Interlocks in robot workcell

An interlock works as a sensor in a robot workcell for permitting the work cycle sequence to continue only after the preferred conditions are satisfied. It can be used to perform the following significant functions in a robot cell:

  • It checks whether the work part is placed at the accurate location in the conveyor for allowing the robot to grasp it perfectly.
  • It specifies the work part loaded is perfect for beginning the automatic machining cycle.
  • It helps in identifying when the work cycle has been finished for continuing the next machining cycle.

There are two important categories in the interlocks such as:

  • Input interlocks – It uses a signal that is sent from a robot cell’s component to the workcell controller for specifying the conditions are satisfied and ready to begin the work cycle.
  • Output interlocks – It uses a signal that is sent from the workcell controller to a component in the robot cell for indicating the machining center to begin the automatic work cycle.

The interlocks are implemented not only to prevent the work part from inaccurate starting, but also to protect the components in the workcell from damages. In addition, the interlocks should consider the failures and irregularities that occur in the cell. If a malfunction takes place in a robot workcell, the application engineer must find out a technique to recognize the malfunction and should take a suitable solution. Subsequently, interlocks are used to obtain the series control and as well as safety monitoring in both irregular and regular work cycles.

The electronic controllers can be introduced to produce the interlock signals for the devices in the robot cell. Sometimes, the sensors (e.g. limit switches) can also be implemented in the interlocks to generate the required signals. Moreover, advanced type sensors can be used to gain more accurate performance in the work cycle.

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