Screwdriver tool for cobots and safety barriers
Big industrial robots are able to pick and move extremely heavy automobile parts easily. But although robots undergo a strict safety assessment, there is still an uneasy feeling. What if something happens? And is the collaborative screwdriver tool safe, too?
Are cobots safe?
Cobots are smaller robots, less powerful, and collaborative with humans. Meaning that it will automatically stop when a worker is too close by.
But are they also dangerous? No, not at all actually.
According to OSHA statistics, only 27 robot-related fatalities happened between 1984 and 2013, in those 30 years all the accidents are related to professional industrial robots, not cobots. The accidents that happened with industrial robots occurred all during non-routine operating conditions. That is for example programming, maintenance, testing, setup and adjustment. This means that in a day-to-day operation, robots and cobots are 100% safe. Which also indicates that Spin Robotic’s screwdriver is safe!
Cobots are even contributing in decreasing the number of injuries in the workplace, Carlsberg is leading by an example. Since introducing automation is their production facility in Fredericia in Denmark, the number of injuries declined to 0. The employees do not have to do straining tasks anymore, tasks that are hard on the body. Instead they can dedicate their time to more fulfilling and creative tasks. Read here on how cobots can improve employees’ wellbeing.
It is safe to say that cobots and our screwdriver tool are simply safe.
Some may argue even that cobots are “too safe”.
There are many safety regulations for cobots, and those regulations are very conservative at the moment. But they are also needed because cobots are relatively new to the market, people need to be able to trust cobots before thinking of lowering the safety reguations.
A suggestions would be to use a system engineering framework and a dedicated engineering tool to analyze and reduce safety limits to only those which are actually needed for the tasks, having safety limits according to each individual case. This would lead to improved performance, because cobots are able to do more than they do now, their performance is manually limited to meet the safety standards.
High safety limits restrict performance, robots and cobots can do so much more than they are doing at the moment. Robots/cobots are especially limited in their speed (made slower for human safety), force (limited force to protect humans) and workflow (each time a human come close, the cobot stops, the robotic workflow is being interrupted many times, performance is decreasing).
To summarize, robots and cobots are actually very safe, accidents happen only during non-day-to-day operations, and cobots reduce the overall injury number.
Maybe one day the safety will be adjusted according to the robotic task and therefore realize the full potential of robots and cobots.
“A3automate – Facts on Robot Safety” – by Association for Advanced Automation, 2015
“OSHA – Industrial Robots and Robot System Safety” – United States Department of Labor – Occupational Safety and Health Administratio