Safety in robot work cell layout

In a robot cell layout, several safety measures can be implemented for protecting the human operators from physical damages. Some of them are:

  • Constructing physical barriers between robot and human workers.
  • Emergency stop buttons.
  • Laying out the equipment within the work cell.

One of the commonly used safety measures in a work cell layout is constructing a physical barrier around the robot. Most importantly, the barrier must cover the full reach of robot end effector. It must also allow the robot to handle any equipment within the work cell, while performing an operation.

The main purpose for building a barrier is to avoid the human operators from entering the surrounding area of a robot, while it is performing. The barrier has a gate attached to it in which the workers use to access the work cell. An interlock device is incorporated in the gate, which stops the operation if the gate is opened. For restarting the operation, it does not use gate closure. Instead of this process, a positive restart method is employed in the work cell.

There is also a possibility to create a physical barrier by means of steel post. It is attached in the floor and covers the boundary of the programmed motion cycle. As a result, the robot hits the post when it is in uncontrollable mode. Some of the defects caused by this arrangement are:

  • The human operators can enter the work cell even the operation is going on and so there is a chance of collision with the robot.
  • If the robot arm hits the steel post at a high speed, it may get damaged or destroyed.
  • Sometimes, the human workers can get fixed with the robot in the steel post. The damage caused to humans during this time is very high even when there is no physical barrier.

There are several possible ways to protect the human operators in the work cell, while loading and unloading the work parts in the processing operations. During this process, a work cell can be designed to make use of a two-position part manipulator for dividing the workers from the robot.

In this layout, a rotary table is included to transport the raw materials from the human workers to the robot. This process is continued to transfer the finished work parts as well. It uses an operator interface for guiding the table for another cycle. Moreover, it helps in carrying out other tasks like emergency stop. Some advantages in this method are that it reduces the risk of colliding with the robot, increased safety, and production efficiency.

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