exponential rise. Moreover, factories and plants look at humans and robots working together to increase efficiency and productivity. With robots and collaborative robots, the need for safety is also increasing. Machine builders and factory operators need to ensure that the machine design complies with the relevant safety standards, such as ISO 10218-2 (Robot and Robotic devices – Safety requirement for industrial robots.), ISO 13849 (performance levels for robotic installations, e.g. Cat 3 PL d for Safety-related parts of control system), and ISO/TS 15066 (Collaborative Robot and robotic devices- Collaborative robots).

Most importantly, the machine builder and plant need to conduct a thorough risk assessment to identify potential hazards for robot application usage. Pilz India offers comprehensive safety services throughout the entire machine lifecycle, including risk assessment, safety concept, safety design, safety implementation, and safety validation along with compliance services like CE marking and UL certification. We evaluate the system and provide the machine and plant operators the best possible solution. Our safety solutions offering consists of Identification and access management (IAM) considering only authorized personnel shall access robot systems, safety gate systems, and safety control systems for robust robot environment. We also offer plants with LoTo systems, continuous inspection of safeguards, and machinery safety evaluation to ensure safe operations on the shop floor.

Q. How do you approach risk assessments for robotic systems? Can you walk us through the process you follow?

We collaborate with plant operators and follow a risk assessment process following multiple standards. We visit the plant or the factory and understand various hazards and analyze them. Pilz experts identify and categorize hazards in various segments such as mechanical, control, electrical and ergonomic hazards. Usually, vendors do not cover ergonomic hazards; Pilz, thus, provides complete coverage on hazard segregation and identification. Depending on application requirements, the safety standards can vary – ISO 12100 specifies General principles for design – Risk assessment, and risk reduction, and 10218-2 specifies requirements and guidelines for the protective measures for the use of industrial robots.

With a futuristic view of the possible enforcement of machinery regulations from January 2027, we need to cover all the security aspects, which include unauthorized access, data manipulations, data corruption and unauthorized program changes.

Vulnerabilities such as open USB ports, analyzing security threats, and possible data corruption in the machinery are part of the security assessment. Subsequently Pilz can support an initial and detailed risk assessment on IACS for security assessment. This helps plants use machinery which are not only safe but also secure from cyber threats.

Q. What are some common safety standards and regulations that apply to robotics, and how do you ensure compliance robot standards in your work?

Robots are critical components from a safety perspective, and a machine, factory, or plant must comply with many standards and regulations while implementing them. ISO 10218-2 is a standard that users or integrators need to comply with, whereas 10218-1 is managed by the robot manufacturer. ISO 12100 is also a standard essential for the users from risk assessment and risk reduction point of view. When robots are implemented inside the factory or plant, they might need to be guarded by safety fences. These safeguards need to comply with ISO 14120. On the other hand, while implementing interlocking switches and pneumatics, the users need to comply with ISO 14119 and ISO 4414 and ISO 13849 safety standards, respectively. With light barriers/curtains where products move in and out passing the light barrier, it is essential to comply with ISO 13855 standards. We train and educate the users on the use of work equipment and follow recommendations in risk assessments. We urge users to follow proper safety guidelines and take care while adding components to existing systems to ensure that the existing safety measures are sufficient even after adding the new components, and if not, then we recommend that risk assessment should be carried out again.

Q. When designing safety systems for collaborative robots (collaborative robots), what factors do you consider ensuring safe interaction with human operators?

Over the past years, the use of collaborative robots in manufacturing has drastically increased. The two major standards that define the safe use of collaborative robots are ISO 10218-2, and ISO/TS15066. While performing risk assessment on collaborative robots it is essential to ensure safe distance for operation between robots and humans. Safe standstill and human-guided arm motions, speed & separation monitoring and power & force limiting are also important elements in collaborative robot operation in a plant. When designing safety systems with collaborative robots, during contact, the forces need to be limited, and the values must comply with the human body model. At Pilz, we validate different safety measures in the machine with collaborative robots, including visual inspection, functional test, practical test, document review, SRPC validation and review of overall technical documentation for the application. We focus on what assets needs to be protected like operator, maintenance staff, persons responsible for teaching machinery etc. to make sure they interact with the system safely.

Q. In your view, what role does training and education play in ensuring the effective use of robot systems?

At Pilz, we believe that training and education play a vital role in implementing safety in machines and plants. We provide regular training and run various campaigns to raise awareness about specific standards, laws, and regulations specific to the region, industry, or applications. We help users to prove compliance of applications with a safety standard and provide guidelines on best standard practices while using robots and collaborative robots in a plant. Our training programs are handled by safety and security certified experts with years of experience in handling systems, helping users with identifying and analyzing the limits of machines and identifying hazards. We also help users to eliminate identified risks. Moreover, based on our evaluations we support users with gaining knowledge of various standards and how they can help in mitigating risks. Training also helps users to understand the various protective devices available in the market which can be useful to reduce risk to an acceptable level. Most importantly, training helps a user identify legal requirements as well as current best industry practices.

Q. How do you communicate the importance of machine safety to stakeholders who may prioritize production efficiency over safety measures?

Training and education are our primary platforms for communicating the importance of machinery safety. We additionally build awareness among our users about legal requirements and the consequences if incidents with robots occur in a plant. The risk for the machine supplier and the plant is very high with robots and collaborative robots. The robot standard clearly specifies all risks, with a detailed list of hazards available in the ISO 10218-2 standard. We provide users with insights on possible workplace harm and injury if they do not integrate safety into their systems. Moreover, we also highlight possible challenges in the event of an unfortunate incident in their plant. Our training, awareness campaigns, and webinars are perfect for users to build their safety and security knowledge. We have a complete training module for robot-related training with exclusive information about hazards by a robot system and their mitigation with protective devices. We ensure that safety implementations are effective, efficient and a cost-effective affair. We ensure high productivity with our safety solutions without compromising the production process. Finally, we stand by ALARP, which is “As low as reasonably practicable,” ALARP involves weighing the risk against the sacrifice needed to further reduce it. The decision is weighted in favour of health and safety because the presumption is that the duty-holder should implement the risk reduction measure.

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